Tag Archives: sunsets



I am in Mexico.

Yesterday I told you about what a perfect weekend we’re having here in Puerto Penasco, and I also shared that we are co-habitating with a roach the size of a Buick.  Last night, our paths crossed again (cue horror movie music).

Let me begin this story by telling you that we almost didn’t make it out for dinner because I was so enraptured by the sunset. Clouds in the sky over the ocean = fantastic sunset.  (No clouds?  Eh, the sun goes into the ocean, blah blah, it’s fine.)  But last night’s sky looked as if it were on FIRE with pinks and oranges and reds all striped over each other, and every minute it changed, and then it got darker and then there were hues of purple and even the shape of it changed.  I tore myself away from the first part to smooth my hair and apply some mascara, and on the drive up Whale Hill to the restaurant, I just kept ooohing and aaaahing because it was seriously A Moment of Extreme Beauty which I will always remember.  The restaurant was full; we drove down to the malecon and I snapped a beautiful photo of the brilliant sky over the parking lot next to Flavio’s.  I know that doesn’t sound exactly “delightful” but I was really happy with the juxtaposition of this amazing effect of nature over a dusty parking lot full of old cars—the light and shadows were so cool.

We had a terrible dinner at Mary’s Seafood.  Almost inedible.  I gave them a brutal yelp review, which was well deserved. Thumbs up for a fantastic margarita and good service though!

We arrived back home, turned on the kitchen lights and EEEEEEKK!!!!! Buick the Roach was sniffing at a small spot of bacon grease on the stove top.  My mind did this amazing analysis of the situation, sort of like what Sherlock Holmes does in the recent Guy Ritchie movies.  Everything slowed down.  I considered attempting to pull a spatula from the jar of utensils which was situated BEHIND the roach and that scenario played out with the roach running away.  I surveyed the kitchen island to my right and saw nothing useful in killing/stunning a roach.  So I picked up the heavy ceramic spoon rest and SMASH!  With the agility one would expect from a person who has just consumed a plate of heavy fried seafood and a margarita as big as her head, I hit Buick with that spoon rest, screaming out a warrior’s cry, “HIYA!!!”  And much to Hubby’s and my chagrin, the spoon rest broke in two and Buick ran back into the hole behind the cupboards, laughing and calling me nasty names in Spanish (words that cannot, dear Reader, be repeated here).

The spoon rest was placed in the trashcan after a brief discussion about trying to glue it back together and rapidly coming to the conclusion that spoon rests are completely unnecessary objects and whoever invented them should be ashamed of themselves.   We hope the condo co-owner who buys these silly decorative items will not miss the Very Important Spoon Rest.

During all of this excitement, we noticed the windows whistling.  We slid open the glass door to the beach, and HOLY MOSES, the wind was INTENSE.  Amazing might be the better word.  All outside condo lights were off, but the moon was shining so brightly that the entire beach was illuminated.  I stepped off the patio onto the sand and instinctively spread my arms out to feel the strong, warm wind.  It buffeted my entire body—that’s how powerful it was.  Hubby came out and put his arms out, too.  From nine til midnight I sat outside in the wind, listening to music on my headphones and occasionally following the path made by the moon down to the high tide, rolling up my pant legs to wade into the warm ocean.  It was simply glorious. If anyone was watching from their patio, they probably were concerned for this middle-aged, clearly-deranged woman who kept walking down the beach to visit the night ocean.

The only bad news from the weekend (apart from Buick escaping) is that all attempts at protecting my face from sunburn failed.  I’m as pink as a pig, which is bad enough on its own but also typically results in a big nose pimple.  That should be popping up on Thursday morning as I head to work (I am subbing at my year-round school later this week).  I swear to you I applied sunscreen and wore a hat and stayed mostly in the shade.  It honestly feels quite lovely to be in my fifties and not really care what people think anymore.

I will end by telling you about the book I’m reading and cannot put down.  Through Painted Deserts:  Light, God, and  Beauty on the Open Road is written by a modern-day philosopher and all-around-super-smart guy named Donald Miller.  His writing is beautiful and honest and thought provoking–I am smitten. I watched a recent interview where he caught a lot of grief by saying he doesn’t really feel God when he’s at church.  Though he is Christian (and my beliefs are a bit of this and a bit of that) I found him simply charming and relevant to my world view.  Here is a passage from the book which resonated with me today:

“It’s interesting how you sometimes have to leave home before you can ask difficult questions, how the questions never come up in the room you grew up in, in the town in which you were born.  It’s funny how you can’t ask difficult questions in a familiar place, how you have to stand back a few feet and see things in a new way before you realize nothing that is happening to you is normal.”

I find this to be 100% true, which is why I love to travel.  Getting away gives my mind space to question, space to forgive myself for not leading the perfect life, and space to imagine.  As much as I love getting away, I love returning home with the hopes of trying to be just a little bit better/different/happier.




Skeeter Hawks


Summer has come early to our town in the desert.  We’re ten degrees over the norm, which means temps in the 90s.  Ugh. When you live in a place where it’s pretty much unbearable to be outdoors for six months of the year, this early summer is terrible news. We’re sadly pulling from our gardens lettuces that have too quickly gone to seed, spinach that has turned bitter, and every day I’m picking nasturtium bouquets to leave at friends’ doors because the high temps makes them crumpled and brown and I don’t want them to go to waste.  We’re also experiencing an invasion of “skeeter hawks” which, though harmless, float about the bright lights in the kitchen and whip our house cats into a frenzy.  I find their long legs and slow flight graceful in a weird sort of way.

I’ve had two stressful weeks trying to clean up our rental house near ASU where our daughter lives with two friends. (I wrote angry posts about this, but deleted them.)  For the past few years, we’ve been busy with our own lives and also cognizant of giving the kids their space, so the list of stuff that needs cleaning and fixing over there is long.  Hubby would say to me on a Sunday morning, “I think I’ll go over to Eve’s and do some work,” and I would say, “I’m sure they are sleeping in and do not want you there.”  So the place is a mess.  We crunched the numbers and (hip hip hooray) have decided to sell this sweet house built in 1952.  After the tenants leave in late April, we likely have a month’s worth of work to do.  I hope someone will be thrilled to have this charming little house so close to campus.  Our family has sentimental attachments to this house which we’ve owned for seven years, but our goal is to make sure we sell to someone who will love it as much as we have. (The only thing I absolutely hate about the house is bright red, plastic-fronted kitchen cabinets from IKEA, which were installed by the architect who owned the place before we did.)

About four weeks ago, I told you the house next door would be going up for sale due to divorce.  I hesitate to talk it up too much to anyone I know because we may not be the best neighbors.  Hubby’s method of relaxing after a long day of work is to watch tv; mine is to dance or sing to music in the backyard.  I swear I never play music very loudly, but hay fever has adjusted my voice to a definitely nasal tone.  Add in the bouts of sneezing that can last up to 15 minutes, which sometimes causes Ruby the Wonder Spaniel to bark incessantly, and Cosmo our Elderly Siamese to yowl.  In the big picture, I firmly believe dancing in the back yard is better than taking a daily mood-enhancing pill, something I’ve never done.  Plus the dancing is good exercise.

Excuse me for a moment.  I must go look at the sunset.


Oh my word–that was amazing.  The clouds looked like a long swath of fuzzy pink cotton candy . . . and then the colors deepened and it looked more like a scarlet wool blanket. Now I can see thought the front window that it is violet/gray overhead, with scarlet down at the horizon.  Well done, Mother Nature. Well done.

Life is strange.  For the first time in many years, I find myself with too much free time.  I thought of the word “tumbling” the other day, and it’s an appropriate word to describe my days in which I find myself wandering from room to room, finding something to clean or put away, then responding to my phone or emails, then tumbling upstairs for laundry, then tumbling outside to run an errand or two.  For awhile I had friends lined up to walk with most days, but lately people have been busy with Spring Break vacations, and I feel a bit neglected.  I use the word tumbling because I feel a profound sense of being off-center, with maybe a bit of dizziness;  a definite blurriness of focus.  Close your eyes and remember being a child doing a somersault.  Yes, that’s it.  Tumbling.

I’ve been reading too much (most recently Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, then Vivan Howard’s ten-pound tribute to her hometown in NC with lots of recipes, Deep Run Roots), and watching too much tv (Rectify‘s amazing latest season on Netflix, and rewatching for the millionth time the first few seasons of Gilmore Girls), and cooking too much (I made this carrot cake recipe in muffin form for breakfast and for dinner, and we enjoyed the Creamy Mustard Chicken recipe from the New  York Times, which I can’t access now because I’ve used up my freebies for the month.).

Yesterday I spent the day with my brother and sister-in-law.  They are good listeners, but Paul always says, “Mary, you need more stimulation than anyone I’ve ever met.” I know I’m not good at being alone.  I know I’m a bit spastic.  I’m trying so hard to relax into early retirement or a break from working–whatever we want to call it–to find peace in the quiet of my world.  Now that I think about it, I’m much like those early summer skeeter hawks, floating about without much purpose, simply enjoying family, books, garden, pets, and the fabulous desert sunsets.



Fly in My Nose


I am in Mexico.

There is a very small fly in my nose. More precisely, I’m quite certain the fly who flew into my nose a few minutes ago is now flying about in my nasal passage. I wonder how long he can survive in there? I mean, obviously, there’s air in there. Will he journey to my lungs? Will he fly out of my mouth at dinner?

I’m thinking these brilliant (ha) thoughts while gazing at the ocean. There’s always so much to see: Hubby and Ruby the Wonder Spaniel swimming just a few feet from shore. Large jumping fish. So many pelicans flying over head, and a long line of dolphins swimming by. The small brown terns pecking at the tide line. A green crab the size of my fist who gave me a small pinch when I stepped on him, then skittered away. And the beautiful diamonds of sunshine shimmering on the ocean’s surface. Small red-legged hermit crabs busily doing their work in the shallow puddles, and the sea eagle hunting for lunch.

We have been here less than 24 hours and already so much has happened. We took a long walk and met so many beach neighbors. Especially funny were three tipsy retired teachers who, when they the found out I worked in a classroom, had so much to tell me. They said many nice things about my school, and when I told the retired middle- school music teacher that all three of our children had been in marching band, she gave me a huge hug. Ruby has a new friend named Molly, a waggy-tailed Welsh Springer Spaniel from Tucson, and of course, it was nice catch up with some folks we see here quite regularly.

We swam in the calm, warm ocean, then took tons of photos of the colorful, constantly-changing sunset. We opened fresh beers and watched the afterglow for an hour before heading to town for dinner. The town was hopping, and we had a delicious fish dinner at Senior Amigos overlooking the ocean. Then we walked all the way to the end of the malecon, weaving in and out of the vendor carts selling cotton candy, flavored crushed ice, helados, and all manner of trinkets. Local families congregated happily together, enjoying the cool ocean breezes on this October evening. So many different musicians wandered through the crowd, their songs drowning each other out. Several bandas with large, dented tubas blatted out flat notes, while strolling guitarists sang off key. So much NOISE! “How is it one city can be so devoid of any musical talent?” I asked Hubby. This has always been true, but I’m assuming it’s a lack of music education in this fiscally deprived town. Most of them, literally, have probably never had one lesson.

I am in love with this weekend. I am in love with this beach. Everyone is where they are supposed to be . . . with all three of our kids accounted for and having a happy weekend. Hubby and I are so enjoying having quiet time together swimming, reading, and doing crossword puzzles. The beach is perfect with polite neighbors and all manner of happy pups trotting along, stopping to sniff the line of shells and seaweed at the ocean’s edge. Today, I truly feel like the luckiest girl in the world.


The S.S. Minnow


Some of you know that I’ve been working on a book of travel tips and essays about my favorite beach in Rocky Point, Mexico.  The “words” part is easy and fun; it’s the formatting and logistics of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing that are pure torture and are causing me to pull my hair out.  I do not like to read instructions, yet that is all I’ve done over the past few weeks.  I’ve had to be very brave.

Here is a sneak preview from the Things to Do section of my book. I’ve had so much fun looking back at all the adventures I’ve had in my favorite beach town, and am supremely confident that I will meet my goal of selling 20 copies of my E-book, since that is the number of friends and family members who have promised me they would do so.

Here is my chapter on Boating (sent out to various friends for editing prior to publishing):


For years we were landlubbers, never venturing out on the sea. We were constantly IN the sea. Even when the water was only lukewarm, we’d spend all day swimming in the waves, or lolling at the ocean’s edge in warm tide pools. Some days we’d get a bit ambitious and take out the kayak. But it never, ever occurred to us to actually get out on the water!

While swimming at our beach one day, we watched a small motorboat go by. One of my children asked, “Mom, why don’t we ever go on a boat ride?” Hmmmm, I mulled. Why don’t we?

That’s all it took. We scoured our copy of the local newspaper, The Rocky Point Times and found a short list of boat rental businesses. We visited the small office in town (this was before internet connections and cell phones!), and arranged a private excursion for the next morning at 8am leaving from the conveniently located boat harbor.

What can I say—it was magical. In the early morning, there was a bit of chill in the air, and a thin blanket of fog lay over the smooth surface of the water. All was quiet excepting the quite hum of the boat motor and the sound of our voices. The motorboat was captained by a local man who spoke enough English to efficiently point out sea life as we passed it. We saw dolphins, lots of leaping fish, and our first wild sea lions! The cost was very reasonable and well worth the sense of adventure we felt at trying something new in this place we’d visited for decades.

Buoyed by our successful first boat trip, we decided to “go big” for our next excursion. With my aunt and sister in tow, we booked a Sunset Cruise. The tickets were a bit pricier than for our morning motorboat excursion, however, the fee included all the pop or margaritas one could drink. The small boat held a maximum capacity of 20 passengers, which seemed reasonable for our small group with children. We’d seen the huge sunset party boats, but had a feeling they were perhaps not “family friendly.”

Sunset in Rocky Point is always a treat; sunset in Rocky Point seen whilst floating on a vessel on the water is simply enchanting. While out on the sea, the sun looks so close you feel you could touch it. Watch it slip into the ocean, and it feels like it’s just a few feet out of arm’s reach! The surface of the water reflects yellow, then brilliant orange, pink, rose, and finally purple, mirroring the colors in the clouds. You feel as if you’ve been an active participant in this miraculous feat of nature. Now that the sun has set, the sky and ocean glow all around you. Inside, you feel the glow as well (because you have been drinking margaritas).

On a practical note, I would advise NOT to book your boat ride too far ahead. After four successful Sunset Cruise adventures, it became a part of our vacation tradition. I have no idea why, as we sat on the beach that afternoon admiring the huge, white capped waves, it did not occur to any of us that perhaps it was not good boating weather.

We arrived at the appointed time of 4:30pm and were greeted by our now-familiar crew. We departed as always (the children donning the required life jackets, which are also available to any adults who want them) and soon were headed out of the harbor. It was then we realized our mistake. The waves pitched our small vessel so much I felt like we were on the S.S. Minnow. Patrick and I clung to our seats for dear life. Hubby, Eve, and William tossed about atop in the small crow’s nest. I was certain we would soon be meeting our maker.

Hubby smiled down from the crow’s nest reassuringly, and the kids aloft shouted with excitement. “Get down here!” I shouted with all my might, my words lost in the wind and waves. Those of us on the main deck clutched our stomachs. It was only through sheer willpower that neither Patrick, nor I, lost our lunches. A brave young man (who appeared to be on a first date) was bravely able to hold his vomit until the boat finally returned to harbor, then neatly emptyied his stomach over the rail, much to the chagrin of his bikinied girlfriend who seemed immune to sea sickness. Why the crew took us out on such a choppy sea I’ll never know, but I assume they wanted the money from us dumb gringos, and I still consider it one of the great miracles of my life that we all lived through that excruciating 90 minutes.

One must always remember when traveling that we are lucky when things go according to plan, but it is when we encounter the slight bumps in the road (or huge waves on the sea) that we end up with the best stories.