Category Archives: Uncategorized

Feeling Giddy

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We are feeling quite giddy post-wedding.  Last Saturday I let out woot woots of happiness throughout the day, joyful at not having anything wedding-related to attend to:  No deep cleaning of the house, nothing to purchase, no outdoor yard sprucing to be done. We could bask in the fact that everything wedding related went smoothly, and all had a great time at Patrick and Sam’s big wedding party!  The newlyweds enjoyed three days honeymooning at Disneyland in LA (the bride is a huge Disney fan), and they will soon be getting down to the arduous task of writing 200+ thank you notes!  I was amazed at the lovely, generous gifts they received.

Yesterday was a good day at my preschool.  Nobody wet their pants, only two of our three-year-olds would not nap, and only twice did a child lay prostrate on the ground, kicking and screaming. And happy, happy news:  I have off work today and tomorrow due to parent-teacher conferences. I love my job, but I also love time at home. I tried to tone down my gleefulness in front of my lead teacher, who was facing 13 one-on-one meetings with parents during the next few days. But how lovely today to meet my BFF Gail for lunch at The Farm at South Mountain instead of my typical 15-minute lunch while our students are at recess.  Gail and I have been lunching in this verdant pecan grove in South Phoenix for 20 years.  We ate our yummy sandwiches, then walked the grounds, exploring their vegetable gardens, the chicken coops and the cute gift shop, all the while catching up on our lives.

Later it felt like a treat to have alone time at home to multi-task.  Our daughter was away attending class at ASU and Hubby was at work, so I was a total spaz doing housework/checking Facebook/googling summer travel plans/finishing the novel Lord of the Flies/petting cats on the couch.

As sunset approached, I looked for a friend to walk with, but I ended up walking alone north through our neighborhood to the horse properties.  I smiled at the children having soccer practice in the park. I breathed in the scent of the pines and the horses and pots of flowers as I walked our Tempe streets. Best of all, I heard the hoo-hooing of our owl as I returned home, and saw two Gila woodpeckers on the tall pines in the park.

Life is good.

Cheers,

Mary

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Strong Women

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I am in Mexico.

Hubby and I drove down yesterday morning.  We were greeted by a smooth-as-glass sea and short-sleeve weather in the high 70s.  Bonus:  In the group of 20 single-level condos, there are only three occupied.  It feels downright sinful to have this slice of Paradise all to ourselves.  The ocean water is very cold.  After walking barefoot in the tide pools, I was eager to put on my thickest socks to warm my icy feet.

I brought a stack of novels and magazines, but instead sat in a chair on our patiodaydreaming and watching the birds dive into the ocean, admiring a long line of at least twelve dolphins swim slowly by.  I breathed in and out, letting my thoughts go here and there, losing myself in the gentle movements of the ocean.  I smiled thinking about happy hour with best friends the night before.  I LOVE my bossy friends–the strong women who don’t just smile and nod, but instead snort and say, “You’re doing it wrong!”  I was told I am too intrusive in my adult children’s lives, and more importantly that I am NOT allowed to wear sensible flat shoes to our son’s wedding in two weeks.  “But I want to dance all night,” I whined.  They patiently showed me photos of pretty shoes that would not hurt and would have hours of dancing built into them.  Another friend has been coaching my diet, sending me great ideas of how she lost weight last Fall, and another friend tells me how bad my brassieres are every time I see her.  To G, S, T, L, and L:  I will stop starving myself, and I will go to the mall this week to buy pretty party shoes and a new bra.  And I’ll consider not texting my children every day (not making any promises)!  I’m honored to have your love and friendship.

Speaking of strong women, I re-watched Terms of Endearment for probably the twentieth time.  You know, that old movie with Shirley Maclaine and Debra Winger.  (I love the expanded viewing choices on Mexican Netflix.)  The scene where Debra Winger gives her mom a small goodbye sign with her hand as she is dying gets me every time.  I thought this movie was an appropo choice since this past week I’ve been negotiating  a new situation of co-existing with our adult daughter.  The film gave me lots to think about and induced some waterworks from yours truly.

I mopped up my tears after the movie and went out on the patio to say goodnight to the stars.  Hubby and I gasped!  It was so dark you could barely see your hand in front of your face, but the sky!!!  The sky looked as if someone had thrown a hand full of diamonds onto black velvet.  It’s been years since I had a proper view of the stars.  The vastness and beauty felt overwhelming!  I was filled with an immense sense of peace while breathing in the ocean air and admiring the sparkling heavens. I felt as if the Universe was giving me a big hug and telling me, “Everything is going to be okay.” (And I’m pretty sure I heard, “And wear comfortable shoes to the wedding.”)

Cheers,

Mary

 

Christmas 2017

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Another Christmas on the books, and it was a good one.  My winter break from school started just three days before Christmas, so I didn’t have the usual planning time.  And my school’s evening Solstice program was during that last week (so stressful–I hate being on a stage!) but our students performed well.  We wrapped up our semester feeling proud, accomplished, and mostly exhausted.

It’s a lot of work, but we pulled off another fun Christmas cocktail party on Saturday the 16th with 25 of our closest friends, followed the next week by Christmas at our house.  Two days worth of meals for ten people is also a lot of work, but the Christmas Eve fondue was a hit, as were the ham and cheese strata for Christmas morning (I heart cheese) and steak dinner with English trifle for Christmas dinner.  So fun to have my sister and her family with us at the holidays!

And then, as happens many years after the holiday madness, I got sick.

Actually William got sick the day before I did.  He is 20 and home from college for the holidays.  He woke us up at 6am saying he had severe stomach pain.  Then the barfing started.  Then the diarrhea.  Dear God, the amount of liquids that exploded out of that guy!  It was horrifying and impressive all at the same time!  We let him continue this way for eight hours, then administered an expired tablet of Zofran, which indeed worked on the puking.  William begged me for Gatorade all day but for every sip he took, a cup would regurgitate!  My gag reflex is weak, and I almost lost it myself several times.  I was afraid to eat anything for two days wondering when I would begin with the stomach flu, but now it’s four days later, and hopefully Hubby and I are going to be okay.  Hubby missed most of the drama while refinishing our back yard gate in the garage.

And the next day I woke up with a cold.  It’s not much, though my cough sounds quite scary.  For two days I lay on the couch watching old movies (Dances with Wolves is so good!) and old tv shows (nope, I did NOT rewatch two seasons of Sex in the City because that would be wrong), but yesterday felt well enough to venture over to Steinmart to return a blouse.  The Gilbert store is staffed with and shopped in by elderly, chatty women.  Nearby the store are retirement communities, so many of these women are from other places.  Friendly places!  So while shopping and waiting in line I made ten new friends, and after not being out for several days, it was lovely to smile and chat with these nice people.  I also bought a pair of ballet flats for our son’s upcoming wedding. I tried on some heels and while nobody was looking, I did a few dance moves and almost fell on my keister.  Flats shoes it is!  I don’t want “remember when your mom fell down on the dance floor?” to be one of the cherished wedding memories.

I have another week off from school, but poor Hubby returns to work on Tuesday.  I just looked at the list I made of Fun Things To Do Over the Break:  Zoo Lights, Coach House for drinks, Breakfast at The Farm at South Mountain, bicycle to Twisted Cactus Pub, and hike.  Well.  Hike is the only thing we did before William and I got sick.  Coach House is the oldest pub in Scottsdale and apparently goes all out with Christmas lights, and The Farm is a lovely outdoor cafe in a pecan grove.  Perhaps I can find girlfriends to do these things with next week.  Life is good.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

Magic of the Holidays

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We FINALLY have our Christmas tree up in the living room.  As I’ve mentioned, we here in Tempe, AZ are still waiting for winter to arrive. So far we’ve had only two cold days with highs in the 60s, but otherwise all in the 70s and 80s.  Most of the fresh Christmas trees we saw today were, well, not fresh.  Brown and brittle from sitting in the heat for weeks, at the fourth store, we finally settled on a 6-foot Noble Fir.  It’s so much smaller than what we usually buy, but it smells good and is cheery.  We’ll only have space for about half our ornaments, however,  I’m looking on the bright side—decorating and undecorating the tree will be so much easier this year!

I spent much of the day trying to photograph our sleeping cats wearing some feathery angel wings I found in the ornament box.  The few times I caught Cosmo in a deep sleep, the pics were blurry.  The younger cats were having none of it, but I’m still hopeful to catch one unaware at the kibble bowl! (It’s good to have a hobby.)

I hope Hubby doesn’t notice that I moved the ugly ornaments he hung at the FRONT of the tree and placed them in the back.  Everyone knows the ONLY way to get rid of the ugly ornaments is to place them on the back of the tree, just near the tip of a very thin branch.  Then when the cats or the vacuum jostle it to the floor and it’s broken, there’s really nobody to blame . . . and you’re free of one more ugly ornament! (Since most of them were gifts, it would be wrong to throw them away . . . or would it?)

Hubby has spent HOURS trying to fix our old strings of lights.  Ohhh, if only I could channel that focus into looking into (and culling) old boxes of his mementos/text books/computer parts!  I hate having so much unnecessary stuff in my home, but I’m the ONLY one who feels that way.  It’s his house, too.  And 99% of the time he is a very good room mate!  I read a funny thing on the internet that went something like this:

Wife to a Friend over the phone:  “I got your party invitation.  Should I bring my weird room mate?”
Husband to Wife:  “HEY!!!  I heard that!!!”
(I love corny jokes.)

Weird Room mate and I (aka, Hubby) are being wined and dined tonight at F&D’s house, then the four of us will attend the Desert Botanical Garden Luminaria Night.  Hubby and I have attended every year for at least 25 years.  The garden paths are lined with luminarias, and there are various musical groups to encounter as you walk along, glass of cheer in hand.   It’s quite magical.

Hoping you are feeling the magic of the holidays,

Mary

 

 

Is it Winter Yet???

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Other than the less than stellar Thanksgiving day feast (see prior post), I had a very productive weekend.  I FINALLY planted my vegetable garden.  Our puny backyard bed which measures a meer 12′ x 6′ last year gave us more lettuce and spinach than we could eat!  I procrastinated on planting because a) it’s still SO hot here in Tempe, AZ, b) the bed was a total mess from being neglected for six months, and c) I couldn’t pawn the work off on Hubby because a few weeks ago, he hurt his back. I put on my gardening shoes and worked hard for hours while listening to good music and (annoyingly) the neighbor’s dog yapping on the other side of the fence. (Six months ago we got new neighbors, and I am optimistic that their horrible dog is elderly and on the brink of death.)  In my garden, I was able to scrape off a 2″ layer of fragrant mesquite leaves, plus pull out a summer’s worth of spurge weed, turn over the dirt, water the hell out of it, and the next day planted rows of spinach, mixed mesclun (that’s lettuce for you gardening newbies), green onions, and carrots.  Hubby bought me two tomato plants which I will get in the ground tomorrow. It was a lot of hard work, but last year this small plot brought me so much joy . . . and beaucoup salads!

Another accomplishment to crow about is getting our Christmas decor boxes down from the attics.  Good Lord, this is NOT an easy job.  It’s easy for me:  Each day I say to Hubby, “Gosh, I’m hoping you can get those boxes down for me so I can decorate for Christmas. I promise I’ll make it worth your while,” accompanied by suggestive winking.  Usually this works, and I can stand at the bottom of the ladder voicing concern with comments like, “Are you okay?” and “Don’t hurt yourself!” and “I’m holding the ladder steady!”

This year, Hubby has a bad back, so I had to beg our son, William, (home from college for the weekend) to please, please, please get the boxes down.  He was surprisingly cheery about it, although was clearly nervous while perched on the very top of the ladder trying to coax hard-to-reach boxes into his hands, then pass them down.  But with encouragement from me and help from Hubby, all ten boxes were retrieved from two attics. One attic is over the kids’ shower, so that involves the ladder balancing half on the tile and half in the shower stall.  The other attic is over the garage, but the rod that the garage door hangs on goes midway over the hole.  Every year I look at Hubby and say, “Why can’t we make that hole larger???”  The lesson to be taken from this long story is that now that poor William has shown he can do this job, he will likely be doing it for us next year . . . and the year after, and the year after (methinks with an evil smile).

Other than that, over the weekend we had two lovely dinners with two different groups of old, dear, and hilarious friends (laughing with friends is one of the best things in life, don’t you agree?).  Hubby took me on a day date to the Phoenix Art Museum where we admired favorite exhibits such as Black Cloud and You Who Are Being Obliterated by Fireflies.  So beautiful and magical, and we felt like we were on vacation, even though we never left our home town.

Crossed fingers that this cursed heat will pack its bags and leave.  I’m reminded of that movie Groundhogs Day, in that you wake up each day and think things will have changed.  But no!  Here in Tempe, AZ, it is still summer! Today it was 88 degrees!  I love love love love love love love Christmas, and I’m so excited about this coming holiday season.  Perhaps we will be eating Christmas dinner in shorts after a swim?

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

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

 

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