The Week in Review 6/27/2018

Summer Solstice:  We went all out celebrating the Solstice.  First we had a picnic lunch in our yard.  We ate the Peanuts Thanksgiving meal:  popcorn, pretzel sticks, jelly beans and toast. After dinner we took a long swim staying in the pool until dark.  Which is only ~8:15p here.  We got ready for bed and then came outside and looked at the stars and the moon and the creepy shadows until 10:00p.  I laid in the hammock and my son had the swing. I thought about sleeping out all night but as it was still 90° at 9:00p we decided to pass.  Plus there is the whole bobcat, scorpion, rattlesnake fears.  We used the lanterns we made earlier this summer (pictured above).  We decorated jars with glitter glue and put in fairy lights.  In the dark it looks like a jar of fireflies, so cool.

A Mild Annoyance:  I switched to a school year planner a few years ago finding it worked better for me.  This year I ordered a planner on-line and didn’t realize it started in August and my current planner ends in June.  Oops. I don’t think I will be ordering a planner on-line again.  I don’t love the one I got dates aside.  It is a little too busy for me.

Something Worrisome:   The cashier at the commissary had a very odd moment.  In the middle of checking out my groceries she paused.  There were bananas sitting on the scale and I thought she was trying to remember the PLU number.  Then she asked ” did you hand me five-oh-nine or five-eighteen?”  I thought she was asking me what the PLU number was and responded with a “huh”?  There was clearly a sticker with the number right on top of the bananas.  Then she asked if I just handed her some money.  What? She looked blank a moment then rang up something that came to $40.11 which she then voided.  She looked at the bananas again and then said something about taking some allergy medicine which had made her sleepy. She finished ringing up the rest of my groceries and as I was driving home I began to wonder if she had had a small stroke or something.  I felt like I should have said something to the manager who had to come over because of the void.  I have been worried about that poor woman ever since.

Throwback Reading:  I think I may have invented the term but I know I am not the only one re-reading favorite childhood books.  I just indulged myself with the purchase of the whole “Ramona” series by Beverly Cleary.  My son and I have read them together (checked out from the library) over the last few years but I decided I really wanted to read them in order over the summer to myself.  So I splurged on buying a set and am so happy I did.  I got a paperback version in a cardboard case and they have wonderful drawings scattered throughout.  Bonus, my son decided to re-read them also.

CSA:  I have been loving my CSA (community supported agriculture) pickup every Sunday.  One less thing I have to think about and to my surprise I am even enjoying the beets.  I made Harvard Beets with the first batch and roasted the second with olive oil and fresh thyme from my one and only herb plant. And I found the easiest squash recipe ever from Susan Branch:  slice squash very thin (you can do yellow or zucchini), heat up some Italian salad dressing and pour over.  I let it sit on the counter 20 to 30 minutes and then popped it in the fridge.  I took it out about 30 minutes before dinner, it was cool and refreshing.  Very tasty in the hot weather.

Our one day of rain from Hurricane Bud led our cat’s claw to bloom.  So nice to see some color.

How are you enjoying summer?

The Week in Review 6/20/2018

Rain: It is a rare and wondrous thing to get rain in the desert, even more rare in June. I thoroughly enjoyed the remnants of “Bud” waking to steady rain and thunder Saturday morning. We had storms off and on all day with a particularly heavy deluge in the late afternoon that had us a bit worried about flooding but didn’t cause any damage.

Rained so hard I couldn’t see out the window.

What I am watching: Eagerly waiting for the final episode of “Genius: Picasso” on National Geographic Channel. I got used to the jumping around in time format and loved learning about the man and a little history of the various time periods. I thought this was a stand alone mini-series and was happy to learn it is actually a series. They did Einstein last season and I found it on-line and watched the first episode. Same time traveling format (which I don’t really love), I am eager to continue my education (even if the math/physics goes right over my head!). Next season they are doing Mary Shelly, can’t wait.

Flag Day: I like celebrating lesser feted holidays like Flag Day.  Didn’t do much but we did eat red, white and blue for dinner:  raspberry, blackberry and vanilla yogurt parfaits and Patriot’s Day pancakes served with blueberries and raspberries. Yum. (No pictures, sorry.)

I couldn’t find a picture to color that matched my mood and then remembered my sketchbook and doodled myself a picture.

Hot Water:  It took a full week to get our hot water heater repaired due to the left hand not talking to the right with the various entities involved.  Since the problem was a defective part the supplier was involved who did not want the original guy who installed it to replace it.  They wanted to use their main plumber because this is an on-going problem with our model of water heater. It really wasn’t that big of an inconvenience, more of a nuisance. I had to wash the dishes by hand and take sort of cool showers.  (It is impossible to get cold water out of the tap here in the summer.)  The good news was it didn’t cost us anything and we got the new and improved part with the plastic prong (that broke off) replaced with a metal one. Just bad luck it happened while we were away.

How is your summer going?

The Week in Review 6/13/18

I am back from our vacation in Toronto, Canada and I am exhausted. Now I am surrounded by stacks of laundry and keeping an eye on Hurricane Bud.  How exactly does one prepare for a hurricane in the desert?  Anyway here are some of the highlights of the trip.

Favorite Food: Tim Horton’s maple glazed donut. I always thought people were crazy being all excited about how we have In-n-Out Burgers but now I get it.  That is how I feel about Tim Horton’s!

Favorite Place:  Ripley’s Aquarium.  We did a lot in Toronto (CN Tower, Bluejays game, Casa Loma (the castle), Center Islands, Hockey Hall of Fame, St. Lawrence Market as well as a trip to Niagara Falls) and the aquarium was the most impressive.  When I saw the name “Ripley’s”  I was afraid it was going to be full of three headed fish but even though it was “that Ripley” it was a normal aquarium.  A really cool, large, fantastic aquarium.

Yup, sharks swim right by your head!

The stereotype is true:  Everyone in Canada was very friendly, crazy polite and super helpful.  Not one surly waitress or impatient cashier. People held doors, cars waited to make right hand turns while we were in the crosswalk and every time my husband screwed up the credit card reader (which was every time he used it) they just laughed and reset it and helped him out. Our condo had this weird (to us) key fob thing that you used to get in the outer lobby door and to use the elevator.  We had an access code to get us in the first time (the key was in the unlocked condo) and that was supposed to magically work the elevator to our floor.  Only a bunch of people were going in and they held the door for us so when we got in the elevator we could not get to our floor.  But a guy in the elevator was going to the floor beneath ours and took us up the one flight of stairs and unlocked the fire door for us.  How nice was that?

The Journey To and From:  Surprisingly smooth.  No delays, no turbulence, no lost luggage.  The only issues we had were with technology.  Passport readers never worked easily for us and when we checked in for our return trip our luggage tags printed but not our boarding passes.  But in typical Canadian style an agent was right there and whisked us over to a computer terminal and got us all set.  I was surprised at how computerized the Customs and Immigration process was and breathed a sigh of relief when we passed through after all the problems we had with the machine reading our passport barcodes (coming and going, sheesh).

The Kindness of Neighbors:  As bad luck will happen our hot water heater had a valve fail from corrosion (we have very hard water here) and spewed three inches of water into the garage.  Our neighbor leaving for work at 6:15a.m. noticed the water coming out under the garage door and shut the water off at the main valve.  He then called his friend who he knew worked with my husband.  From there three of my husband’s co-workers/friends (including the guy who was checking on the pool for us while we were gone) came over and cleared out the garage, set up some floor driers, contacted the hot water heater guy and sent him a picture of the corroded valve so he could order a new one.  We still don’t have hot water but the garage dried out nicely (it helped that is has been 105° everyday) and there is no sign of mildew or even a smell.  Whew!

I miss you my friend.

 

And how is your summer going?

The Week in Review: Summer Plan

We are now one week into summer vacation and “The Plan” is working out quite well which is a huge relief.

THE PLAN: I spent time really thinking about how to make this summer a good one.  Left to his own devices my son would spend every available moment on the computer.  I lean towards a more balanced use of time.  So I made THE PLAN.  No computer use until after lunch.  And no he cannot eat lunch at 10:00am.  And yes, he will try and push lunch earlier and earlier.

Instead we will spend the morning doing chores and errands, going on adventures, playing board games and three specific tasks:  the 15 min room project, schoolwork and summer journaling.

It has to be done: I want my son to help with cleaning.  I don’t want him growing up thinking things happen by magic or with no idea of the time and energy it takes to maintain a house.  A few months ago I started with him doing one or two small tasks after school each day (dusting, emptying the dishwasher, picking up etc) and will build on those this summer.  The truth is my son is a slob and I do not want any future partner hating me for not “raising him right”.  I know I won’t change him but I hope to at least make him aware of his own messes.

Three tasks:  Our three tasks will take less than an hour each day but I hope we accomplish a lot by the end of summer.  One: The room project is simply giving his room a good clearing out 15 minutes at a time.  He has a small room and a lot of stuff.  A good purge is needed and a semblance of order brought to the current chaos.  Two: Schoolwork will be focused mainly on practicing his math skills and work on his writing skills.  Three:  We are each going to keep a journal of the summer.  It is a sneaky way to practice writing skills and creativity.  We each bought a little journal and some stickers and some new gel pens to share.  This is a task he is actually excited about now that he knows it won’t be just writing but drawing and stickers and whatever we want to use to document the summer.

I made a habit tracker for our three tasks. Working on thinking up some small rewards for meeting our goals.  Any ideas?  

Not all work:  We also have two vacations planned, one to Toronto Canada and a camping trip up in the mountains.

Bucket List:  I made a summer bucket list so when the heat or being housebound has fried my brain I can pluck something off the list. I mainly have activities that we can do at home because I have learned that most likely we will not want to go places in the heat or during torrential monsoon rains.  That is just the way it is here.  Our July is like other places February.

Not fancy but it works for us.

No post next week, we will be off on our big summer vacation trip!

 

Here’s to everyone having a great summer!

 

The Week in Review 5/23/2018

Something making me happy:  Summer is here! Today is the last day of school. No more alarm clock or lunch making first thing in the morning.  I think I have a good plan for the summer, I just hope I have the energy and patience to make it happen. In anticipation I put away the Spring decorations and put out our red, white and blue theme which will take us through Memorial Day, Flag Day (June 14th) and 4th of July.

What I read: “Absent in the Spring” by Mary Westmacott aka Agatha Christie. This is actually a re-read, I love this story about finding out about yourself.

What I watched: Finished watching “The Terror” and that show scared the pants off me!  Not the creature but watching the military order disintegrate and how one evil man could ruin an entire expedition.  And I may have watched a few hours of Royal Wedding stuff 🙂 .

My latest coloring project. I would have worn the one on the left (with a shrug to be appropriately modest)  to the royal wedding, if I had been invited.

Family movie night: I know this is hard to believe but my son and I are just getting around to reading the Harry Potter series. We finished book one and got the first movie from the library.  We spent Saturday morning making a few floating candles, chocolate frogs and cauldron cupcakes.  My son made a little banner with the four different Hogwart’s houses and some wizard cards to go with our frogs.  Pizza and popcorn rounded out dinner.  The movie was longer than I expected so we had a rather late night but worth it.

I am so doing this for Halloween in our front yard!

Crazy toenails: I seldom wear sandals so I paint my toenails just for myself.  I call this “rainbow sherbet”:

It was surprisingly hard to take a close up picture of my own toes.

A happy surprise:  When I went to my bowling tournament in Laughlin, NV a few weeks ago I had only signed up for singles.  When I checked in I was asked if I wanted to bowl doubles, someone was in need of a partner.  I said okay, introduced myself to some guy I didn’t know and then went off to bowl on my own lanes at the other end of the bowling alley.  I never saw him again and had no idea what he bowled.  I got the results in the mail and we took 7th place out of 41 winning some prize money! A nice surprise since I finished 19th out of 50 in singles.

 

I hope you had a good week!

The Week in Review: Book Edition

I thought I would change things up a bit and write about books this week.  As much as I love to read I am surprised I don’t write about books more. Hmm.


Random Pick: A few weeks ago at the library I chose a shelf on a whim and counted over 33 books. I got “Wedding Girl”. Totally not what I was in the mood for. I looked up and…ta-da “Cooking for Picasso” called my name. Loved it!  One of those novels based on a bit of historical fact and jumped back and forth in time, in a good way.

Serendipity:  The day after I started reading “Cooking for Picasso”  I got my National Geographic magazine in the mail and it had an article on Picasso and let me know that there is a mini-series about the life of Picasso on the National Geographic channel starting in April. How coincidentally wonderful is that?  It is a 10 part series I am recording to watch during the summer.

Something Crazy:  Remember “chiaroscuro”?  Yes, again!  This time in “The Golden Hour” by T. Greenwood. And also in the book a character wears a pair of red flannel pajamas with black scottie dogs on them.  I have those pajamas!  I am so reading some more Greenwood, she gets me. 🙂

Mystery Series:  My favorite genre is the mystery.  For quite a few years I really liked getting into a series but lately I have found that all the newer series seem pretty repetitive.  After 3 or 4 books the series grows stale not to mention how similar they all feel. Woman loses job, breaks up with long time boyfriend and moves back home.  She has a quirky but endearing family, lands some sort of interesting job or joins the family business  and promptly gets involved with a readily available handsome member of the law enforcement. Add in an unbelievable number of murders in a small town.  Sheesh.

But here are a few series that have managed to stay believable and keep things fresh:

The Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny– It helps that the main character is a homicide investigator, making his proximity to murder believable.  There is so much depth to these stories though and so many other characters.  Never boring, never predictable.

The Faith Fairchild series by Katherine Hall Page – Enough travel keeps things interesting as well as the details of the rest of her life as her children grow up.  Good recipes too!

The Sadie Hoffmiller series by Josi Kilpack – I have only finished the first three books (there are 12) but this series feels much more realistic than most.  Yes, there is a boyfriend detective but she still gets sentenced to community service for interfering in a police investigation. Pretty real!  And there is a lot of travel so no scary small town full of homicides.

Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton –  There is a mystery in each book but not necessarily a murder.  Set in England it appeals to the Anglophile in me and while there is a little of the woo-woo communication from the dead it doesn’t override the rest of the story.

The Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen – I love learning about the early 1900’s in New York City where this series is set.  It is interesting seeing how much harder it was to track down information in those days, how people lived in general and all the obstacles to being a lady detective.  Yes, there is a police love interest but I can live with it.

The Jane Austen series by Stephanie Barron – I have only read the first two books (of thirteen I believe) but seriously why wouldn’t I love Jane Austen as a sleuth?  England, historical time period and a writer, all right up my alley.

What book I just finished: “Euphoria” by Lily King, not my usual fare but lately I have been choosing more books randomly, either off the ‘recently returned shelf’ or the staff picks or just walking down an aisle seeing what catches my eye.  This book did not disappoint and suited my mood which has been rather up and down thanks to MHC (menopausal hormonal craziness). {I am hoping if I use MHC enough times it will catch on.}  A Margaret Mead inspired story that really held my attention.

What I am reading right now:  “Into the Magic Shop” by James R. Doty, MD, again not something that would normally grab me but I am surprised at how much I am loving this book.  I am not quite 1/2 way yet but already I want to be a better person and really learn how to meditate.  I have chosen “rose rain” as my focus word.

An easy way to track your reading: I had never thought about tracking what I read until I stumbled across the clever idea of using a five year journal and promptly adopted it.  For those of us not interested in digital tracking I have found a small five year diary works perfectly.  I jot down the title, author and a sentence or two about what I thought of the book or how it made me feel. I list the book under the date I started it.  Super easy, not overly time consuming and this diary is going to last more than five years, even with all I read. I started last July and could not be happier. And my diary is so cute!

 

Did you have a good book week?

The Week in Review 5/9/2018

Something I accomplished: I cleaned up my office.  I started with just wanting to declutter the shelves a bit and ended up doing a lot more. I threw away two bags of garbage, 2 bags of recycle and have one box of donate/sell stuff. Now when I walk into the room I smile.

Something I changed:  So maybe this is a little weird but I changed my deodorant and I love my new one so much.  It is not supposed to leave those yellow stains on white shirts plus it seems to just work better.  Kind of a big deal here in the desert heat. Speaking of which…

Summer is here: The heat seemed to roar in overnight, poof 100° days.  The good news is I had my first swim of the season over the weekend.  The water felt wonderful.  The bad news is allergy season is still at its peak and I woke the next day with bloodshot, weepy crusty eyes.  Not good.

A fun project: The end of school is fast approaching so I wanted to make some little notes for my son’s lunch to count down the last 10 days. Found some cute numbers to print out and color and put them on summer scrapbooking paper.

 

Paint Chip Poetry: I felt like writing a bad poem this week so here it is. (I am re-reading “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland so blame her.)  I chose three yellow and one orange (for the heat) and one green (because it is still spring).  Paint chip words are in italics.

My zest for life was wilting

under the

habanero hot blazing sun

at 8:00 a.m. no less.

Summer had settled in for good,

startling me with its ferocity.

I pick a spring of mint

for my morning iced tea

and retreat indoors

not emerging again until the

lightning and thunder

of the afternoon monsoons arrive –

three months hence.

And how was your week?

 

The Week in Review 5/2/2018

What I am reading: I just finished “The Fire by Night” by Teresa Messineo. My favorite WWII historical fiction genre. I wanted to just keep reading and at the same time I wanted the book to last a long time. It is about two nurses, one in the Pacific and one on the Western Front. Captivating reading. And now I am reading Donna Ball’s Ladybug Farm series. Love it!

“Snow Days”:  In case you hadn’t heard the Arizona school teachers went on strike.  The first two days were fun, a nice break from the routine.  But once we hit day 3 I started some home schooling for my son.  It is frustrating not knowing when school is going to resume.

What I am watching/watched: “The Bletchley Circle”, set in a time period I find fascinating (1940’s – 50’s) and a mystery.  Plus it was only three episodes so not a huge commitment. I stumbled on season one on Ovation TV and am thrilled to see there is a season two. And I have the first episode of the new season of “The Good Witch” on my DVR, saving it for when I can sit and really savor it (see snow day above).

Something we did: We went to the Pima County Fair. We have only gone once before in the 8 years we have lived here.  It is just not my favorite thing to do.  Too hot and too pricey as I remembered it.  It was still the same.  It was a good family outing but I doubt we’ll go again  because of the cost.

A sky high view of the fair.

Three Potlucks: I have had to make something for three different potlucks in the last two weeks.  For my end of season bowling potluck I made brownie crusted cheesecake with a strawberry topping and for our annual Guild salad luncheon I made lemon squares.  But my favorite was the chocolate chip kitty cat cookies I made for my son’s end of season bowling potluck.

I have made these before and forgot how cute they are.

And how was your week?

The Week in Review 4/25/18

This past weekend I gave myself an early Mother’s Day present, a weekend away. I drove to Laughlin, Nevada for a bowling tournament.

Something that surprised me:  I had no idea that there was anyplace left in the U.S. where you could smoke indoors.  When I went into the casino/hotel where I was staying I thought I had walked back in time to the 70’s or 80’s peering through a haze of smoke looking for the registration desk.

Something else that surprised me: My car has this funny quirk where sometimes the radio won’t work. Once I turn off the car and start it back up again it resumes working and it only happens once in a great while.  Of course it happened on the trip after a stop for gas.  I didn’t realize it had happened until I was back on the interstate so I decided to sing for myself.  Turns out the only songs I know the words to are Christmas Carols.  Really?  Really.  I tried Springsteen, Tom Petty, John Cougar Mellencamp, Elton John etc.  I had nothing but a few lines here and there.  So I sang Christmas songs for awhile and I did okay with a few (okay two: “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch”) television theme songs from the 70’s.  Crazy.

Something I enjoyed:  An early morning walk along the Colorado River.  The river was so clear and just beautiful.

The Colorado River, my hotel is on the right. 

A surprise place to visit in Arizona:  On my way home I went through Lake Havasu City to see THE London Bridge.  So cool!  I I had a very nice breakfast in the shadow of the bridge at a little cafe.

Yup, THE London Bridge, it just seems so bizarre that it is here in Arizona!

Something I am grateful for:  That I bowled decent, nothing spectacular but I didn’t embarrass myself.  And that I had a safe trip, always a little worried driving across the desert in the heat (though it wasn’t too hot thankfully).

 

And how was your week?

 

The Week in Review 4/18/2018

Labor of love: Sometimes I like to color pictures to put in my son’s lunch and was trying to think of something fun to color now that we are getting near the end of the school year (only 25 lunches left to make, yeah!).  Duh, he is into all things Minecraft so I printed out a few pictures I found on-line.  Above is the picture of a “creeper”.  I believe he is bad but my son said I did a good job adding the squares and making it look “real”.

Something making me unhappy: Menopausal hormonal craziness aka MHC. I think it should be an official disease with an acronym.  My body has gone haywire and getting anything accomplished seems monumental, even writing this blog.  I have a strong desire to do absolutely nothing.

My favorite time of day:  The gloaming which means twilight or dusk.  I first learned the word gloaming from a Joyce Carol Oates short story.  I like to watch the color change on the mountains to the north from my swing or from my office window facing south (not having a good westerly view of any sort).  I do miss those long lingering twilights up north in July. Sigh.

 Taken a few minutes after sunset.

Something that made me happy:  (Well, as happy as one can get with MHC.) We cleaned up the backyard and rearranged the furniture and potted plants.  We do this every year in the hope of finding some magical combination that makes the area more appealing.  This year I feel a flicker of hope we may have hit the nail on the head.  I ate breakfast out there Monday morning and lunch on Tuesday and it all felt rather continental.

Paint Chip Poetry:  As part of my self imposed MHC therapy I chose 3 blue chips for sadness, one red chip for craziness and one yellow chip as a ray of hope.  (Paint chip words are in italics.)

The blues surround my heart

reflected by the lapis lazuli of an afternoon sky

And yet

As I drink lemonade in the shade of the old barn

I feel my blues drifting up

to become part of the indigo glow of the evening sky.

 

And how was your week?