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Superstition Mountains, Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ

Monday, 15 January 2018

A Visit to Nanaimo

Ray arrived on Sunday afternoon, very tired but happy to be reunited with Freya and I. He took it easy for a few days to recover and then we left for the island on Thursday morning to stay at Kristi and Jason's. Jason had all of our stuff moved from our storage locker into Kristi's storage locker at her office with some of it taken to their house to sort out. He even set up our bed for us in the spare room downstairs in the basement suite. We've not slept on this bed for almost 6 years. Thanks a bunch Jason.  Once back home I sorted through the boxes that Jason had delivered to the house. Most of it would go back into storage but managed to find my sheets for our bed.

Kristi was working today and Jason was running errands when we arrived, so after dropping off Freya with Kristi's dogs, Ray and I went out to lunch at our favorite sushi place, Nori's by Costco. Yumm.

After full tummies, Ray and I did a little bit of clothes shopping for him, checking out some January Sales.

As Kristi had meetings all evening as well, Ray and I took Jason out to the Beefeaters for dinner. It was just okay ... nothing to write home about! We all had the prime rib ... very small portions.

Friday morning was "doggy daycare day". Kristi and I elected to drop all three dogs off early instead of waiting for them to be picked up at 9:30. The people she uses are fantastic and the dogs really love going as they get a long hike every day. They are certainly tired when they come back. Freya actually calms down and sleeps.

Freya and Zeus
This morning we'd arranged to look at a few "properties" to get a feel of what Nanaimo prices were currently and what they had to offer. We cannot purchase anything over here until Dad's house is sold, whenever that will be, but we wanted to get a "feel" for this area. Ray and I still want to continue taking the motorhome to the states for the winters.  We just want to get back into the real estate market now so our purchase increases whether we live in it for summers or rent it out for a couple of years. After our morning adventures we took Kristi to Pirates Chips for lunch, downtown Nanaimo. We had been there before but Kristi had not. Very eclectic place and great fish and chips. Next Kristi came with us for a few errands ... more clothes for Ray. lol

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Blurry camera shot, it's not your eyes.
Saturday, Kristi had a course at the hospital and then she had another course to re-certify in rock climbing later in the afternoon. While she was gone, it was time to sort out the storage locker at Kristi's office. Ray and I needed to go through the stuff and pitch out items that we no longer need after 6 years of living in a motorhome. We still had a lot of camping stuff from our days at Macktush and old dishes etc. The best part was I had kept my dress clothes and winter coats and it was nice to get them back for our "city living" days for the next several months. It was quite the job and Jason did the majority of it for us. Wow what a son-in-law. He also took a utility trailer load of stuff to the dump for us after we had sorted through the stuff.  Jason was pretty sore after all of this and ended up having to have a lay down as did Ray.

A bunch of stuff gone and more room for furniture that we will take from Dad's once the house is sold.

Once Kristi got back home we took them for dinner at the Wheatsheaf Pub in Cedar which is close by their house.

Definitely a devil look for Jason, especially the "lit horns" lol
Back at home, a little TV and then it was early to bed again. We just cannot seem to stay awake after 9:30 pm.

Sunday, our last day here, Kristi headed out for her 10 am golf lesson and Jason headed out for his fly fishing clinic at the Englishman River. Ray considered going but sitting or standing at a riverbank for a couple of hours is too hard so opted out even though he was invited. A lazy morning for us waiting for Kristi to get back home.

Once Kristi was back, we had a little bite to eat and then all of us piled into her SUV to take the dogs for a walk, although the primary purpose was to check out a piece of land in Yellow Point. It was too foggy to see the view but a nice outing never the less.

Back home Kristi made us a roast beef dinner using her InstantPot that I got her for Christmas. Yumm. Thanks Kristi and Jason for putting up with the "old folks" for a few days. We had a great time and your basement suite set up for us is awesome. It is lovely to have our own bed back.

Monday morning found us on the 7:45 am ferry back to the mainland and back to the house by 10:30. Hard to believe that this is "home" for us for the next several months. Does not feel right yet.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Appointments, documents and more ... Where's Ray Now?

January 2nd found me at Dad's lawyers, and making other phone calls for arrangements etc. Larny and I are slowly working our way through the mountains of paper and cupboards full of junk and getting rid of Dad's old clothes for donation.

Ray left Quartszite after the rig received it's annual wash and wax. He is stayed at the Fantasy Springs Casino for a couple of nights in Indio, and then started his journey north. He is making good time with getting up early, sleeping for a few hours at rest areas and then driving a little more and then stopping for the night. To say he is anxious to get home to me and help out is an understatement. His back is quite sore but he is not setting up the motorhome everyday just squeezing onto the bed without putting out the slides. Eating at fast food joints helps with his timing as well and no dishes! Can't wait for him to get home. Estimated arrival is Sunday afternoon. Of course forecast is for rain so the rig will be all dirty again but no snow or cold temps are in the forecast so it is good he is coming home now.

I have spent the time junking out more drawers, giving Larny extra dishes, pots and pans and cutlery to help her set up on her own with her husband Mark ... she tells me he has one fork and one plate at present. I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The rest will have to wait until the house is sold.

Saturday, I attended my Godfather, Geoff Eves Funeral here in Surrey. From the time I can remember, every Boxing Day we would always as a family go to Uncle Geoff's for a visit around noon. With Ray and I living out of town for most of our married lives, we still managed to see Geoff at least once a year. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. It was nice catching up with his 3 children, Pam, Phillip and Diane, who I have not seen since they were teenagers and now only a few years younger than myself. For some reason , most years they were never at Uncle Geoff's when we came to visit, either they had already been or they were coming later in the afternoon. I also reconnected with old neighbours from my childhood.

Geoff called Dad weekly and stopped in at least every 2-3 weeks on his way to his daughter Diane's for the past 10 years. Geoff's last visit with Dad was at the end of November. They must have had a good chin wag. Geoff, being Geoff, sent Larny out to run her errands and stayed to keep Dad company until she could get back. A week later Geoff himself ended up in hospital and died December 14th totally unexpectedly. When I told Dad that Geoff had passed away while he was still in Emergency, I think that helped Dad with his decision to "pull his own plug". But what I found out  at Geoff's service, was really astounding,  Geoff's ashes were interred on December 23rd around 11 am. Dad died at 10:30 am. that same morning. Both of Geoff's daughter's and I, believe that their Dad called to mine and now they are off sailing as they both loved the water. Geoff had been very concerned with Dad's declining health and shared his concerns with his children.

Uncle Geoff is now at peace with the love of his life, Aunt Valerie, who died many years ago and he never found another love as he missed her terribly. It was a lovely service showing how many lives he touched. He had a wonderful family of children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren who attended.

Inside the above pamphlet was a poem that really spoke to me, especially with my dad's passing.

Life Well Lived

A life well lived is a precious gift,
Of hope and strength and grace.
From someone who has made our world
A brighter, better place.

Its filled with moments, sweet and sad
With smiles and sometimes tears,
With friendships formed and good times shared.
And Laughter through the years.

A Life well lived is a legacy.
Of joy and pride and pleasure.
A living, lasting memory
Our grateful hearts will treasure.

It gave me strength to carry on for what I have to do to arrange for my Dad's service later this month. Ray will be home tomorrow afternoon. Cannot wait to have someone to hug me and share my grief and concerns. It has been a very long 2 weeks.

Monday, 1 January 2018

What's been happening with the Kyles?

Boxing day found Larny, Ray and I driving to Coquitlam to my aunt and uncles for a lunch visit. Especially to help them eat their turkey leftovers! lol A lovely but sad visit as I not only lost my Dad, my Uncle Ken lost his brother and is the last one out of 3 boys still alive.

Steve, Kerri's husband, picked up Ray at 5:15 am and drove him to the airport for his flight back to Phoenix. The weather was crappy with freezing roads and drizzel or snow flurries. I was not too sure driving my rental car in that kind of weather and Steve has snow tires and a SUV. Thanks a bunch Steve. I spent the day on the phone with necessary phone calls regarding my Dad's estate. The rest of the week was kind of a blur with appointments and phone calls.

Ray made it back to Queen Valley Resort in good time and had a very happy puppy to great him. Malcom made Ray Thai Curry Prawns for dinner. Freya had a great time with Malcolm over the holidays.

Freya with her buddy Sage

Freya on a hike with Malcolm

I celebrated New Year's Eve, with Larny, Garrett and Kat. The kids decided to drive back from their holidays in Kamloops today, where they stayed with Kat's family. I bought a lot of snacks to heat up in the oven so we all had a good time. The girls kept the food coming.

Kat and Garrett

 Pardon the fuzzy pictures with my phone .... my photographer is not with me!

Larny and Kat
Garrett and Kat with her family, painted a tribute to my dad and mom on a canvas over Christmas. It is fabulous.

The story behind this painting.... from Garrett

but with a sailboat instead of the rowboat and a more intense colours.

Unfortunately I messed the painting up and was about to throw my hands up at it until Bill encouraged me to keep trying and then I came up with a fairly cool background image.

I had mentioned to Bill that I wanted to have a sailboat under full sail sailing toward a lighthouse, symbolizing grandpa's final voyage with the homage to lighthouse park given that we sailed past it all the time.

From there Bill suggested the water/streamers spilling forth from what was to be the lighthouse and I insisted on them being bright colours.

At that point I was just going to call it a day until I thought hey, let's get each member of the Lee family to add their own personal touch to the painting.

Instead of a lighthouse Kat suggested the angel (given that she knows I like  them (Deb) and knowing the story of grandma) and she did the research and came up with the image of the angel and painted it along with Bill's help.

The whales aren't really symbolic of anything (intentionally at least), it just seems to be a surreal painting type thing because it's so ridiculous to have a whale in space.

The yellow submarine thing is a throwback to listening to the oldies like the Beatles while growing up while also fitting in with the "underwater" theme.

I insisted on the scuba diver given the space/water theme and our past voyages under the sea.

I painted the background, most of the yellow submarine and the streamers that come forth from the angel.

Ana painted the stars, Kat painted the angel and Bill painted the spiral galaxy, the shooting star, the fish, the sailboat, the scuba diver and the whales.

The sailboat is painted with the same red and blue stripe that gramps' sailboat had and I even wrote "Stasha" on the bow of it though it is hard to make out.

I insisted on the sailboat having a spinnaker because we never did get a chance to use it in all our time sailing.  The design of the spinnaker is that of the scottish flag in homage to gramps scottish heritage and the figures on the boat are grandpa and grandma.

The idea being that it is their final voyage together to heaven.

Oh and there is a smudge in the bottom left which was Ana's fingerprint and I (in true Noel Watten style) turned it into a "man in the moon".

Thank you so much Garrett and Kat. I absolutely live this painting.

Garrett kept Kira amused by flying a small drone which she chases in the house.

See the red lite up thing top right corner.

She is mesmorized by it.
Mark, Larny's husband, left about 7 pm as he had to work early in the morning at the chicken farm where he lives. The rest of us decided to have our New Year's watching the New York Celebration so at 9 pm we dutifully had our champagne.

Happy New Year!!!
New Year's Day after breakfast, Garrett and Kat headed home to Squamish and Larny and I took down Christmas. I also emptied out my Dad's file cabinet and went "treasure hunting". Managed to find some missing silver dollars that Kerri had looked for when her mother died 18 months ago, as well as some old bill currency that her mother stashed. Also in the cabinet was some silver dollars that belonged to my deceased brother as his name was written on the coin jackets. Wow who knew! There also was some Haida Jewellry that belonged to my mother that was tucked away in the bottom. So that job turned out to be very worthwhile. 

Around 3:30, Kerri showed up to go through the Christmas stuff and pick out the things that meant the most to her ... this stuff was mostly Betty's things she collected over the years. She thought she was only going to take a few things and brought only one small box ..... I had her go through the china cabinet, kitchen cupboards and any other nook and cranny that had "Mason" stuff that was of value and/or memories and take it home with her. She left with the back of her SUV full! Ha Ha Ha ... gotta love when I plan to get rid of some stuff comes together!

Tomorrow I hit the ground running, first an appointment at the lawyers and then make the phone calls I have been waiting to do.

In the meantime, Ray here reporting from Quartzsite.  A little time off to relax before starting the long trip home.

While flying out of Vancouver International, I shot this Thunderbird near our departure gate.

My campsite for New Years Eve and a Full Wolf Moon, also my lone companion for the festivities.

Full Wolf Moon

 For some reason Freya didn't want to howl at the moon with me.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Vancouver for Christmas and Dad's unexpected passing.

Well..... Ray left Lost Dutchman State Park on the morning of the 20th, headed for Queen Valley RV Resort to park the Motorhome for the holidays and deliver Freya to our good friends Malc and Kathy for the holidays. Big thanks to you guys for taking care of Ray and making him dinner for his arrival. I know Freya will be well taken care of while he is gone.

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She is not too hard done by!
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Going for a walk at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

My Dad is not doing to well and lots of plans are trying to be made ... does he come home for the duration of his life, stay in the hospital in palliative care etc.

Ray left Phoenix today, December 21st as planned and will arrive "on the busiest day at the Vancouver International Airport" with possible flurries. Yikes. Can't wait for him to come home. As it turned out it did not take very long for him to clear customs and we arrived at the hospital by 6:30 pm so he could have a quick visit with Dad.

December 23rd, 2017

It is with great sadness to inform you that my Dad passed away yesterday at Peace Arch Hospital with family by his side. He had made up his mind that he was going to die at Christmas once everyone came into town to see him. Larny, his caregiver called me the morning of December 15th that he had “passed out” and was taken by ambulance to Peace Arch and admitted. I made it back from Phoenix on the next flight, December 16th. After that he was counting the days for when Ray and our kids were arriving to see him to spend Christmas.  It's been 7 years since we would all be together at the same time. My daughter and I stayed with him all night to make sure he was comfortable and enough drugs were being administered.

On the night of the 22nd around 7 pm, he had had about 18 visitors that day, from family and friends, and he counted us all out loud and then promptly closed his eyes. That was the last time we spoke. He passed away without suffering at around 10:30 am the next morning. One thing about my Dad, when he makes up his mind … that’s it.

Here are some pictures of my Dad

Dad, and his brothers Ken and Duncan
Duncan, George and Ken

Dad at about age 16. He always loved to fish.

My Grandpa, Duncan and my dad George

When my kids were small they had great adventures with their Grandpa as they flew down from the Charlottes and spent at least 6 weeks with him every year. He love boating and fishing and shared his love of it with his grandchildren and Ray and I as often as we could meet up.

My Dad and Mom with Garrett and Kristi on their sailboat.

Grandpa taking Kristi and Garrett Christmas Tree hunting!

When we all lived in Port Coquitlam he used to pick the kids up and take them grocery shopping so Ray and I could have some "alone time". At least that is what he said, but we all thought it was so all of the cute women would come up and talk to him and see his grandchildren while grocery shopping!
He came with Ray and I on a adventure to South Moresby in our Zodiac with the kids. He loved the idea of exploring with us. Such great memories.

Kristi took the picture.
 He came every year to steelhead fish while we lived in the Charlottes often dragging my Uncle Ken with him.

His pride and joy, Stasha II. Ray and I with the kids had many great holidays with Dad and Mom on this boat.

For quite a few years, Dad managed to arrange a Father's Day get away with his brothers for a fishing expedition. This boat was his 28 foot Bayliner.

George, Ken and Duncan
 Dad found the love of sailing so this year's Father's Day get together was on the Stasha I

Dad, Ken and Duncan

Dad was the "Chef" and always made sure everyone ate well.

Dad did a lot of travelling with his brother Ken and his wife Norma. He went with them to visit their brother Duncan and Touyet in San Francisco

Dad and my cousin Gord "shooting the Sh....t about Weiser Locks.

Betty and Dad's cat Opie. They came for Christmas in Port Alberi the first year we moved there from the Charlottes. Dad sure loved that cat for a guy who supposedly only liked dogs.

The last time we had him over to Port Alberni for Father's Day and took him sockeye fishing.

Two of my favourite men. 
Larny, Dad's live-in caregiver for the last 18 months, took extremely good care of him. He was very happy to be able to stay in his own home right up until the end which would have been impossible without her. She made his life full of laughs and great company. Thank you so much Larny. I was able to travel without worrying about my Dad with you there to take care of him.

Last Christmas. 2016 Thank you Larny for making Dad so happy. You dragged him into the feeling of Christmas whether he liked it or not. :)
Christmas 2016
My last picture of my father taken, December 17th. He looked like he was improving. No idea that he would pass away 6 days later.

RIP Dad will miss you a whole bunch. Love you.

Kristi and I spent  a good portion of the previous day and all night at the hospital. At 7:30 am Ray and Jason relieved us to stay with Dad so we could go home and get a couple hours of sleep. I prepared our "Christmas Dinner" for the kids  and just crawled into bed when Ray called to say that things were not good and we had better hurry back.  We were 10 minutes too late.

Once we were all home from the hospital on December 23rd. My kids decided we were going to have Christmas anyways. Dad would have wanted us to. I had the dinner/lunch prepped already and partially cooked so Garrett went and picked up my Aunt Norma and Uncle Ken in Coquitlam and brought them to the house. Kat and Ray tackled the kitchen that looked like a "bomb went off" as we had just made breakfast when Kristi and I got called back to the hospital and the prep for dinner was all over the place. My kids and their partners are awesome. Once everyone was settled we opened our presents with Garrett playing Santa. After that we had a late lunch at 2:30 pm with ham, scalloped potatoes and a salad.  (Fortunately this was all prepped the day before for the most part.) This is the first time we have all been together for about 7 years, Dad was with us in spirit. Ray and Jason took a few (I meant a lot) of pictures.

Our grand puppies.

Kira, Garrett's dog

Zeus, Kristi's dog

Athena in the corner ignoring everyone, another one of Kristi's dogs.
They were all extremely behaved.

Our Christmas Santa, Garrett
Kristi and Aunt Norma

Kristi and Jason got me a stake that will hold my beer, chips and a cocktail all at the same time and oh... you can poke it into the ground in the desert!  Uncle Ken beside me.

Ray got a batch of Kat's legendary home-made Pirate Cookies ... Yumm

Kristi and Aunt Norma

Uncle Ken giving me some "advice" or telling me a story.

Garrett gets an Arizona fleece from Mesa Market.

Kristi with her fleece.

Kat with her fleece.

Kristi showing off her earrings from Jason.
Jason's fleece

How about that ... Ken got a fleece too.

Love, love, love my sweatshirt from Kristi ... it will be worn proudly.

To Jason from Kristi .. good luck fly fishing.

Even though Dad was not with us, the kids received Christmas money from him.

Kristi with her Christmas money from Grandpa.

I wonder what Larny received?

Larny's husband Mark. The first time they have got to spend Christmas together in 7 years.

Garrett remembers what to get his mother for Christmas, at least xmas elves told him what to remember! lol

We all tried to be happy but it was certainly weird to not have Dad sitting where Ray was.

Christmas money from Grandpa.

Family photo op with all of us wearing our new fleece, scarves and sweatshirt.
My wonderful Aunt and Uncle

Yup feeling no pain after 48 hours of no sleep and several Christmas drinks under my belt.
 Larny set a beautiful table for us to have lunch. I said Grace, (Never done that before, but apparently did okay Larny told me.) as my grandfather always did at Christmas and a prayer for my Dad.

Right to left, Larny, Mark, Kat, Garrett, Ken, Norma, Jason, Kristi and Deb

Kat and Garrett left later in the afternoon for Kamloops as there was snow in the forecast on the 24th and I did not want them to drive in it. Ken and Norma were picked up about 4 pm by their son and daughter-in-law Gord and Suzanne after a nice visit. Larny and her husband Mark stayed for the lunch and then headed out to a work function Mark had been invited to. The rest of the evening Kristi, Jason, Ray and I spent relaxing and reminiscing about Dad. A Christmas Puzzle (a Kyle family tradition) also was completed this year by everyone.

Something to keep everyone's mind busy. Thanks Kristi, your idea was a great one.
Last night I finally slept 10 hours straight ... sure needed it. Christmas Eve Day, Kristi and Jason headed out back to the island at about 11:30 am. After vaccuming up the copious amounts of dog hair (love those german shedders) Ray and I spent the rest of the day unwinding. I had phone calls to make, getting started on the immense job ahead of me to handle Dad's estate. Fortunately Dad has good people in place to help me. He certainly had prepared for this day well in advance. Even sort of picked the day to die. Amazing.

Christmas morning I ended up waking up at 2 am and stayed awake for the rest of the day. Ray woke to me making the turkey dressing at 4:30 in the morning, can you say banging and crashing of pots. Mark and Larny arrived back about 10 am. Mark dropped Larny off and headed back to the chicken farm for work and would be back later in the afternoon. Everyone looks very tired. Larny reset the table for our Christmas Dinner as I am making turkey for Betty's daughter Kerri and her family. They have Christmas Dinner here for the last 10 years or so and I did not want it to change for them this year. Anyways after most of the prep for dinner done, Larny Ray and I watched Home Alone. Larny had never seen the movie and we were all in need of a good laugh.

We had found a tin with a whole bunch of coin in it. Betty had been looking for that tin for 10 years since they moved into this house ... finally it was located. Steve took estimates from everyone and then the money was spilled out onto the coffee table for everyone to count. That kept everyone occupied while I did the final prep on dinner. With being so tired I was pleasantly surprised everything turned out great.

Deb, Alyse, Kerri, Steve, Ray and Larny

We had their dog, Gus with us too. This time Mark, Larny's husband is in the picture.

After dinner, everyone helped clear the table and Steve with Kerri and Larny did up the dishes for me. Thanks a bunch guys. Once everyone was settled back in the family room, Alyse, who is 13 years old, showed us a bunch of her dance routines that she is working on for the this year's competitions. She has dance class of one sort or another 6 out of 7 days a week. Most days at least 2 or 3 classes from ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary. Her mother, Kerri, is extremely busy ferrying her around in between working 3 days a week as a teacher. All seems worth it when you watch her dance. Amazing.

It was hard to get a good picture of her dancing as she moves so fast and since we only have my camera here ... pics not as great.

We had a lovely visit. Kerri and I have lots of work ahead of us as I am sure her family is delegating her to take care of her mother's things in this house and I of course, have my dad's stuff to deal with.

So that was our Christmas .... Boxing Day we will go over to my Aunt and Uncles for lunch and visit the family. After that my work begins.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.