Tag Archives: hiking

Following My Bliss


Raise your hand if you use the voice-to-text app on your phone.  I certainly do, and while it’s quicker than typing, oftentimes my words are “misheard” and can lead to very confusing text messages.   One time I mistakenly texted our daughter, “Please check your ass again,” and to our oldest son, I texted, “Has your new brother arrived?”  I can’t recall what I actually said to my phone, but to these texts my children usually respond with a “WHAT???”

Yesterday I could not find a box of Allegra D that I’d just purchased.  My friend Fran told me to buy the “good stuff” that has the decongestant, the one you have to sign for at the pharmacy window and swear you’re not cooking meth.  After I searched the house, it finally occurred to me perhaps William had taken it to college with him and yep, that’s where it went.  This is where the voice to text gaffe happened:

Me:  Did you try the pills?  I think you should only use them when you’re super snuggly.

William:  Have not tried them yet.  I’m not usually very snuggly though so it might be a while.

Me:  *snuffly* !!!!!

Him:  Oh alright then that makes more sense.

Lately, I’ve been super snuffly (and snuggly) but have decided to enjoy the good weather while I can, boogers be damned. Three times last week I hiked, twice at a new spot my friend Lois showed me which is a loop of the Desert Classic trail south of the big entrance at Pima Canyon.  It’s hidden in a neighborhood, and we practically had the place to ourselves.  I’m going again tomorrow with gal pals and am excited to show them this quiet mountain where yellow wildflowers bloom amongst the jumping cholla, saguaros, and red-tipped ocotillo.

I subbed two days last week in the early Fours class and had truly delightful days surrounded by adorable children and teachers.  My bucket felt full.  Both days I baked yum-yums to leave in the kitchen for hungry teachers, but both times, my recipes failed enough that I sent the baked goods to work with Hubby instead.  (Those IT engineers will eat anything!)  The first recipe was a tried-and-true carrot cake recipe from Susan Branch, however, I decided to bake it in muffin form.  Well.  The muffins were so sticky, you could barely get them out of the cupcake papers–plus they looked, well, too shiny.  The second recipe was a NY Times ginger cookie.  Shame on me for not using my Grandma Summer’s fabulous gingersnap cookie recipe which always works out perfectly.  This recipe produced flat cookies that tasted good, but looked terrible.  Hubby took those to work as well.

Last week I attended the first class of six studying a book by Louise Hay called, You Can Heal Your Life. We meet a mile from my house and the class only cost $100.  The teacher is a spiritual life coach and was recommended to me by two friends. While I certainly don’t feel like my life needs healing, I thought it would be nice to meet some new people and to explore a new philosophy–I’m always trying to figure out ways to make my life work better. This subbing job is not working out for me—I’m spending way too much time home alone, feeling lazy and not useful.  This week’s homework is to make a goal and then create an affirmation to be repeated 400 times (!) each day. My week’s goal is to make this job situation work for me, or find a new job, or start writing the novel I wrote in my head. So my mantra for the week is “I am following my bliss” which is shorthand for, “please, oh please, Universe, guide me to what it is I’m supposed to be doing every day which will feel rewarding and get me out of the house doing meaningful work.”   It all feels, well, a bit silly, but I plan to give it my full attention and see what happens.  Who know?  Maybe I’ll find my bliss.






Is there a time of the week more heavenly than Saturday morning?  The whole weekend lays before you with so many possibilities for fun.  Tonight I hope Hubby will take me out on the town–maybe stop by the new Samurai exhibit at the art museum, then over to Angel Trumpet Ale House to try one of their 31 flavors of beer on tap, or maybe over to Taco Guild for their drool-worthy beef&blue cheese&cherry tacos (I swear they are the best food invented, after chicken shwarma).   I’m going to zip up my sexy tall leather boots and find my reddest lipstick, and uh oh, now I have Lyle Lovett’s song, What Do You Doin my head:

“You could put on some makeup
And you could pile up your hair
And at least try to do something
With what you’ve got there
You could tell me you love me
To put off my blues
But what do you do
Say what do you do?”

But now we are suiting up for a hike over at the War Paint Trail.  I’ve been walking a lot this past month, but not really getting my heart rate up.  So even though I prefer to bear to the right and go on the flat trails, I’m going to be brave and say, “let’s go left” which means steep inclines that leave me gasping.  Or maybe we’ll go straight and do the zig zag trail Corona del Loma trail that rewards you with a beautiful view of the Gila River Indian reservation to the south.  It’s the best time of year for a dusty walk among the blooming creosote and stately saguaros.

The tension is gone from our quaint little neighborhood (which I talked about in my last entry).  Our mentally unstable neighbor is in jail awaiting his bail hearing.  SO SAD.  There is a bustle of activity at their house as his wife prepares the home for sale.  It’s lovely with high-end everythings so will probably sell quickly.  Come be our next door neighbor!  I’d say the only annoying things about living next door to us is Cosmo occasionally walks the fence and might take a wee catnap on your patio, and Ruby the Wonder Spaniel barks every time I take out the trash.  She thinks the bag is a doggy pinata and often manages to bite a hole in the bottom, rewarding her with some stinky trash.  Good dog.  I hatched a plan to scare off any undesirable potential neighbors touring the house:  I’m going to fill a bag with beer cans which will be thrown on the lawn, and in my bikini will do yard work while listening to rap music played at a loud volume.

Happy Saturday!!!




Chasing Cars


My house is very quiet this morning.  Hubby is back to work.  College Boy William is still asleep and will be until noon.  Feeling lonely, I opened the front blinds to watch neighbors walking their dogs.  They are happy, and the cold air can be seen in the fog of their breaths.  Our dog cannot go for a walk; she was born with terrible hips and the surgery made it worse.  Ruby misses Hubby today and whines “squee squee” from the landing of the stairs.  It will take a few days, but she’ll get used to our new schedule.  I am keenly missing Morning Meeting at my school; it will take a few days, but I, too, will get used to my new schedule.

Today I have 60 minutes of time I must “serve” at the gym, lunch with my oldest friend (we met in Mr. McQueen’s 7th grade class at Connolly Middle School), then a few errands. It’s not really enough to fill a day.  My goal is better health, so I remind myself that the weather is beautiful and I can ride my bike, take a walk, or drive ten minutes to reach the War Paint Trail and do a walk in/around South Mountain.  I think the term “hiking” does not accurately describe our little walks on the well-designated paths.

If it were up to me, I’d hike every day.  The only problem is a big one:  I’m afraid to hike alone!  I know I’m being ridiculous.  I have friends who hike alone all the time.  As far as I know, not one of them has broken any limbs or been bitten by a rattlesnake.  I’ve “practiced” hiking alone by walking far ahead on the trail while hiking with Hubby.  I’ll pretend I’m alone, but still, at every blind corner I imagine a slobbering zombie, a rabid coyote, or some sort of deranged dentist with a drill in hand waiting to attack me. It’s no good.

Starting next week, I’ll be doing a lot of things solo.  William will return to college, and I will be here alone. Soooooo, since I’m terrible at entertaining myself, I’ve made a long list of Things to Do so I Won’t Get Blue. Hiking is on that list, along with Organizing My Life, and Writing the Great American Novel.  Easy peasy.

One thing I know is I will need to get out of the house.  The retired postman who lives across the street from me uses the blower each afternoon for an hour.  It sounds like he is IN MY HOUSE with the blower (it’s very loud).  He is a nice man but has an obsession with that blower. When he’s not blowing, he likes to detail his car in the driveway—with music from the 1970s blaring from his radio.  I asked the neighbors if they’d go in on an Ipod for him but, alas, they have known him longer than I and say there is no fixing his ways.  His other hobby is walking his baying beagles—almost as loud as the blower, but not quite as loud as his radio.  My theory is some people are simply louder than others.

The other reason to leave my house is because of what we call The Loud Car.  It’s been in our neighborhood for about a year now.  At first, I ignored it.  We’ve lived here 15 years and the annoying things (like loud cars, kids on electric scooters, cars with rap on car radios, baseball practice right outside our window in the greenbelt) always go away in a short time.  But not The Loud Car.  Hubby and I have tried to catch a glimpse of it, but it is very quiet as it exits its own street, however, once it reaches the street behind ours, it accelerates. It can be heard for a half mile in any direction. I’ve actually hopped in my car to try to find it when I saw it out my window.  What will I do when I identify it?  I’m not sure.  Place a nice note on the windshield with directions to a muffler shop?  I know this too shall pass, and I realize I need to find a better hobby than chasing cars.




Holiday Fun


We are having such a lovely holiday break; we’ve spent time with family and friends, slept in every day, and eaten our own weight in baked goods.  Every year, Hubby has off from work Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, and every year, we end up getting snarky with each other.  This morning he verbally committed to doing repairs at Eve’s house tomorrow. Five minutes later when I texted the kids to let them know to expect him, he got all blustery and was so irritated that I was “scheduling his time” for him.  In a patient voice I said, “All I told them is expect you after 10am.  You do not have to be there at 10am.  I’m telling them they don’t have to get up early.”  He huffed and puffed, I rolled my eyes, and we retreated to separate corners.

I texted a few friends to see if anyone wanted to hang out (since clearly being away from Hubby was the first thing on my list) but nobody was available.  I started laundry.  I read a chapter of a book.  I cleaned the toilets.  Hubby puttered in the garage and up in our bathroom. I was still thinking mean thoughts about him when he came downstairs beaming and says, “I cleaned all of the hair out of the drains!”  Well.  If that isn’t true love, then tell me what is?  He gave me a smooch . . . and we put our tiff behind us.

The rest of the days have gone smoothly. We’ve seen movies (Dr. Strange and Fantastic Beasts–both excellent), eaten at a new restaurant (Tom Thumb BBQ and car wash in Scottsdale), and hiked in two new locations.  Our first hike was a 45-minute drive away in the Superstition Mountains and is called the Wave Cave Trail.  A young teacher friend told me it was an easy hike.  HAHAHAHAHA.  I’m the first one to admit I’m out of shape, but wow, this trail kicked me in the arse.  The last half mile is quite steep and winding and involves crawling over large boulders.  Hubby lent me his arm to assist, but there were several points where I gave up my pride and crawled like a dog on all fours.  My heart beat so fast that every two minutes or so, I had to rest to catch my breath.  We persevered and were rewarded with a beautiful view from the cave . . . which slopes rather dramatically toward the cave opening. My fear of heights threatened to take over, but in my head I shouted in a stern voice, GO AWAY!!!  And it worked.  This unreasonable fear is as palpable as a leg cramp, a feeling of nausea, or a headache and can come on just as quickly—and causes me embarrassment and anxiety.

Our next hike was at Spur Cross Trail.  I’d been there two years ago with girlfriends when water was running in the creek.  We’d found the area so charming!  There are clearly two different landscapes situated side by side in this area:  the west side of the conservation area is dense desert with some of the largest saguaros and jumping cholla I’d ever seen, but the eastern trails run by a babbling brook and are rich with ironwood trees shading the paths, green grasses, and here and there you can see melancholy brick foundations of a dude ranch which had its hay day from 1925-1955.  Yesterday Hubby and I found only hot dry trails and no babbling brook.  It was still fun to explore a new place together, however, with no water running in Cave Creek, it wasn’t worth our one-hour drive each way.

To finish up our time off, we have tickets to luminaria night at the botanical gardens for New Year’s Eve (my very favorite holiday event).  New Year’s Day will find us experimenting with our new electric meat smoker and the drone the kids gifted to Hubby for Christmas. Life is good.

Happy New Year!


The Day William Left for College


August 25th.  This date had been on our calendar for a year.  Northern Arizona University Move-In Day.  I felt so fortunate that Northern Arizona University had the latest start date of all our Arizona colleges.  Weeks ago when my friends were stressed and sad, inside my tiny little heart I felt gleeful that I had TWO MORE WEEKS with my kid.  But alas, the day arrived.

Friday morning we were calm and cool, checking items off the long supply list, me darting up and down the stairs to find the stuff missing from the huge stack of college-bound items. Ruby, the Wonder Spaniel sensed something was up and jumped into the car, refusing to get out. She was very sad when we pulled her out and made her go inside, then WE were sad as we saw her watching us from the front window as we drove away.  She and William are best friends, so I’m sure Ruby will be needing extra cuddles from Hubby and me with William away (sob).  On the road by 9:30, we stopped for “brunch” at In and Out. Oh man, I’ve not indulged in several years, and wow, it was tasty.   The drive up the mountain was a chore with so many commercial trucks going slow but we were not on a schedule and, three hours after leaving home, we arrived safe and sound to the beautiful, pine tree studded, cool fresh air of Flagstaff, Arizona.

When we moved our two older children into the NAU dorms years ago, it was a huge chore carrying heavy arm fulls of stuff up and down the stairs.  This time?  Three of William’s friends who’d arrived the day before emptied our car of boxes in two trips and set everything up in such a cheery manner  (thanks Jeff, Chase, and Tyler).  The room is quite large, and I think Chase and William will be very comfortable there!  They have a great view from their windows of the grassy quad below, and the snow-covered mountains above.  Lucky boys, I’d give my right arm to be joining them.  Think of all the people they’ll meet, the things they’ll learn, the adventures they’ll have!!!

When we moved our two older children to the campus at NAU, it was super stressful. I feel like it was karma that this move went so well. We drove through torrential rain that stopped just as we arrived to unpack the car.  The rain started again as we worked in his dorm room, but as we headed to the book store, it stopped. Same happened at dinner time as we met William’s room mate’s parents for beer at Mother Road Brewery, moving on to Beaver Street restaurant for dinner, where we got primo parking spots in a town where parking can be so challenging.  What a fun night laughing with Lisa and Dan–not sure we could have gotten through that night without good friends to hang out with!!!

All week I had daydreamed about the trails we would hike once we had William settled, but the rain was torrential and thunder boomed on and off both Friday and Saturday.  My disappointment was huge that we did not get to revisit the lush, fern-filled fields of Viet Springs where we’d spent a magical afternoon last summer.

Because what I needed overall was a little bit of magic to heal my grieving heart. A little bit of “wow” that only nature can infuse into my soul.  But  . . . it didn’t happen. Instead, we drove home and hugged our pets and then Hubby sat at his computer catching up on work, and I cleaned the kitchen, bleached the microwave, and scraped the play dough off the bottoms of my favorite sandals  (my life is very glamorous).

As of today, I have raised my three children to adulthood.  What a weird feeling.  Hubby and I are trying to not be blue. But the house seems SUPER DUPER quiet without William and his friends here.  I’m not sure what to do with myself.

My oldest son’s girlfriend, Samantha, recently said to me these words (and I am holding them close to my heart):  “A secret:  Kids always need their parents.”  Crossed fingers that her words are true.



Saying a Proper Goodbye to 2015


Seriously, I can’t believe it’s already 2016.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I hate how quickly time passes.  The days of my life blow quickly by, just like in  old movies where the passage of time is depicted with calendar pages being blown into the wind.  Yep, that’s my life.

Now is the time where you would expect me to share my New Year’s resolutions for 2016. I’m keeping it simple by making the same resolution I’ve made for the past ten years: EAT MORE PIE. Pie is delicious and makes me happy. If it is a fruit pie (my favorite), then it’s a healthy choice. If it’s an apple pie, it will keep the doctor away (according to that old adage).

New Year’s resolutions are for amateurs.  Instead of making a stupid list of stuff everyone knows you’ll give up by mid-January, this is my proposition:  How about we  look back on the past year and make a list of what we’ve learned? If you are a sentient human being, you will no doubt have a) made mistakes b) made note to do things differently next time and c) likely did some cool stuff that you didn’t expect to do. Instead of examining our psyches and making a list of flaw with vows to make radical changes, how about look back at the A, B, and C (which I just listed). We can call them the Mistakes, Changes, and What Went Well.  And then (if you feel like it) you can add a list of things you are working on. We can call that list “Guilty Pleasures.”

Here’s some stuff I jotted down:


  • Decided working at Pier One would be fun (a ridiculous waste of time where I spent paycheck on pretty things).
  • Decided writing and self-publishing a book would be fun and profitable.
  • Chose to eat two lunches and two dinners each day and not exercise.


  • Worked hard to find a meaningful job (Yay, Awakening Seed School!).
  • Persisted while learning the very difficult computer program to publish my book about Mexico which nobody bought.
  • Chose to eat in a more healthful way and am still trying to lose the weight gained last year.

What Went Well This Year:

  • I found a job in a stimulating environment where I am able to use the skills unique to my person and which makes me very happy.
  • I self-published a book called Beach Dreams about my vacations in Rocky Point, Mexico. It has a beautiful photo on  the cover which I took myself, I’ve had great reviews from the very few people who have read it, and it is available on Amazon.
  • I’m enjoying my first year of owning a plot at the community garden where I’ve grown yummy veggies.
  • I have four pets who are entertaining and adorable.
  • My children are generally happy and nice to spend time with.
  • My writing hobby gives me pleasure (and saves me in therapist bills since I work it all out on the page.)
  • I’ve had many adventures in hiking with friends on new and different trails in the Phoenix area (Cacti, Coyotes, and Gila Monsters . . . Oh My!)
  • I’m extremely fortunate to have a nurturing group of friends and family who make me feel loved.

Guilty Pleasures (areas of improvement and notes to self):

  • Words with Friends is probably good for your brain . . . but probably not healthy if you play it two hours each day.
  • More novels—less Facebook.  Oh how I love looking at posts from friends!  The photos!  The sharing of adventures!  If it makes me happy, is it wrong?
  • Which leads me to this: Tequila is clearly not the answer . . . what was the question???
  • Reminder:  Food you eat whilst standing up in the classroom, or while driving in the car, or while prepping a meal REALLY DOES HAVE CALORIES. Don’t give up on your figure–you can be fit.
  • Stop expressing your love for certain bands and talking about music so much. People think it’s weird (even though it’s your passion–it’s okay to keep some stuff to yourself).
  • Stop being so preachy on your blog—people liked you better when you talked about recipes and art.

Wishing a Happy New Year to All, and remember for health and happiness,  eat more pie!



Best Day Ever


I’ve had oodles of time to relax during these two weeks of school holiday break. How fun to have time to read, sometimes in a traditional way with a novel in my hand, feet propped up on the couch, and sometimes in the modern way, sitting at the dining room table looking at my laptop. While googling the other day, this gem caught my eye:

It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all those things, but be calm in your heart.

And so it goes with me. Though around me loved ones are having struggles big and small, I am enjoying a particularly peaceful and joyful period of time in my life. Each night as I fall into bed, I smile thinking over the day and think, “Best day ever!”

It started on the last day of school. I was amazed at the gifts given to me from my students. I felt both loved and validated for the hard work we do in the classroom. That night I participated in my school’s Solstice Celebration. Our students sang and danced, and truly, everyone had huge smiles on their faces watching the extreme cuteness happening on stage. Best day ever!

The next day Hubby, William, and I spent the day happily listening to Christmas songs and preparing for our annual Christmas Cocktail Party. This is one of my favorite events of the year. Each year on the Saturday before Christmas, we invite our closest friends to our home where we have fun being silly, drinking cocktails (this year a cranberry champagne punch which I dubbed “Santa’s Rosy Cheeks”), followed by a boisterous white elephant gift exchange. Our last guests finally left at 1am, and as I tipsily crawled into bed, I smiled and said, “Best day ever!”

And so it went all week: Sunday afternoon at the movies seeing Star Wars with my family. Lunching and shopping in downtown Tempe with Lois and Tracy. Dinner out at a new place, Arizona Wilderness Brewery, with Vicki and Louis. Surviving Christmas Eve at my in-laws (ha). A hike with Sue Ellen on Christmas Eve morning, catching up on the details of my sweet friend’s life. A perfect Christmas Day with Patrick’s girlfriend, Samantha, and their new kitten, Iris, joining us for a long, fun day together. We played games, watched movies, enjoyed steaks and mashed potatoes . . . and for dessert, an English Trifle just like my Grandma Summers used to make.

In this post-Christmas time, Hubby and I have shopped, lunched, and twice hiked a new trail at South Mountain. We attended an all-day party at my brother and SIL’s house seeing old, dear friends, ending the night dancing to ’90s music in their living room. So many laughs and excellent eats including ribs, chili, and pulled pork. Today a hike with Gail. Another day Hubby and I spent hours at Phoenix Art Museum where we saw the new exhibit, The White Shirt. We ran into docent friends and had a blast checking out new and old artworks. Tonight we will dine with friends to celebrate Gwen’s birthday, and tomorrow night a visit with Fran and Dan to the Desert Botanical Garden to see Luminaria Night and the light installations by Bruce Monro. (Yes, we already went once, but it deserved a second look.) Each night I reflect back on the day and say, “Best day ever!”

I hope you, too, are finding peace during the holiday time and making for yourself some “best days.” Happy New Year to All!