Thursday, December 27, 2012

Scenes from the Desert at Linda Vista Trailhead

Before the rain and rainbow suprisingly appeared, Mark and I took a nice hike at the east end of Linda Vista Blvd., where Pusch Ridge dominates the background.

Don't these rocks look like turtles with their heads tucked into the sand?

Can you see the tiny bird in the palo verde branches, just to the left of the saguaro?
Look at this healthy saguaro, four arms upraised to the sky.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Neighbors' Drop In

In our pledge to "keep it simple" this year, we kept our holiday invites to just a few favorite neighbors and it was just perfect for us.  Here's our table for sharing the good life, 2012, with our 13 year old dog, Lia, supervising the event.

Monday, December 24, 2012

God Bless Us Everyone

For the best three weeks, the "Magnificent Seven" at Kellond School (these are the 3rd graders I work with once a week) and I have been reading Dickens' "The Christmas Carol."  As is the case with the story "The Polar Express", many of them have seen the Disney movie of the story but had never read (or even heard of) the books.  I try to impress upon them the importance of the written word and even, in the case of older stories, how the oral tradition was the first way stories were passed on.  Some of them get the idea, but, what it all comes down to for me is the importance that stories have in our lives. 

Without stories, meanings to why we are are here, what we should do while in this life can become a rudderless journey.  Part of my moral compass story guide is the 1951 movie version of "The Christmas Carol".  It is my favorite Christmas story and we have it on tape to watch again this year.  When I was growing up, after singing in our Methodist early service youth choirs, my family would go to my Aunt Della Chuffo's house in Dundee, Illinois and watch the movie playing on WGN-TV. Parts of it terrified me, but mostly I felt its magic. Mark's favorite story is "It's a Wonderful Life."  That's on tomorrow night and we are planning our Christmas Eve around it on 7 p.m.

This year, the season's light seem to be shining a little less brightly for me--my dad's declining health, the Connecticut shootings, the fiscal cliff--all seem to be dark clouds hiding the stars.  Still there are "brightspots" to be found and experienced.  One of mine this week was going to Ben's Bells, making a donation for the Newtown 1000 Bells Project, painting some beads for the bells and sending a note of kindness from Tucson to Newton.  Here's a link so that you can do that, too.  And here's a photo from our earlier visit to Ben's Bells showing the colorfull tile bench at their UA/Main Gate studio location.

Just looking at the Power of Kindness photo makes me smile and I feel my life-boat sails unfurl.  And so, as Tiny Tim shouts out, atop Mr. Scrooge's shoulders:  "God Bless Us Everyone!"

Monday, December 17, 2012

Granddog, Dani

Aron and his girlfriend have a newly found and adopted puppy, named Dani.  She, like our Gray did with us, picked out her new family.  From wandering in the desert, with thorns and stickers, she has been bathed, leashed and now showered with toys and Science Diet puppy food.  Merry Christmas, Dani!

Friday, December 14, 2012

tiny tree

This year, for various reasons, I didn't feel like hauling out our big articfical tree and hanging the ornaments.  Instead, I went to Target yesterday and bought this tiny tree to decorate.  I am glad I did it last night, to gentle music from KUAT/Arizona Public Media, because, right now, I don't feel anything in my heart except a huge tightness where my tears of grief are stuck.  I had heard about about the shooting before leaving to meet Kellond School kids to watch Southwest Nutcracker ballet performance at the Tucson Music Hall.  It was a lovely performance and I so enjoyed watched some of the class on the edge of their seats, watching the magic of music and dance. 

But, because of the shooting in Connecticut, children were killed, their families are in grief, other children and their families are in trauma.  What can this tiny tree do against the violence of our culture?  Can it stand a little taller today and show resiliency?  I guess I will try to imagine that this is what hope looks like sometimes:  a tiny tree, standing alone, but still standing--its branches outstretched to give shelter and solace, an angel in white, gold star and candle to offer light.  As I finish writing this, I am lighting the candle....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Keeping Gray Warm

Since Gray is an outside cat, we've been bringing him into the garage after sunset as the desert winter has begun to roll in.  First, we added a layer to his bed floor by placing an old comforter underneath the cat bed.  Next, with near freezing temps the past two nights, I came up with the idea of using our heating pad underneath his bed.  Mark figured out how to hook it up and so now Gray keeps warm and toasty during the night.  In fact, so much so, he won't leave the garage and finally used the litter box we have placed there for weeks!! This morning, I watched as he stretched to lick up his soft food but kept one paw on the warm bed. So, we clearly have the winter shelter set for Gray and I do think about the homeless humans out there in the arroyos who don't have the comfort our cat does. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

A group photo

Yesterday was the wrap-up of a three day family event.  I am keeping my note simple on this: the group photo is of me, Mark, Aron, his girlfriend, Lora, and her daughter, Izzy.  We were very happy to have this fivesome at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch's buffet.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Afternoon ride

We just finished a fun, easy ride from home to UA Campus Farms.  I really like going there because it reminds me of biking from McClure Ave., in Elgin, Illinois to Randall Road where my Grandparents Dice had their small farm.  The light today was just perfect on the mountains and, on the way back, the new grass for the cattle glowed in pre-sunset.

taking a ride

I really am enjoying my new bike (Sedona model, made by Giant).  I like the way its compact fit works to help stabilize my ride and the front and seat suspension make the bumps almost non-existent.  I purchased it from RoadRunner Bicycles on E. Broadway and found the sales person, Gene, very knowledgeable and low-pressure.

I look forward to sharing more about my 1-7 geared life as it speeds up a bit (but I am holding back on the higher range--up to 21!).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Bike

As I try to shift my gears a bit higher for 2013, I decided to take the next step and buy a bike with gears (21) and hand brakes!  I did 3 miles yesterday and it was much easier than the slog with my 1960s Schwinn.  That one might go to BICAS who can fix it up and give it to someone who will continue to enjoy it. But for me, I am going to stretch my legs (maybe lose some pounds, if I am lucky) and definitely have fun on my new bike!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Simple String of Lights

I did a rare thing today: stayed in bed until 10 a.m.  I called a long distance friend and we talked for almost an hour.  She lives in Ohio and was facing a grey and dreary day so she stayed in bed as well.

My day, as per usual in Tucson, promises to be sunny and very warm.  I am not complaining, but I do like the earlier dark skies so that the desert cools off quickly and I can feel the soft paws (reference to Gray the cat) of winter stalking the sun as it sets.  I think this week was the "in between" holiday time I savor.  Thanksgiving remnants have been eaten or thrown into the garbage, Chanukah and Christmas ornaments are still in their boxes.  I did start my Advent Calendar yesterday and began to think about holiday decorating inside.  Mark put lights up last week and we are keeping it to a simple string around the front of the house--nothing elaborate inside or outside this year.

I think that's an image for myself as well: trying to keep the elaborations to a minimum, let the essence of who I am be shared in safe and sane company.  On the other hand, I want to try something new in 2013--and I am open to suggestions if you have any.