This past Summer was full of visits from friends and family. A childhood friend and his oldest son made a trip up this way. It was a high school graduation celebration run from AZ up to UT on motocross bikes. Due to weather conditions at the time they were only going to stay a single night, but alternative arrangements were able to be made. They stayed and explored all this gorgeous area has to offer for another couple of days before heading home. There was also the devouring of a delicious tater tot casserole somewhere in there.
On the heels of my friend and his son's departure ... my mother and aunt arrived. Well sort of. I had to drive to Vegas to pick them up which is a three hour drive away. The trip served to remind me how much I hate big cities, but also underscored my need for them. Vegas has an Asian market where I was able to load up on hard to get goodies a small town doesn't have. Mom brought me a care package consisting of some new and old cookware along with queen sized bed sheets and other sundries. I could tell mom was happy for me in my new life, but sensed her reservations. There are two times in life where I felt her pride for me. The first was when I'd started a new job where I earned more than her or my father, the second was when I paid off all my debt. This kind of made the visit bittersweet for me.
I always get a little stressed out when my mother is around. Luckily my aunt ran a lot of interference making the four day stay of theirs pleasant. I took them to see the sanctuary where I work as well as Zion and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. We managed to get out and eat twice but the Peruvian in them took over so there were plenty of home cooked meals. My aunt lost her husband to cancer earlier this year so it was great to see her getting out and doing things. She could tell I was truly happy with all the changes I'd made in my life and was really proud of me.
About two months later a new friend who comes out to visit and volunteer at the sanctuary was out here for almost two weeks. She's a feisty tiny lady who hauls a 25 foot travel trailer out in a ginormous truck. She really cares for and loves all the dogs she gets to spend time with. Her departure date also coincided with the arrival of family.
My sissy, nephew, and her beau (whom I met for the first time) arrived for their visit. There was no sightseeing this time outside of visiting the sanctuary, this was all family time. We spent most of the time in town together relaxing, hanging out, and eating really well. The visit was too short but we made the most of the time and had a blast! Sissy loved the area so much that she's already begun plotting a longer return, but in a rental RV. I'm looking forward to this!
I was sad to see them go, as was Bridgette. She was over the moon with excitement at all the family/friend visits we'd had. There was one more visit. New friends again whom I'd first met last year. Bill and Kelly. They come out every year for roughly almost two weeks with all kinds of accumulated goods to donate in addition to all the volunteer time they put in while here. They're not rich and earn a modest income, but their resourcefulness is limitless. I'm glad that the sanctuary recognized all they do in kind and elevated their donor status. This allowed them to enjoy a few nice perks while here. I also can't thank them enough for feeding me during their time here. Kelly cooks old school and never makes a meal for just two people.
I should also mention that I've finally increased my family by one. It was on a resupply trip to St George between my sisters visit and arrival of Bill & Kelly. I named her Pips, short for pipsqueak. The picture was taken the day I got her, and she's a little bit bigger now. I'm impressed with how well socialized she was as most stores don't bother with any handling save boxing them up when purchased. She's very sweet and affectionate. I'm using a rubbermaid storage container for her home while I decide on building or buying. The last time I owned a rat was well over 40 years ago, and I'm happy that the internet has brought me up to speed in it's typical lightning fashion. This little girl is not missing out on anything because of all the different types of enrichment's I've given her.
Bridgette was a little unsure at first but has come to accept her as a very little sister. She's learned how to be gentle with her and the two of them usually sleep together on the couch after dinner. I didn't leave B out when it came to enrichment's either. I purchased three food puzzles which she absolutely loves to play with.
Despite all the good grub I've been eating I did make a major change to my diet. Partially out of curiosity to see if the health benefits happen as quick as I'd read about, but also because it saves me money. I switched to a diet of primarily rice and beans. I'm into the third month of this new diet and the main challenge has been in keeping it interesting. Being creative in the kitchen is something I love so it's been a lot of fun. The speed at which things changed was immediately noticeable. My energy levels shot up which has been a huge help at work, but first thing I noticed was my resting pulse rate improved. The old average was in the mid to high 80s but is now in the low 70's. And it's still dropping. I'm hoping to get it into the 60's by the time winter is underway.
There's still more to tell but this is a good partial overview of what's been happening since last June. More to come ...