Wednesday Hodgepodge

Bet you thought I forgot about trying this Hodgepodge thing.  Nope, here it is.  (And it was harder than I thought!)



1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your summer so far? Why?
(1=eh and 10=best summer ever)  

I would say an 8.  It has been good except I missed doing our mountain camping trip much more than I thought I would.  Swimming has been really good this summer.

2. July 26th is National Aunts and Uncles Day. Did you have many aunts and uncles growing up? Were you especially close to any one or maybe all of them? Are you an aunt? (or uncle for the men who join here on Wednesdays) Share a favorite memory relating to one of your own aunts or uncles or relating to a niece or nephew who call you Aunt (or Uncle).

Ten Aunts and Uncles total and we all lived in the same city but seldom saw each other, once or twice a year typically.  While we were never a close knit family I do remember my Uncle Bob playing tag with all us cousins at a playground and taking us on hikes during a one time multi-family camping trip.

3. What’s your favorite food dipped in chocolate? What’s your favorite food dipped in cheese?

Almonds or coconut dipped in dark chocolate.  Dipped in cheese?  Hmm, not sure I have one.

4. When were you last astonished by something? Explain.

I fished a dead mouse out of the pool Monday morning and not only did I not blink an eye,  I didn’t think twice about getting in the pool right after for a swim. I am terrified of live mice, but apparently okay with drowned ones.

5. Surf board, paddle board, ironing board, Pinterest board, score board, clip board, bulletin board…which board have you most recently encountered?

Ironing board, when I made some more progress on my first attempt at quilting. I am making a  dresser scarf.  “All” I have left to do is the binding!  I am hoping to start work on the binding when school starts again in a few weeks.

6. What’s your favorite story from scripture? Why that story?

Luke 2:8-18   A baby, angels, shepherds, peace on Earth, what more could one want?

7. If you were to travel from the east coast to the west coast in your own country, which five cities would you most want to see?

I would take route fifty from Ocean City, Md  all the way to Sacramento, Ca and enjoy every little town along the way.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

It is too hot for thinking today.  I’ll stick with iced tea and a good book inside the air-conditioning. Just starting “Everyone Brave is Forgiven” by Chris Cleave. I loved his novel “Gold” and found “Incendiary” disturbing to read but not in a really bad way, more in a this story could be all  too real kind of way.

Here is the link to the Hodgepodge lady!


Four Days of One’s Own

Redwood trees in California

An unexpected gift – spouse and small child off to visit the Grandparents. I stay home to save money, keep the pool from turning green and spare the dog the ordeal of being abandoned for the second time this summer. And to give myself a chance to think, breath, drown in quietness.

Thoughts before:

Four full days and two partial ones to do as I please. And what would please me?  Gorge on junk food and movies?  Lots of sleeping?  Spend all day floating around the pool?  Read books all day with a box of chocolates by my side?  All of the above!

Did I want to make a plan to use every blissfully all mine moment?  Or did I just want to wake up and see how the day unfolded? I decided to make a loose plan for three of the days and let one day be spontaneous.  I wouldn’t pick which day but just let it find me.

My planned days had me doing stuff on the computer and getting my 10k steps done in the morning.  Lunch would be my main meal and after cleaning up I would watch a movie.  Then putter around or read a bit before taking a swim somewhere around 5:00p.  (Still very warm out but avoiding the brutal desert sun.)   Next would be a salad for dinner and dessert.  After that reading or watching television.

The Reality: 

The first two days pretty much followed the plan.  Saturday and Sunday went unplanned.  The break as a whole was fabulous.  I seldom left the house and I drank in the peace and quiet.  I will try and summarize how things went.

Things that surprised me:

  1. How little interest I had in cooking.
  2. Finding a dead mouse in the pool one morning and a live scorpion in the dog’s food bowl one evening. (Such is life in the desert.)
  3. Taking two naps.
  4. How little time I spent in my office.  I spent much more time in my bedroom watching movies on my computer, reading, journaling and thinking.  And taking those two naps.
  5. Starting to do yoga again, rather out of the blue and completely unplanned.
  6. Learning I wake up at 6:30a on my own.
  7. I not only swam everyday, but at different times of day.
  8. How poorly I am coping with the heat these days.  It was over 100° F every day and I hated it. Especially two very windy days.  Hot breezes are not good.

What I ate:

Mostly leftovers or eggs.  I did indulge in a few chocolates (okay most of a medium sized box), ice cream for dinner one night, and one fast food meal (Chick-fil-a).  In the interest of full disclosure I also ate two donuts that I “accidently” grabbed when I stopped for milk after church.  A Boston creme and a chocolate iced cake donut and they were yummy!

Movies I watched:

  1. “Rebecca”
  2. “The Shipping News”
  3. “A Perfect Murder”
  4. “The Guns of Navarro”
  5. “Twenty-One Days”
  6. “Housewife, 49”
  7. And some Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel

Books I read:

  1. “The Union Quilters” by Jennifer Chiaverini
  2. “The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen” by Lindsay Ashford
  3. “Magical Journey” by Katrina Kenison
  4. “A Year By the Sea” by Joan Anderson

I also read a bunch of articles on the internet about coping with menopause, specifically when you have younger children.  My longing for quiet and stillness is perfectly normal at this stage of my life.  Many women feel the need to take a bit of a time out and evaluate their present and their future when they hit fifty or thereabouts.  But most women’s children at my age are out of the nest or soon will be.  I am looking at ten more years of full time mothering.  I need to find a way to balance my needs with the demands of parenting a young child.

Basically all the articles said the same thing about coping with menopause, you have to take care of yourself.  Reduce stress and you minimize the menopausal meltdowns. I was already learning that.  Life was on a more even keel since I started giving myself a bit of quiet time each morning.  Maybe I could do a bit more to take care of myself?

New priorities I made based on what I learned and dreamed about:

  1. Do yoga or meditate every day.  Even if I only meditate for five minutes.
  2. Take time to stop throughout the day and repeat my mantra. (It is sort of silly so I am not sharing it.  Unless you really want to know and then just ask.)
  3. It is okay to stop and ask what I really want to do at any particular moment, and then do it.
  4. Continue on with my good habits of 10k steps, quiet time and getting to bed early.
  5. After a bit of experimenting I have decided food is not at the base of all my ailments.  But I still want to eat healthy, simple meals avoiding as much processed junk as I have the willpower for.
  6. Be more mindful with everything I do.  Folding laundry, cooking dinner, taking a swim.  Stay in the moment as much as possible.  I am so tired of worrying about the future or reflecting on poor choices made in the past.  I need to learn to simply be here.
  7. I really wanted to be outside but not in the crazy heat.  I have promised myself a day up in the mountains once the weather breaks.  So probably not til late September but it is nice to make a promise to myself.

Some of these tasks are going to be very hard and some will get dropped before they barely get started.  But some will stick, maybe not exactly as how I imagined them but hopefully exactly as I need them.



Cabin Fever



Taken in the White Mountains in July 2014. (Or maybe 2013?)

Here in the desert late July is the equivalent of late February in parts on the country that have all four seasons. While I technically leave the house every day (to swim and walk the dog) I am not enjoying being outdoors much. I have the desert version of cabin fever.

We have moved our swimming to early evening for as long as the monsoons allow. At 5:00p it is still 100° but the sun is sinking, the rays at a less harsh angle. And so I swim for an hour and then sit under the patio for 5 to 10 minutes to dry off before the heat once again sends me inside. That and the need to make some sort of dinner.

The afternoons drag long and hot.  Now I truly understand the concept of the siesta!

My son and I have done some of our summer outings, but only the ones that involve being indoors. We spent one afternoon at Lowe’s, my son picking out light fixtures, appliances and faucets for his dream home. We have been to the used book store and several programs at the library.  Next week we will paint ceramics on base.

I miss our usual July camping trip in the mountains for a week. I long to be outside under a cool canopy of trees listening to the babble of a creek.  I miss simply being outside and not sweating. My evenings on the “front porch swing” are on hiatus for the moment.  For me it is harder to stay indoors during the summer than it ever was during my Northern winters.

Today we are mixing things up a bit by heading to Phoenix.  We will go to the really good used clothing store for kids and then to a baseball game.  Inside. Yes, the Arizona Diamondbacks play indoors, sort of.  They have the option of closing the stadium  all up and turning the a/c on.  Or they can open the roof and/or giant windows.  It is extremely odd to me to watch baseball in an air-conditioned building.  While understandable it still feels wrong, like the game has been twisted into something too comfortable and it no longer feels like real baseball.

Soon the afternoon rains (or at least rumbles of thunder) will start and our routines will change again.  Storminess will be a welcome change , though no help in getting outdoors more.  If anything it makes getting a swim in more difficult.  But it is easier somehow to be inside reading a book or watching an old movie with rain and wind lashing about. Being inside during a storm makes sense in a way that being inside during a sunny summer afternoon doesn’t.

Here are pictures of the sky as I write this Monday afternoon about 3:00p:


The sun pours down from a bowl of blue completely ringed by storm clouds.



To the North and the Catalina Mountains.


To the South.



To the West.


To the East.

The wind is picking up and the distant rumbles of thunder are getting closer.  Rain is falling in the mountains.

Happy July Thunderstorms!

2016 Clean up Plan Update


Random photo from the month I am currently purging. I have always liked this shot.

I thought about the Wednesday HodgePodge Post but frankly the questions this week didn’t interest me very much. Maybe next week.

Instead a quick update on my goals progress.  This year I made a list of twelve areas to clean and so far I have been cruising right along.  I have four items left:  clean out file cabinet and shred again, and purge my digital photos and figure out a back up storage option (most likely on-line).

I have four years of photos on my computer, over 4700 photos!  That is a lot of photos and the task felt quite overwhelming when I started.  Oddly enough now it is one of my favorite parts of the day.  Each day I set the timer for ten minutes and start purging.  Sometimes it is easy, a photo is blurry or just not a good shot. Or it is a photo I took for a blog post or Facebook and no longer need.  Often I take a few shots of the same thing and now I have to figure out which one I like best.  Or on a few occasions I have a series of photos of my son making weird faces.  Hmm.  I just go with my instincts and if I am hesitant I keep it, at least for now.


I love this shot  of  the elephants at the Reid Park Zoo with a C-130 from the military base above them.

I am curious to see how many photos I end up with when I am done with the purge. It is slow going but I don’t mind, I get to take a trip down memory lane each day!  And I know once school starts in mid-August I can increase my time for the project, hopefully to twenty or thirty minutes most days.

I have decided I also need to organize all these photos somehow.  I am thinking of adding some key words and sorting them into different albums.  Maybe all the camping photos in one, Christmas in another etc.  We’ll see how long the initial purge takes first.  I mean, it would be terrible if I did not get to clean out the file cabinet this year! 🙂


It is terribly hot here these days so I thought one last picture to cool things off.  This was taken at the Grand Canyon,  April 2013 over “Spring Break”. 

Joy List

Catalina Mountains as seen from my new swing, aka my pretend front porch 🙂 .

Because of the looong holiday weekend I missed Wednesday HodgePodge. I will try again next week. And yes, I still have two Chicago posts to write. But not today. It is July and I am on vacation, sort of.
So instead, here is a list of what is bringing me joy these days:

Swimming – Like when I was kid.  I leisurely swim up and down the length of the pool luxuriating in the feel of the water and the movement of my body.  I don’t count laps or minutes, I just swim.

“Rogue Wave” – This is a game my son and I invented.  He floats around the pool in an inner tube pretending to take notes and make marine observations.  And then I, the “rogue wave”, “sneak up” and flip him over.  He loves this and making him happy makes me happy.  Plus it is a good arm workout.

Tuna fish sandwiches –  Yup, when I meal planned for the week I actually put sandwiches on the list for dinner. No guilt because I bought a loaf of the good rye bread.

The Hours Count” – By Jillian Cantor is the novel I am currently reading.  I love books that are fact based fiction.  I get to learn something and be entertained at the same time.

Sleeping – I have been sleeping great lately.  I think it is all the swimming plus getting in my 10k steps most some days.  (Well, I was doing really good before the holiday weekend and I am walking as I write this.)

Mother’s Day Swing –  I have been wanting a swing like this for a few years and this year I got one.  I LOVE this swing and even with the summer heat I use it most days.  I like to sit outside around sunset.  It is still hot, but bearable without the sun and if there is a breeze it can be quite pleasant. My son and I often sit there and read a chapter or two from our bedtime book.  I am finding this swing is a suitable substitute for a front porch (for now).


I love my new front porch substitute!


Lovin’ my Catalina Mountains and green grass view from my “front porch”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Hope you are experiencing some July Joy!


The clouds from last week, now gone!


I haven’t felt much like blogging lately or even being on the computer at all. It is summer vacation and while it is not really a vacation for me I have decided I want it to feel like it is. My son and I need a rhythm to our days but not necessarily a written in stone routine.

Each weekend I make a suggested plan for the upcoming week in my bullet journal.    But I am free to ignore the plan if we find something more interesting or fun to do.  I have found if my son has too much free time he gets bored and all he does is watch tv or videos.  Too much planned time and he gets frustrated at not having time on his own. I think we are figuring out a balance of free time and planned activities.

I am also making my own goals and schedule more flexible for this month.  I need to.  I want to enjoy this time with my son.  He is growing up and our relationship is changing, as it should.  So I need to remain mindful that next summer will be completely different from this summer and enjoy our time together now.

This will be a short week for us with the 4th of July weekend spilling into the 5th for us.  Here is the plan for our three day week:

For learning time:

Drawing floor plans of our dream houses.  We are going to use 1″ = 1′ so he will get some math and measuring practice figuring out square footage etc.

I am going to attempt to teach him cursive writing since he will not learn that in school.  (They didn’t even teach him how to print properly.) He can already write his name in cursive and this week we will use a booklet I got at the Dollar store to start on the rest of the letters.

I am going to have him pick a famous person, do a little research and write down five facts. This will work handwriting, spelling and how to use the computer and possibly the library for research.

Our field trip this week will be a one hour program on art at the library geared for children. Since we are having such a busy 4th of July weekend I wanted to keep the running around to a minimum.

The rain has cleared out so we should be swimming all week and we’ll have to see what cleaning pops up.  Still hoping he voluntarily cleans up his room. Ha!

I am also thinking for the month of July instead of writing my regular posts I will try out the Wednesday HodgePodge.  I have seen it on a few other blogs and think this is an excellent opportunity to give it a try. Or not 🙂 .


Flying our new flag on the 4th of July.

Happy Summer everyone!!