March 2021


This has bothered me since the “Downton Abbey” movie came out in 2019 and when the trailer was suggested on Youtube today, it finally hit me.

The did something with CGI to Dame Maggie Smith’s eyes in the final cut of the movie.

In the official trailer, Dame Maggie looks like Dame Maggie, as regal and glorious as ever.

In the same clip in the actual movie, they modified her left eye a bit.

Subconsciously I knew something had changed but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Not that I would put my finger in her eye or anything, but I’m happy I’ve resolved this little niggling in the back of my head.

And I wish they’d do another Downton Abbey movie.

The New Normal.

We are settling into eating dinner as a family on the gazebo. We are lucky to have such wonderful chefs in the kitchen. Some of us help out by setting the table and cleaning up.


So amongst our errands for the day we had appointments at the ADOT Motor Vehicles Division office on the east side of Tucson. I’m always fascinated with Motor Vehicles offices such as these, so I was excited to see how the fine folks of Arizona handled things like issuing Driver Licenses and Motor Vehicle Registration.

A good deal of the paperwork can be completed online in their well designed web portal. This is where I took the opportunity to schedule appointments for our transactions. Surprisingly, the office was not particularly busy, so we breezed right through without an issue.

The friendly man at the front desk took our photos and engaged in pleasant chit chat. This is completely backward from anything I’ve experienced before; in both New York and Illinois they didn’t take your photo until you’ve been approved and you’ve paid your fees. Once we accomplished this, we were off to the desks, where we waiting in line for a few moments and then stepped forward when beckoned by the smiling faces behind the plexiglass. Earl took care of his license and the car registration; I just to take care of my license. No tests, not even an eye test this time. Show plenty of identification to prove who I am (I used my passport, my Illinois license, the official “change of address” mail from the USPS, and my Private Pilot Certificate). Answer some questions, get all of your documentation scanned, and off we go after $25.00. I received a temporary license.

Earl did the same, with differences in the paperwork, and then he quickly completed his car registration transaction. The only difference in this process is in Phoenix and Tucson you need to get an emissions test before you register your car. This seems a little out of order to me, but we accomplished this easily this past Saturday. I had seen the information on the website so that’s what probably kept the whole process simple.

We have a waterproof paper temporary license plate on the back of the car and for the first time in our car’s life it no longer has a front license plate bracket. ADOT issues random characters for license plate numbers now, hence the reason they send the license plate to you in the mail.

There are certain amount of feeling settled once you get all of your motor vehicle requirements registered to your new home state. I’m excited to no longer be driving around the area on Illinois plates. We probably still act like snowbirds but we no longer look the part.


An equestrian trail bisects our property behind our new home. Today I hiked down to take a look at it up close and personal. I didn’t see any horses or any other animals for that matter, but it was a pleasant little walk.
Jamie and I tested the acoustics of the back yard. He was speaking in a normal voice and I could hear him without an issue. I wonder if the neighbors can hear us just as easily.

The previous owner of the home left us a one page narrative about the history of the house. The builder and designer was a doctor and astronomer. The small room off our bedroom is shown as the “observatory” on the blueprints. On the floor below in the tool room and workshop is a large reinforced square in the middle of the floor; it was intended to be the base for the large telescope that would have been in the observatory. The small room also has an alcove with many electrical and network connection jacks intended to be the control center for the telescope. The doctor also co-founded an observatory in nearby Benson.

The doctor died about a year after the house was built; his wife maintained it for several years later. The owner we bought the house from had been in it since 2010. I believe that family used this as a vacation home.

I look forward to learning more about the property. I’m very happy to call it home.


We’ve been here for only three days yet Truman has adapted very well to his new home. He’s still figuring out the new time zone; his demands for breakfast are at 5:30 AM instead of the usual 7:30 AM, but we’re letting that slide. We’ve actually approached bedtime differently since moving to the desert and he now has the freedom to sleep with us if he so chooses. He does, and he settles himself at our feet in between the two of us in bed. But when there’s a hint of sunrise shining through, he’s up and ready for some food.

We can manage. During the week I get up at 5:30 AM so I can make my now 6:00 AM calls for work.

I get the feeling he’s loving all the extra room the house provides. He’s running up and down the stairs like a trooper, has mapped out every square foot of the place, and while still figuring out the rules around what’s considered a countertop and what’s not, he seems the happiest he’s ever been since joining our family a few years ago.

We’ll start tackling the patio and gazebo over the next few weeks once our furniture arrives and things are a little more settled.


I installed a Nest Thermostat E in our bedroom this evening. I don’t know if the E stands for “eco” or “economy version”, but it is a nice looking until but without some of the capabilities of the regular Nest.

I wish I could say the installation was a flawless experience. I don’t know if the software was confused or I was confused, but the Google Home absolutely did not want me to do anything but wait for another Nest device to tell my thermostat how to get connected to the rest of the house. The problem is, I don’t have any other Nest devices. We haven’t had a Nest device of any sort since our relocation to Chicago in 2017, but I think Google Nest may have been confused on this. What should have been less than 30 minutes of installation time stretched into more then 90 minutes and a half dozen Factory Resets.

I finally ended up bringing Chris’ Nest Camera from his setup on the other side of the house to talk to my Nest Thermostat E. It then magically joined our wifi network and all was well.

I like the look of it. I’m surprised the ring doesn’t spin like the regular Nest units do; instead you rub and tap the right side of the unit to make adjustments.

Despite the software obstacles, overall I’m pleased with the unit and I find it aesthetically enjoyable.

Tucson, Arizona.

We are officially in Tucson. The drive was not bad today, the house is beautiful, there is much to do, and I’m off to bed. Time changes and all that..

Albuquerque, New Mexico.

We are about six hours from our new home, stationed in a Ramada in Albuquerque, N.M. I wasn’t expecting to drive through snow squalls, but we ran into two snow squalls between Tucumcari and Albuquerque. Um, this is the desert.

Overall the drive is going well. Truman has settled into a routine and takes naps. I follow road signs. Earl converses with us both and plays with his phone. It’s quite routine but still enjoyable.