Monday, May 23, 2016

May 23, 2016 On the road again

On the road again, 

Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way
And our way
Is on the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends

I am bringing my banjo with me and maybe I’ll find some friends to make music with if they can tolerate my playing.

new decal on the front
We have been busy the past few weeks getting the trailer spruced up for travel. Jay fixed the rotten floor under the couch, cleaned up the wiring, checked the brakes, replaced the end cap decal, and gave it a bath. 

We have run all of the appliances, checked the generator, batteries and tires. We’ll be ready to roll pretty quick. And we are getting darn excited about it too. 

We love to travel, seeing different places, meeting new people and having new experiences. Well, sometimes everyday feels like a new experience, but it’s fun to have that in a different place once in awhile.

If you’re reading this in the Western United States, you might see us in the next 3 months. Let me know where you are and maybe we can rendezvous. 

“I wonder if they travel the world in search of the place in which they can stay put, or travel in fear of one day actually finding it.”

the one who scares all of the other birds away...

my latest addition to the cactus garden

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 12, 2016 a feather beard

Toby likes to try to catch some of the wildlife in our garden. Sometimes it's a lizard or a gecko. Sometimes it's a bird. This day, he got a hold of a dove, but the dove got away.

and the birds also have to watch for the hawks. I managed to catch this one just as he was taking flight.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

May 11, 2016 A trip to the Grand Canyon

Our friend Kinuyo, from Tateyama, Japan honored us with a visit at the end of April. She had originally had the idea to come visit last September, but wasn’t able to put together the trip. I was so happy to have her come here, it was her first time to the desert. 

We spent her first afternoon here at Madera Canyon, a beautiful small canyon about 20 minutes from our house. It is a haven for migratory birds on the way to and from South America. We sat at the bird watching station for awhile, saw hummingbirds, blue birds of some sort, finches and were even surprised by a whole flock of wild turkeys! We took a short hike through the forest above the creek, not much water running in it this time of year but it was nice and cool in the trees. The view was pretty but not very clear due to all the dust stirred up by the windy weather we have been having for the last few weeks. It was not at all what Kinuyo expected the desert to be like, she told me. 

The next day we took a drive to see the saguaro forest west of Tucson. We drove out over Gates Pass, which is always a beautiful drive and when it’s clear you can see for miles. Again, though, the view was obscured by dust, but still expansive. From there we went to the Sonoran Desert Museum. This is more of a cross between a zoo/botanical garden/park/aquarium than it is a museum in the traditional sense. It showcases many of the desert species that you wouldn’t see in the wild unless you spent a lot of time out in the desert. The Gila Monster, for instance, spends about 80-90% of its time underground. I did not know that which makes the encounter we had while riding the 4-wheelers out in the San Pedro river valley last month even more special.

Kinuyo had expressed her desire to see the Grand Canyon, so that's what we did. The last two days of her visit with us we piled in the truck and drove to the Grand Canyon. I was so excited to be able to take her there. It is an awesome experience and I am always moved by the immensity of it. I was a little anxious because of the weather, out of my control, I know, but I still wanted it to be a little clear. We lucked out the afternoon we arrived. The clouds were behaving, being all puffy and nice, moving around in the wind to create shadows. But boy was it cold.

 We had a few hours of daylight to enjoy the view and I wanted to be sure to take advantage of every moment so we put off checking in until about 5:30. I went to the registration desk to inquire about our reservation and the clerk was having trouble finding it. My heart sank for a moment. How could that be? I know I made it for the 27th, didn’t I? Nope. The clerk said, “I have you here as a no-show from yesterday.” Aack!! But she assured me it was no problem, they have plenty of rooms and we won’t be charged for not showing up on the 26th. Good grief! I just don’t know what happened with that. I didn’t have the confirmation email because I had made the reservation prior to April 11. All of our emails prior to that date that were in our inbox were mysteriously erased accidentally by Jay on his cell phone. I suppose I could have called them to confirm, but I had it in my head that it was for the 27th, so why would I do that? And why would I bother to put it on the calendar? I can remember something that important, can’t I?

After beating myself up severely in my head and lying awake half the night trying to figure out what I had done wrong, I realized I needed to let it go. It doesn’t matter that I made the mistake. It all worked out. We got a room, I wasn’t charged for not showing up, it was no big deal and we had a wonderful time. I’m just glad I was able to keep my thoughts to myself, mostly. I did talk it over with Jay and he told me to let it go. 
 In the morning, we got up early, about 6:00. I wanted to be sure to again take advantage of our daylight hours. I had my plan, early walk, breakfast, shuttle ride to Hermit’s Rest, walk, enjoy the view and be on the road headed back south by 10:00, 11:00 at the latest. We needed to experience Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon too. The weather was cooperating, it was a beautiful morning, partly sunny, puffy clouds and crisp. As in 32 degrees crisp. We did early walk and a light breakfast. Then Kinuyo asked me how much time we were going to spend there. I realized then, that my schedule needed to be abandoned. We needed to be there all day if she wanted to be. She was awestruck. As was I. Words cannot describe the feelings I have when I visit the Grand Canyon and I believe Kinuyo was having a similar experience.

yep, there's a big ol' canyon out there

I told her we can stay as long as she would like. We can drive back in the dark, she had seen that part on the way up. So we stayed. We rode the shuttle to Hermit’s Rest and watched the clouds begin to roll in. She and I rode the shuttle back to one of the other stops so we could get out and walk along the rim trail. Jay went back to the room to gather our things for checkout. The storm was moving quickly in our direction and before we got back to the last bus stop the canyon was engulfed in clouds and it was snowing. We did get a glimpse of a rainbow at the bottom of the canyon, which was breathtaking.

It all worked out well. We met Jay back at the hotel and went in for a light lunch at the cafeteria. We spent some time at Hopi House for Kinuyo to do some souvenir shopping. The weather made it easier to leave. There wasn’t anything more to see because of the clouds and there wasn’t any chance of it clearing up again while we were there.

We left about 2:00 heading for Oak Creek Canyon on our way to Sedona. The clouds dissipated and we had some beautiful views of the canyon, stopping for a short walk at Slide Rock park before rolling in to Sedona. Kinuyo and I parked Jay on a bench with a cup of coffee and wandered around town enjoying the views of the red rocks. We had dinner at the Thai Palace, a great find off the main street. Then we headed home to Green Valley. I am so glad we were able to show Kinuyo so much of the desert and the Grand Canyon.

Kinuyo in Sedona

friends for life

it's always hard to say goodbye at the airport

Saturday, May 7, 2016

May 7, 2016 Enjoy the present moment

The past month has been pretty busy, so I’m not sure where to begin with this story. I know everyone has busy lives and things get kind of crazy at times and this has been one of those times for me, which explains a little about why there hasn't been any posts lately.

On March 19 I had just finished my yoga class in Tucson and decided to take a break on the steps of an office building near where my car was parked. I had a light snack to eat and the day was sunny and warm. I was checking my emails, reading about a friend of mine’s husband who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his leg. He had been having inflammation and pain with this leg for a couple of years and finally had gotten this diagnosis.

Naomi at her brother's wedding November 2013
While reading this bit of sad news, my phone rang and it was my sister-in-law, Cindy. She was calling to let me know that her daughter, Naomi, had died a few days earlier of an accidental drug overdose. Yes, she was an addict. She had struggled with addiction for about 10 years and it finally got the better of her. Our family has been aware of her condition and we have been seeking support through groups such as Al-Anon and Christian Recovery, as well as each other and friends. We did our best to support Naomi and now we mourn the loss of a very special person. 

I knew I needed to be with the family for the memorial service and once Naomi’s parents set the date I began making my plans to get to Seattle. The service was April 16 so I had plenty of time to figure out transportation. Part of what I wanted to do there was also to visit my friend Sue H. in Bellingham as she will be cruising up the Inside Passage when we get to Bellingham in June. And it was her birthday and I wanted to help celebrate that with her. I also wanted to spend a little bit of time with my Mom. It’s been along time since we’ve seen each other and even though we talk on the phone every week, it’s always good to have that real face time and Mom-hug. 

Seattle and Bellingham put on their best faces for my short trip. It was a perfect Spring week, unseasonably warm temperatures, partly sunny with a few puffy clouds. Lake Washington was calm and glistening, Mom and I walked to the park and enjoyed the view from a choice bench.

 Mt. Rainer poked its head out,

 flowers were blooming in abundance. 

I had fun with public transportation and relying on others with cars to get me to my destinations.

I took the new Light Link train from SeaTac to Husky Stadium where my Mom picked me up. Then the next day, she dropped me off again at the station where I took the train back downtown to catch the Bolt Bus to Bellingham.
Sue H. picked me and delivered me back to the station in Bellingham where I took the Bolt Bus back to Seattle, then the train again back to the airport where my step-brother picked me up. That is the nice thing about a metropolitan city, they have alternatives to not needing to have your own car.

I returned to Green Valley April 18 and had week to make final preparations for our friend Kinuyo’s visit from Japan. She was with us from April 25 to April 29 and we had a wonderful time. More on that in a different post. It was on April 26 as I was making a quick morning check of emails before setting out on a sightseeing tour with Kinuyo that I got the news that my friend’s husband, the one diagnosed with the rare form of cancer, passed away on April 14. I felt bad, but also thought that I needed to set aside the grieving at that time so I could focus my attention on showing Kinuyo the sights of Arizona.

And now this past week, we have been working on cleaning up the trailer to get ready for our summer travels. We also went for a ride in the desert with some friends, so it wasn’t a week of all work.

So here I am, with some time to sit with my feelings. I take a deep breath and allow myself to cry. Loss comes to us all, whether expected or not. Even if it is expected it doesn’t lessen the sorrow, sadness,  or sense of disbelief that the person is now gone from this life. It’s important for me to find equanimity in those feelings, to find the middle path so that I don’t become consumed with the dark emotions. I remind myself that it’s okay to have those feelings, they are natural and a part of my human existence. Then on the other side, I need to remember the joyful moments spent with the people who have passed on. That it was the limit of their life here and to be grateful that I had as much time as I did with them. We never know when the end is going to come for ourselves or those who we care about. It helps to remind me to have compassion, not only for others, but to myself. To have empathy for how others may be experiencing the loss and to comfort them as I comfort myself.

As I have more of these experiences, I learn from each one. How important it is to tell those you love that you love them. To practice skillful means of communication, and to ask the question, how important is it? That ‘it’ being whether I feel the sense of being right, or if someone cuts me off while driving, or speaks harshly to me. I know I only have control over my own actions and feelings and that I can respond in a way that is beneficial to my own well being, I can feel better or at least content. 

We move through life never really knowing what comes next. We think we do, but really how can we? Enjoy the present moment. Enjoy those moments with people you care about, even if it’s just sitting quietly together watching the birds in the yard.

July 28, 2018 It's been a busy month

It’s been a busy month. Brownie at Black Elk Peak aka Harney Peak After we shipped our grandson back home, we rested a little t...