Monday, October 31, 2011

just back from Long Beach

I have a couple of menus and websites to share along with pictures of our 4 day visit to Long Beach, California and surrounding areas.

We visited with my 98 year old auntie, first and second cousins and with a former graduate school colleague (Northern Illinois University, 1975-76). Around the visits we walked beaches, ate well, watched elementary kids learn how to sail and race and counted our blessings for this short respite.

Today I am transitioning into Tucson life and trying to be patient (doesn't work too well after 10 p.m.) with our neighbors' barking dogs.

So, later in the week I will share more details. Just for today--what was the favorite (or is, if you are still game for it) your favorite Halloween costume and/or memory?

My favorite costume was in my 11th year (or so) dressing up in my Grandmother Dice's wedding dress (upon reflection I can't believe she loaned it to me for that purpose). A favorite memory is twofold: 1) my dad, my sister and I setting up an assembly-line in our basement (my dad worked for Toastmaster as a factory/parts laborer) and plopping an apple, candy bars and package of gum in brown bag bags to be twisted closed and distributed to the Trick or Treaters and 2) going out with girlfriends to the homes on Highland and McLean Avenues (where the westside money-folk lived in Elgin, Illinois) and picking out full size candy bars from a silver dessert tray.

Happy Halloween !!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

a simple gift

My husband and I were in Phoenix the past 18 hours or so for, first, a Humanities Festival in downtown Phoenix, and then, an overnite visit (home-served tamalas, rice and beans for dinner; breakfast at Brunchies) in Chandler. I love play days/nights--as I get older, I can easity switch off the "work" light and enjoy myself, then, somewhat reluctantly, switch the "play" switch off and unpack, unbundle dusty newspapers, and check into email.

After I go through the emails--and before I trek to our mailbox for the snail mail, it's time for me to pause and write my blog. Even though I have only a few readers (and thank you to the half dozen who do take time to read my musings), I keep sending out the links to my posts and hope others will gather the word crumbs I spread and decide to join the journey.

Today, a simple gift was given to me by Lori, who works at diSciacca, a glassware furnishings store in historic downtown Chanlder. . My friend and I delighted in the colorful displays of glassware and I wanted to purchase two small blown glass "teacups" for my nightly sip of warm milk. Lori wasn't sure that the glasses would survive hot fluids, so she give me the cups to try and the let her know if they could be used for hot drinks. This simple gift really touched me and I told her I would do that but I would also write about the store on my I intend to do that and also decided to give the store and her generosity of saleswomanship a "plug" on this blog as well.

Her sales approach reminded me of years ago when I used to work in the handbag department at Spiess' Department Store in Elgin, Illinois. Periodically, we would give away small coin bags to our customers. Blue-haired little ladies in black linen suits and busy moms of the 1960s in peasant blouses and bell-bottoms used to stop by with smiles in return for our "pre-sale" gifts, given maybe twice a year. Now, if I go to Macy's and, as a regular Clinique customer, ask for a "sample", I am lucky if I can get a piece of paper with a fragrance sprayed onto it to put into my purse.

So, when, I ask you, was the last time, you went into a store--any store--and received a gift from a salesperson? It's grand to know that in a charming store in Chandler, a person like Lori works who, through a simple gift, can make a potentially returning customer's soul smile. Thank you, Lori, and I hope you share this posting with the store owners: they should pat you on the back and treat you to a glass of wine at Vintage, the soon to open (11/5) wine bar and restaurant opening next door to disciacca.

And I will write about the results of the glass tea cups' "warm milk test" on my other blog in a few days, along with the photos my husband took of the store.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

why we have each other

This morning my back was stiff and so, in the middle of my Sunday morning "skim" on the local and NY Times newspapers, I decided I need to do my neighborhood walk. A bit of overnight coolness lingered in the air. But by the time I finished my exercise, I had taken my sweater off and tied it around my waist.

Hummingbirds were busily soaring in the early sunshine and the neighborhood's rooster crowed his last morning song of early day. Very few others were out pounding the pavement, but as I came around the corner and caught a glimpse of my new pink rose blossom outside my office window, one of the many neighbors who are UA students, was bicycling back from her exercise with her leased pooch by her side. I am always amazed and scared by the sight of bicyclists exercising their dogs this way: it seems a delicate balance that could end in disaster for the bicyclist and/or the dog, but I confess I have never seen an accident actually happen so it's probably me projecting my panic on a generation still oblivious to the catastrophes of life.

Anyway, I really enjoy the enthusiam the young woman and her dog have for each other and, as we waved and smiled at each other, I said "I guess that's why we have each other"--meaning the balance of joy pets give their keepers and vice versa. She laughed, her head thrown back in the breeze, and said, "yes, it's a good way to start the day."

So I came back and hugged my elder-dog, Lia, who walks with Mark as the sun comes up and rests on the leather couch with me as we read or watch movies together. She is sprouting a few more grey hairs on her chin which match ones more plentiful on my head and other non-named parts of my body, but her spirit is tenacious and tender. I like to think she reflects my nature as well and as I said to my neighbor, "that's why we have each other."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

a pink rose blossom

Outside of my window where I write this blog, soft autumnal light is moving across the sky and shining on a single pink rose blossom. As a breeze comes, the blossom bends slightly and the petals curl open. A yellow monarch floats past and a cactus wren pecks at seed in the bird feeder that hangs from the mesquite tree. Seed pods have begun to fall from the mesquite and yesterday I bought a pumpkin to place inside our home, marking the beginning of the season.

Years ago, after our son had grown, instead of carving a pumpkin and watching it wither in the sometimes-still blistering October heat, I bought an electric version of a Jack-o-Lantern from Walgreens. Last night I plugged it inon the front porch before we took a slow stroll around our neighborhood. It had rained an hour earlier so the air smelled of creyosote as the clouds cleared and the nightsky opened.

I love this time of year. The long stretch of September is over and, along with my marigolds who seem to widen their smile, I, too, find more to smile about: the blue morning glory vines curling around the branches of a dead oleander tree, filling up the empty space with large green leaves, the seeds of basil turning into small plants that braird among the decomposed granite rocks. (NOTE: I had that word "braird" which means, "to sprout or to appear on the ground" pop up in one of my daily online vocabulary prompts and I have waited to use it--though it sticks out in the sentence as a word from another time, which it is).

In the mornings, the sun stays behind the backyard a bit longer and I resist the summer hangover urge to get up and move before it gets hot. It is noon now and only 88 degrees so we are definitely in another season. Of course, the days ends earlier, too, and as we enjoyed another favorite meal at Milagros, our neighborhood Mexican restaurant, last night, we remarked how, at 6:00 is was already almost dark. Each year that shift surprises us.

Autumn is a time when much of the desert comes alive (although rattlesnakes and lizards prepare to hibernate for the winter). It's a time to plant new flowers, put in seeds for the spring, take afternoon walks in Reid Park or along the Rillito and move the plates and cups outside to the patio for supper dining.

This afternoon, I will enjoy the pink rose. It's bloom will fade in a day or two but its presence reminds me that as each season passes, another one seamlessly arrives for me to savor--if I slow down, and look. As you slow down with the season, what reminder from nature urges you to see, smell, touch?