Photo Friday: Outdoors

Yup, still in the 90’s here but that is not keeping me from pretending it feels like autumn. Last week I escaped up the mountain and found some cool air!

The clouds were flying across the sky.
The mix of clouds and sun lent to the autumnal feel.
My view while enjoying a picnic lunch.

This week we headed to Willcox, AZ to do the corn maze and pick pumpkins and apples. The sun was pretty warm but the air felt cool and there was a breeze making it feel quite lovely in the shade.

Apples but no leaves, how weird is that?
Now that it is October how about a “spooky” flowers photo?

Keep your focus!

Creating Autumn

It’s finally, officially, autumn. My season. Ahhh. In September I typically feel a sense of relief of having survived another desert summer. But let me start this by saying we are still having days in the high 90’s here. So I am not sure I can say with certainty that I have survived it yet!

I changed up the kitchen sink window this year, bought new “curtains” (two napkins and towel), used a different garland and added a little bird. Makes me very happy.

I am doing my best to be excited about creating my own version of fall. I hung nine, yes nine, leaf garlands around the house. It looked like autumn outside (even if it was 92° during the day) as beautiful blue-gray clouds built to the south and moved north to the mountains. We had a marvelous storm while I decided where to put a few strings of orange lights. Thunder, heavy rain, wind and small hail. A dark and stormy afternoon, perfect for autumn decorating!

I have switched over to my “autumn” wardrobe: summer weight but in fall colors. As I write I am wearing oatmeal colored linen capris with a heather pine green (or is it forest green?) 3/4 sleeve shirt. I wear lots of orange and burgundy and browns. I bought two new “Life is Good” t-shirts with autumn themes. They are both short sleeve and oddly, dark blue. I also bought two long-sleeve shirts (one beige and one purple), of which I wore the beige “Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice) to the movies on Friday. (I figured correctly it would be cold enough inside the mall for long sleeves.)

Something else I have been doing is searching for books set in autumn. I found this website and requested a few books from the library. Mentally I will be amidst colorful leaves, brisk breezes and sweaters.

On the eating front we are not ready for soups, stews and chili but I am making pumpkin-cheesecake muffins for bowling tomorrow. And we are starting to eat more pork and turkey (cutlets and tenderloins, not roasting whole turkeys, that would be crazy in this heat!) and the first batch of homemade applesauce from the freezer. I have found adding a few dried cranberries to salad, granola, a baked yam or pretty much anything “autumns it up”. 🙂

We have our trip to the corn maze/pumpkin patch and more apple picking scheduled. My son has the last Monday in September off from school so my husband took it off from work too. We like to go when it is less crowded and in the past we have found weekends in October to be rather nuts.

We also have our camping trip planned for mid-October, I can’t wait. We will definitely be taking chili and soup on the trip. Even if the days are warm the nights should still be cool up at 7000′.

I am still walking on the treadmill most days (like right now while I type) but more often I watch Youtube videos of autumn walks. I turn my high velocity fan on creating an autumnal breeze and keep myself cool at the same time.

I have been enjoying making this banner for fall:

Sorry it didn’t photograph so great.

And taking my list from this post and making it into a pretty bucket list:

One last project. I decided to participate in the Brooklyn Art Library Pen Pal Painting Exchange. I love it because really no talent is required 🙂 . Here is my 4 x 4 painting:

I wish now I had only done one leaf outline. Live and learn.

So there you have it, how to create autumn in the desert 101. I think I’ll go have some cranberry juice in my new mug.

HAPPY FALL Y’ALL!

Good Things Thursday: Autumn

If one can be homesick for a season then I am homesick for autumn. I know it isn’t “officially” here yet but I even miss the anticipation of fall. There is little for me to love about living here in the desert southwest but this is by far the worst time of the year for me. In the next week or so I’ll break out my leaf garlands and pumpkin decorations and do my best to create autumn inside my home.

But I can’t change the triple digit heat outside. I can’t make it really feel like autumn. I can’t create that crisp, fragrant air or conjure up a maple tree with flaming red leaves outside my window. I can’t wear long sleeves. And that makes me sad.

So today I am going to create autumn in my head and heart. This is a spontaneously generated list of all the things I love about autumn:

  1. chilly air
  2. the low angle of the sun
  3. watching football
  4. pumpkin chili
  5. chocolate chip pumpkin muffins
  6. colorful leaves
  7. the sound of the breeze in the trees
  8. hot tea on a cold morning
  9. the smell of apples and cinnamon
  10. picking apples
  11. meandering in a corn maze
  12. making pies and applesauce
  13. candles flickering in drafts
  14. apple cider
  15. wearing long sleeves
  16. cardigan sweaters
  17. cold, gray, rainy days
  18. tomato soup and grilled cheese
  19. that special shade of blue the sky is in October
  20. reading a good book under an afghan
  21. Movies set in autumn (like “Step-Mom” and “You’ve Got Mail” and “Hocus Pocus”)
  22. Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday!)

Looking at the list I realize I can actually experience most of these. And I bought two new short sleeve autumn themed shirts from Life is Good so I can wear “autumn” shirts. I have a camping trip planned in October which should give me a taste of cool air, colorful leaves and the joy of evening campfires and hot tea in the morning. Not a perfect solution but better than nothing.

Did I need this mug? No. But I bought it anyway. For now I am drinking iced tea out of it.

Just like that I feel better. 😊

Photo Friday: Rose Canyon Lake

The heat here has been sickening, we are still hitting triple digits and it’s been rather humid with rain many afternoons. I promised myself I would find a day to take a picnic up the mountain and spend some time in a cooler climate. (I am increasingly homesick for autumn, seems to get worse every year.)

So yesterday I headed up to Rose Canyon Lake. It took until 5000′ to get below 90°. The lake is around 7000′ and the temperature was a pleasant 77°. It was a little warm in the sun but the area is well treed so there was plenty of shade.

I wanted to take some different photos. I need to learn how to be more unique with my compositions. I fear I have a long way to go. I really want a macro lens and try some abstract stuff.

From the South end of the lake looking North.
The South end.
A dam on the South end, I walked across it and am happy I didn’t fall off!
Saw this interesting bit on the dry end of the North side.
Pinecones mean autumn!
I took more pictures of rocks on the drive home. This looks medieval to me!

Keep Your Focus!

Big Change

I started working for the first time in twelve years. Seems there should be a blog post in there somewhere but the truth is I am too tired to write coherent sentences. The problem isn’t the job itself and I am only working part-time, between 20 and 25 hours a week. All my work is done outside. (I walk around with a computer verifying addresses for the upcoming census.) The issue? The weather. Yes, the weather. The heat and the sun have been ferocious. When I get home from working I take a long, cool shower and begin rehydrating to set myself up for the next day. Then I have to get my son from school (back out in the heat, ugh) and attempt to stay awake at least until dark.

I already find myself looking at the calendar and wishing for the end. This job is supposed to last a max of eight weeks. I am really hoping we finish early. I think about quitting as there is no end in sight for the heat, but I am not a quitter.

Instead I am working hard on staying in the moment, focusing on one day at a time. Anything is bearable for one day. Despite the forecast I can always hope for at least some clouds tomorrow. I am probably one of the few people wishing for a cloudy day! Please, feel free to send your clouds my way, they will be appreciated.

A rainbow in the clouds would be a nice bonus.

Flash Fiction: A Sweet Jam

I almost skipped this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch. I had no ideas, zip, zero. My brain was empty.

I completed my training and officially started work this week. I think I made a mistake. The work is easy enough and I actually like all the walking, but the heat is killing me. I am re-thinking my hours and promised myself to stick it out to the end of the week. It is supposed to cool down Friday and Saturday and I’ll see if it is enough to make it bearable. And if it is still too hot for me I will resign.

So I found myself thinking a lot about weather and finally figured out an idea for the prompt.

“Hello Spring”

Sophia walked into the kitchen and wondered where spring was.  Fat snowflakes swirled outside the window, carpeting the grass and mounding on empty flowerpots. 

“This would be pretty if it was December,” Sophia told Mother Nature, “but here in May you are just being cruel.”

She put the kettle on and popped an English muffin into the toaster.  “Guess I’ll just have to make my own spring,” she said, moving a vase of tulips to the table.  She opened her last jar of homemade strawberry jam and breathed in the sweet berry scent.  “Take that Mother Nature,” she crowed.

February 2019

I could go for some snow right now!

Old-Fashioned Family Outings

For the first week after my surgery I was housebound. Between the weather (triple digit heat and humidity), not being able to drive and how tired I felt, not leaving the house wasn’t a big deal. By the end of the week though I was bored and antsy and decided it was time to make a plan.

For my hospital stay I had picked up a couple of magazines. One was “Art Journaling” mostly because it had lots of pictures to look at. And one of the articles was about art made after a trip to the Postal History Museum here in Tucson! What! She had bought fish of the world stamps. Located near the University of Arizona I thought this would make a nice, short outing.

So off we went on Friday to view an 1800’s post office and learn all about stamps. It was actually rather interesting and I learned a lot about their education program and got some information to pass on to my son’s school. They also sold stamps and had big bags of stamps from specific countries or envelopes of stamps based on themes. You could buy just clock stamps or bicycles etc. I bought an envelope of mixed stamps of the world.

The page I created for my sketchbook project.

After the post office we went to lunch at Lindy’s, a decent burger place nearby. And then we went commissary shopping as I wasn’t supposed to carry heavy bags yet and was trying to limit my twisting and bending.

On Saturday I let the family recover from the first outing and then sprang Sunday’s outing on them: a picnic up at Mt. Lemmon. While the weather was still triple digits at the base of the mountain, up at 8000′ it was a pleasant 80°. We don’t go up the mountain much during the summer because it is crazy crowded, especially on weekends, but we decided to chance it anyway.

We lucked out and found a table and parking at Inspiration Rock. The weather was luscious and we enjoyed a simple picnic lunch and played two games of ‘Sorry’. I lost both but didn’t care, I was so happy to be outside and not melting!

Hoo-doo’s!

Then we decided to see how crowded the town of Summerhaven was. Again we lucked out and found a parking spot first try. We walked down to the Cookie Cabin to get plate sized cookies. The line was out the door and after 10 minutes of not really moving we decided our luck had run out and moseyed over to the Rainbow Gift shop for a browse and then to the General Store for fudge.

We sat on a bench outside the store eating the fudge and watching all the jockeying for parking spaces and admiring the flowers before starting our descent for home.

Hoo-doo’s from above!

At home we made popcorn and watched “Harriet the Spy” (because she was a 6th grader and that is what grade my son is starting). I declared the weekend a success despite not getting a cookie the size of my head.

On Monday when I woke up to rainy looking clouds I realized it was perfect baking weather. (Okay, maybe not perfect because it was still hot but at least it looked like baking weather.) I made my own cookie the size of my head. Bigger even! A sugar cookie with mini chocolate chips and orange (in color and flavor) frosting. And sprinkles. The perfect ending.

The ‘plate’ is actually the lid to my Tupperware cupcake container, so 12″ in diameter! I was thinking this would be cool to do at Christmas.

Good Things Thursday

Just a quick post today, we have a few errands to run and then the triple digit heat will send us into the pool!

I am learning to let go of expectations (especially in regards to my son) and so many things are making me happy this week! I am, for a change, living in the moment.

I am enjoying the return of “The Good Witch” in addition to watching “Poirot” and the last few episodes of “A Place to Call Home” (but why is Olivia letting Matthew push her around?).

My son and I have just about finished re-doing his room. We painted a wall, ordered cool outlet covers and light switch plates and put up a spacious wall of cubbies. We took everything out and cleaned the carpet. His new bed is delivered and the under storage is plentiful and works great. Now we just have to clear out the closet.

A few weeks ago I got a call about the Census Bureau job but the training date was only 4 days after my surgery so I didn’t think I could go. They said they would put my name back in the pool for the second wave of hiring and I got a call this week, this time with a training date in August so I said yes!

Thanksgiving in June. I figure if you can have Christmas in July that would translate to Thanksgiving in June. I made turkey tenderloins, cranberry sauce (I always freeze a bag or two of cranberries) and a sweet potato pie that turned out quite tasty. (I tried a new recipe that had maple syrup in it and whipped egg whites to make it light.)

To help add a feeling of cool to the post!

I am a bit of a weather geek and one of my sorrows is how boring the weather tends to be here. Aside from the occasional large monsoon thunderstorm (mostly in August) there isn’t much that happens here weatherwise. But this year we had snow in February and an actual spring!

Typically we are swimming by mid-May on a regular basis and June is hot, dry, cloudless and still. This year we had vast temperature swings, wind and bits of rain, enough with all the pollen to turn our pool green. My husband spent a week trying to clear it up and we finally gave up and called in the pros. Three days later the pool was clear, just in time for the triple digit heat.

We had a thunderstorm one night, very odd this time of year, but exhilarating. And we seem to get clouds and overcast skies for part of each day, very atypical. The forecast is for a late monsoon season this year. I don’t believe it.

My local library branch has bookcases in the front of the library that display new books and recently returned books, staff picks and then some sort of themed display. (Right now it is kid’s books designed to get them to read over the summer.) I love browsing these displays and stumbling on a happy surprise. Last trip I found “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton. I love books that show different periods in time and at the end find out how everyone connects! Looks like that is Morton’s theme and I am looking forward to reading more of her works.

Realizing that the only way to keep my son off the computer is to get him out of the house in the afternoons. I have several adventures planned for the next two weeks, most involving lunch and a visit to various places. Today we are going to Target to get a few items for his room, the library and finally Trader Joe’s for those tiny ice cream cones.

Happy Almost Summer!

And don’t forget Flag Day tomorrow!

May Madness: Mum (And Photo Friday!)

As in chrysanthemum, not a British Mom!

In the four seasons world every fall I would put a mum and a pumpkin somewhere near my front door. And every spring I would throw the long dead mum away.

The first year I lived here in the desert southwest I continued the tradition only to have javelinas munch my chrysanthemum down to nothing and roll my pumpkin down the street until they broke it open and then ate it. We watched them do it. I was very sad.

I bought a second chrysanthemum and sadder but wiser put it safely in the backyard. And eight years later I still have the same plant! It blooms two or three times a year.

Look at all those buds!

In the heat of the summer I keep it fully in the shade and in September I pop it back into the morning sun. During the winter it gets full sun. If there is a freeze I tuck it under the patio and drape a towel over it.

Once it blooms I leave the dead stalks until the new growth underneath gets well established. I figure the stalks provide some protection from the sun in the summer and the cold in the winter.

I have been watching my plant for a few weeks now, waiting for a nice amount of blooms to open for a photo Friday shoot.

Til tomorrow…