My New Green Tutu

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I’ve heard that one sign of having a job you enjoy is that time flies by quickly while you’re at work. I love my job, and definitely the days pass so quickly that I’m not sure where the time goes.  Today, too much of my time was spent in the bathroom, but our three year old students are still working on “control” (if you know what I mean).  One particularly stinky incident this afternoon activated my gag reflex—oh my goodness, I’m so glad I did not barf on our wee student!  (Enough about that.)

After school, a lovely gentlemen from Ideal Energy came to my house to conduct an energy audit.  My brother and sister-in-law had one performed at their house recently with great results, and after a recent summer family dinner here where everyone was gleaming with sweat even though our AC was blowing full blast, I thought it was either time to give up summer parties . . . or get the danged AC fixed.  The energy audit results will be emailed soon, but apparently we have lots of duct work problems.  GOOD GRIEF.

When our auditor first arrived, he explained the process, then I allowed him to proceed through the house.  He’d been up and down the stairs twice before I realized there was a bad smell coming from that area.  Upon closer inspection, I found a HUGE cat poop mixed with dog kibble right in the middle of the landing.  UGH.  I was so embarrassed.  I’m certain Ruby the Wonder Spaniel is the culprit . . . and just eeeuuuuwww.  I got to be embarrassed again a few minutes later when the auditor pointed out the large pile of ashes in the fireplace and asked if I could cover them so as not to make a mess when he did the pressure testing.  Clearly these ashes were from last winter (January to be exact) since the temps here in Tempe, Arizona are still in the 90s every day.  I paused and thought about making up something about celebrating Fall early or some such BS, but instead just turned pink and covered the mess.  (Cleaning the fire place is a dreaded task.) Then, as I walked the auditor out, I noticed the body of the ginormous scorpion I killed last night on the front door mat.  Nothing says “Welcome to our Home” like a dead scorpion, right?  Add onto all that the fact that I got really excited opening my Amazon package and yelled, “MY NEW TUTU IS HERE!!!”  (I was sharing the good news with Eve, who was here doing homework.)

It’s a weird world out there, and I’m counting on the fact that the energy auditor has seen way stranger households than ours.  And I’m truly very excited about my tutu:  It’s forest green and super fluffy.  It fits perfectly.  It’s part of my Halloween costume!  I’m dressing as a flower garden, or maybe Mother Nature, or perhaps a character from a Midsummer’s Night Dream.  I don’t have to decide yet and am excited to have something new to wear to the school carnival.  I’ve been the Tooth Fairy WAY too many times.

The auditor is gone.  Eve went home.  Hubby has happy hours every day this week due to a local conference.  The house is very quiet.  I decided I’m gonna bake some pumpkin muffins in my new tutu and singing loudly to my favorite tunes.  Best Tuesday ever.

Cheers,

Mary

 

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Beach Butterfly Parade

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Monday, October 9, 2017

I am in Mexico.

This morning, I awoke to the most amazing sight:  Thousands of Monarch butterflies floating over our patio!  Hubby and I sipped our coffee and laughed out loud at the amazing amount of them flying by, admiring their beauty and feeling so fortunate to be here during the migration.  I tried to video the butterflies, but alas, my camera phone is no good.  Picture this:  One small orange butterfly would flitter by on the breeze just above my head, then a few seconds later two or three would come by.  We watched them float upwards and over the buildings, only to see when we later took a walk that they were flying over the roof top to have a snack on the neighbor’s bougainvillea.  Walking down the beach road with butterflies flying all about us was so beautiful and so strange,  it actually occurred to me I might be dreaming. A good pinch dispelled me of that notion. It’s late afternoon now, and there are still a few lone butterflies floating about, all of them flying west towards town.

We saw so many beautiful things at the beach this weekend.  I love teasing the hand-sized crabs who think they are hiding so well in the sand, but when gently prodded with a toe, quickly scuttle away sideways. (The crab is my astrological sign which I do not think fits in any way; the Cancers who I know are not crabby at all, but are very happy, thoughtful people.)  I spent time sitting in a warm tide pool and was happy to see small Sergeant Major fish floating in the same pool as I was.  The majestic Osprey stood stoically on his man-made perch just east of our place. The nest is overly huge, so I’m thinking he must have eggs or babies he is protecting. Twice a day we see the man with his horses for rent walking down the beach.   All of them are tethered except for one young dark-brown foal who hangs back, testing the caballero who leads them, then when they get too far ahead, the young horse begins to feel worried and gallops to join the rest of the group.  It makes me laugh every time. We’ve tried to identify the many birds we see on the beach, but our bird guide is for California and is of no use.

As we swam in the warm water yesterday afternoon, we were enveloped by huge clouds of tiny silver fish.  Two-inches long and completely metallic silver, we “think” they are sardines, but neither of the two zoology books in the condo have info on them. We’ve certainly seen them before.  The birds loved the great fishing; we loved the feeling of being in a huge school of tiny sparkly fish (I’m talking thousands of fish swimming densely together) tickling our legs and toes.

Today the pelicans returned to their mostly odd-numbered flocks, allowing me to stand by my completely unscientific analysis of coastal bird behaviors.  In that same vein, Hubby shared with me that he’s noticed when the tide is all the way in, it is flat at the shore, and when it’s coming in, the tide is angled toward the west . . . and when the tide is going out, it’s angled to the east.  I narrowed my eyes and said, “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”  He shrugged and said this scientific finding was in direct correlation to how many beers he’d consumed at that time.

There is magic in this place. I can feel it as soon as my bare toes hit the warm sand and I inhale all the rich ocean smells. Maybe all beaches are like this: full of surprises, unexpected beauty, and interactions with nature that leave one full of questions. I fell in love with this place when I was here for the first time at age 13; at 53 I’m still in love with this gentle Sea of Cortez, our little neighborhood called Las Conchas, and this small town of Puerto Penasco, Mexico.

It’s finally happy hour, and there’s a cold bottle of Pacifico waiting for me in the fridge. Tonight Hubby and I will watch the bright stars twinkle in the dark sky over the ocean, and we’ll wait for the waning full moon to slowly climb up the eastern horizon.  We’ll feel grateful for this beautiful day, along with a hint of regret at having to return home tomorrow.

Cheers,

Mary

 

An Even Pelican Kind of Day

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

I am in Mexico.

I’m grateful to have two days off for our school’s Fall Break, which gives Hubby and me FOUR WHOLE DAYS at the beach. I have grown so attached to my young students and just when I was starting to miss them, I ran into one of them in a restaurant in town!  How fun to compare stories of our day at the beach! (Over the years I have come to believe that many times the Universe gives you what you need.)

One of the favorite books in our class of three year olds is about Pete the Cat. When he has problems (like stepping in mud in his new white shoes) the book asks us, “Does Pete mind? Goodness no!” and then a picture shows Pete saying “Groovy!” or “Rock and Roll!” or “It’s all good!” This weekend I’ve been channeling our friend Pete the Cat.  The wifi in our condo is down and at first I was anxious about not having 24/7 access to the world, but it’s turned out to be a really good thing.  I’ve read half a novel, four magazines, and taken two really great naps. Rock and Roll! Groovy!

We made great time on the road and arrived at our beach condo Saturday at 2pm. We’d anticipated huge crowds of folks on Fall Break at the border, but for whatever reason, there was no line at all and very little traffic. We arrived to see a very pleasant group on the beach—nobody blasting stereos and everyone cleaning up after themselves.  We’re always disappointed to see a large group set up on the beach RIGHT IN FRONT of our place, and sure enough:  There was a large group of guys with umbrellas and a big pop-up shade.  I took a deep breath and channeled Pete the Cat and shrugged to Hubby, “It’s groovy.”  And it was–it turned out the the group of 14 guys were very quiet. In fact, they seemed downright bored!  I know if it were a group of women, Hubby would dub them a “Hen Party” so I searched my brain for a male equivalent. I settled on “Buddy Fest.” Bachelor party?  Church group?  Gay choir vacation?  Fraternity reunion? They politely sipped their canned beers, standing and chatting in the tide. One man flew a kite.  They packed up at sunset, and we never saw them again. (I love to make up stories about strangers, don’t you?)

If you’ve read this blog before, you know one of my favorite things to do at the beach is count pelicans. Over the many years of vacationing at this beach, I’ve come to believe that the Puerto Penasco pelicans travel in groups of odd numbers most of the time.  Well.  Yesterday ALL the groups of pelicans flying overhead were in groups of EVEN numbers.  I tried to skew the data by counting 18 pelicans, then adding the one guy flying solo about 30 seconds behind. This happened over and over again, until Hubby stated (in a wise voice), “I guess it’s just an Even-Pelican Kind of Day!”  All I know is I think I saw more pelicans Saturday than I have during the whole rest of the year!  We literally saw thousands that afternoon. Where are they going?  What will they do there?  Why are they in such a hurry?

Ruby the Wonder Spaniel is not at the beach with us.  Her hips have grown too painful for her to easily come up and down the stairs to our tiny beach condo.  She loves the beach so much that I’m thinking we will bring her next time, perhaps dragging her down on a blanket and at the end of the day, Hubby could carry her back up the stairs. I am missing Ruby and our cats, but how lovely for the two of us to have a short respite in this beautiful place where the sound of the ocean lulls us to sleep, and there is nothing much to do but enjoy each other’s company, read a good book, and appreciate the fantastic beauty of this Sea of Cortez.

Cheers,
Mary

Boogers, Band Aids, and BVDs

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As most of you know, I am a preschool teacher.  This job is perfect for me because a) it does not involve sitting in a cubicle at a desk b) there are lots of snacks and c) we have nap time every afternoon from 1-2:30.  My job this year is to assist my lovely lead teacher, Andrew, while together we teach our class of Three Year Olds everything from letters and numbers, to manners, to how to say sorry, and explaining in a Very Patient Voice why even though it IS so much fun to watch a plastic lizard fly across the room, it’s not a safe thing to do when it lands on a friend and makes them cry.  It’s a very nuanced job, with lots of action.  I would not be wrong in stating that every week we have blood, sweat, and tears (sometimes theirs . . . sometimes mine).

Today started out cheerily with Music Class, everyone’s favorite.  During the ten minutes in which Jay taught us the Halloween song, Five Little Pumpkins, I was handed two boogers, two used band aids, and helped one poor friend whose BVDs had rolled over several times at the top (OUCH).  I chuckled thinking about how fun it would be to have a “Mary Cam” attached to my forehead so you could smile along with me when a small friend sings Juice Box Hero in the bathroom or another friend insists their shoes are on the correct feet—even when they are not.  I am in love with every one of my students and am excited to see how wise and caring they’ve become in just seven short weeks.

(This just in from Wikipedia: BVD is a brand of men’s underwear, which are commonly referred to as “BVDs.” The brand was founded in 1876 and named after the three founders of the New York City firm Bradley, Voorhees & Day (thus “B.V.D.”). The term came to be used, however incorrectly, for any underwear in the style popularized by BVD. The BVD brand, originally produced for men and women, is now produced solely for men by Fruit of the Loom.  I knew you’d want to know.)

In other news, I made the most delicious, mouth-watering stew over the weekend.  Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon (not easy to spell) was a cinch and is melt in your mouth.  I found the recipe online and made it easier by taking out the deglazing of the pan (is that EVER really necessary??).  I think this beef stew is company worthy.  Serve it with crusty bread and a big salad.  (Can anyone tell me why we can’t call them crock pots anymore???)

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Get out your slow cooker.  In a large pan, cook five slices of bacon.  Using scissors, cut cooked bacon into small pieces and place them in the slow cooker.  Without cleaning the bacon pan, brown the beef for a few minutes so the beef chunks are browned on all sides.  Dump those into the slow cooker.  You are done with the pan.

Into the slow cooker, place the remaining items. Cook on medium for six hours, or until the beef is tender.  Bon Appetit!!!

  • 5 slices bacon
  • 3 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut to 2 inch chunks
  • 1 cup red cooking wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • small can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons thyme
  • 8 Medium Carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pound potatoes, cleaned
  • 8 ounce fresh mushrooms, sliced

Cheers,

Mary

A Love Story

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Once upon a time there was a girl and a boy.  She was a freshman in high school, and he was a junior.  They were in marching band together, and he thought she was really cute. He asked a friend to tell her he liked her . . . to which she responded, “Eeeeuwww!”  This boy wore aviator glasses, and his favorite attire was a brown suede vest with sheepskin lining.  He always teased the girl, especially when she was trying to be funny. Desperately in need of a haircut, he did not (at first glance) seem like the dreamboat this girl was hoping to meet in her first year of high school.

That boy and girl were Hubby and me back in 1978.  Even though I was not romantically interested, we hung out a lot and got to be really good friends.  We were pen pals during the summer while he was visiting his grandparents in Decatur, AL.  When he returned to Tempe in August, (after a year of friendship), we had our first kiss.  It was August 19, 1979.   We were serious for a year, but then Hubby went off to college, so we broke it off and dated other people until we (luckily) got back together again in August of 1997. We were married on a very hot Saturday in July in 1988 with friends and family in attendance and celebrated with a week-long honeymoon in Hawaii. (If you can hear me in Heaven, thank you Clifford and Evelyn! Our honeymoon was amazing!)

Fast Forward to Saturday, August 19, 2017.  Hubby and I were hashing over our “To Do List” for the day when I looked at the calendar and gasped.  “It’s August 19th!” I said.  We haven’t celebrated this date in a LONG time, so I had to explain to Hubby what it meant. I made him do the math . . . it was the 38th anniversary of our first kiss!  We had a lovely long smooch, and then both of us grimaced realizing how incredibly old we are!

But the funny thing is that when you marry your best friend, it doesn’t feel like a long time.  You have fun. You don’t argue.  You agree on almost everything.  You problem solve together.   You have things in common!  We both love the beach.  We both love good art. We both love craft beers.  We’re foodies.   We love our pets (three cats and a dog). We’re both worried about what’s happening in the world and talk about it every day.  We are frugal on every day stuff so that we can travel each summer and see cool new places. Hubby is sweet to attend concerts with me (I love seeing live music) even when he isn’t familiar with the band, like last week when we saw Jillian Banks at the new music venue, the Van Buren in downtown Phoenix.  We like to work in the yard together and go shopping together.  Hubby is an amazing listener; and when it’s my turn to listen to his job stuff, I try SO HARD to not go to my happy place in my head while he describes his travails with the WAN and the LAN and his other computer networks.

I’m trying to think of things we’ve argued about over the years, and I guess the biggest thing would be laundry.  I LOVE to do laundry, because basically you bring stuff downstairs, put it in a machine that does all the work, then you move it to another machine that does all the work, and when it beeps, you retrieve it and you feel like YOU have done all the work!  So Hubby has to deal with wrinkled laundry (because nobody likes to FOLD laundry, right?)  Besides laundry, there have been weekly discussions about work/life balance (uh hum), but overall, I can’t imagine being married to a better guy.

We enjoy each other’s company best over anyone else’s–excepting the company of our children, of course.  We support each other and try to do the right thing (though we don’t always succeed).  I’m the idea guy; he’s the implementer.  I smush the bugs; he picks them up.  Well, you get the idea.  Hubby,  I love you and hope to have 38 more years of kissing you!!!

Cheers,

Mary

 

Kitchen Dancing

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It occurred to me tonight as I sat down to my computer to write this that I felt much like a pianist approaching a piano, situating myself just right in my seat and getting my mind in the correct place. I spent many years as a musician.  Did I ever tell you I was once a flute player?  All those hours in a practice room and again at home, trying to get every single note just right.  And I played piccolo, and ukulele.  I used to think I had a nice singing voice, but my allergies make me sound like a sick toad. (I miss my old voice so much that I have an appointment with the allergist next week.)

Moving on:  I told you last week that our refrigerator died, and we had to buy a new one. This week, our washing machine decided to spew all of its water onto the laundry room floor!  I put a load of wash in, went on a short errand, and came back to an inch of water on the floor. Hubby spent an hour fixing it on Saturday (Me:  “My Hero!  Thank you so much!”), but the next load proved the barrel was not spinning properly.  It’s ten years old and honestly, I’m glad to be done with this front loader with its stinky rubber seal! The next day, William’s car battery died, I found two termite trails, and the coffee pot gave up the ghost.   Also I need the carpets cleaned due to, well, doo.  Ruby the Wonder Spaniel is not waiting for me to get home and keeps “going” in Patrick’s old room. I hate to spend money on boring stuff like appliances and home upkeep, don’t you?

In other news:  I’ve just pushed through four weeks of personal growth.  (Cry, whine, scream, shiver, moan, sigh.)  Since William went back to college, I’ve been lonely.  I am NOT good at being alone.  Hubby works hellacious hours so for the first time in my life, I am alone in my house for many hours each day.  All that time alone was making me mad and sad and a bit grumpy.

Yet . . . I’m actually starting to enjoy it!  I’ve been meeting friends for coffee (or a pint of beer) many evenings after work, and it’s nice to not have to worry about being home at a certain time.  And when I’m alone at home, I can do WHATEVER I WANT!  For example, tonight I got home from work at 5:30 and began baking muffins.  All alone, I could choose the music with nobody complaining. It was really hot in our house, so I took off my pants. I danced in the kitchen knowing nobody would judge my poor dance moves. Then I danced with one of our cats, with nobody around to think that’s weird.  I talked to myself, with nobody around to think that’s weird.  Nobody was there to chide me for eating the ice cream straight from the container (and I smoothed it over so Hubby won’t notice–the freezer kills germs, right?).

Okay, I’ll finish this up with a poem about personal growth (by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) that I had on the front of my fridge for many years.  I am not religious, so I take out the word “God” and replace it with “Universe”.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste. 
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
— that is to say, grace —
and circumstances
— acting on your own good will — 
will make you tomorrow.

Cheers,

Mary

The Good Place

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I have to tell you about the funniest show I watched last week called The Good Place, in which a “bad” woman ends up in Heaven by mistake.  Who doesn’t love Kristen Bell? Who doesn’t love Ted Danson?  Who doesn’t love a story about the afterlife? Find it on Netflix, and wait a few weeks for the second season to begin soon on NBC.  A witty bit in the show is when our main character tries to swear (which isn’t allowed in Heaven), so her curse words turn into “Fork!” and “Bullshirt!” and my very favorite, “Holy Motherforking Shirtballs!”

I’ve been trying to incorporate those “almost” curse words into my own lingo, which is especially helpful when I’m raging at the zillions of self-driving Waymo cars constantly cruising through our neighborhood.  When I first spotted these abominations in March, I found it interesting. By May, I was thoroughly irritated . . . and now I’m simply unnerved! Seeing that bulbous-roofed vehicle on every street on every day . . . even Sundays (!!!) is just wrong.  These cars have cameras on them, and how is that legal???  Every time I see one, I say, “Forking Waymos” and give them a special hand gesture.  I contacted a city council member to ask if the city is getting kickbacks and the answer was no.  I’m on the HOA for our ‘hood, so I know we were never asked permission, nor are we getting any money for the inconvenience to our neighborhood.  Last week, I contacted Waymo by email asking when they would be done here and requesting they move on to another neighborhood, citing the fact that our neighborhood was designed specifically to reduce traffic and that having eight Waymo cars constantly driving down our streets is not something any of us likes.  I’m waiting for a response (and am not holding my breath) and will continue to say a heartfelt, “Fork You” to each vehicle that slows me down on the way to the grocery store.

In other news, last week I was super crazy happy to be getting rid of SO MUCH STUFF from my house and donate it to be sold at our high school’s annual percussion garage sale.  You may recall my horror at entering our ASU rental home after I evicted our daughter and her roommates to find they had left so much stuff behind.  Hand on the Bible, it looked like they had merely stepped out for lunch.  The kitchen was fully stocked with pots, pans, and silverware, the fridge and the pantry were full of food, and there was even a wet towel left in the shower. There were couches and dressers and desks. I was so happy to take all of that (in multiple trips in my small Prius) over to the school for sale.

I was also ecstatic to get rid an ugly antique velvet chair which we inherited from Hubby’s grandmother.  Hubby likes to hang onto stuff; he is not a hoarder, but is really sentimental.  The Grandmother Chair came with much history:  GG Mom always told us, “When I’m gone, you must take this chair that Ms. Hoff from across the street gave me. It’s one of a kind; it’s so special. Promise me you’ll take it!”  So of course, when she passed away, we had it shipped from Decatur, Alabama, and it’s sat collecting cat hair in the spare room for 12 years.  I was puzzled why the chair was so important.  Friends suggested there was cash hidden inside (no). I tried to sell it to an antique store, but no luck.  So on Friday, I snuck it over to the school garage sale, feeling so happy to un-clutter my house, and feeling pretty good about the fact that Hubby would never notice.

Well.  Saturday morning we woke up and were each looking at Facebook.  Hubby says, “It looks like the Percussion Garage Sale is today!”  I responded, “Hmmm, I bet everything is pretty much gone by now.”  A minute later, Hubby says, “HEY!  Is that my grandmother’s CHAIR!”  ACCKKK!  Somebody had taken a pic of the goods for sale and posted it!  I held my breath and I waited for World War III, but Hubby was actually very sweet about it, especially after I checked to make sure said chair had been sold to a happy buyer.  (We have toooooo much stuff, and it makes me crazy!)

I hope all is well with all of you during this crazy weather week. PLEASE, Mother Nature, help us out a bit.  Hurricanes?  Fires? Floods?  111 degrees when I get in my car to come home after school?  I’m sending SO MUCH positive energy into the Universe for all of those who are struggling in the hurricane and fire zones.  We have three empty bedrooms if anyone needs a place to wait out the disasters.

Cheers,

Mary