Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Try me

...if you dare.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sweet Lil' Glidin' Thang

So, I'm in the check-out line at Wal-Mart, and it's two days before Christmas. People are actually being pretty cool, considering the fact that there are four registers in the Flagstaff WalMart's Garden Center, and all four lines are jam packed. A teenaged girl I know appears looking overwhelmed and with just a few items, so I tell her to get in line in front of me. We start chit-chatting about how school's going for her and about what we each have planned for Christmas, and then finally it's her turn to check out. As she sets her purse down on the plastic bag merry-go-round thing and opens it to get her checkbook out, I see the checker dude lean over, peer into her back and say in an awed voice, "Where did you get it?"

I stand there holding my tongue while she says something unintelligible to him and he says things like, "Cool" and "Awesome." Finally, I can't take it anymore.

"Whatcha got in the bag?" I demand, feeling a little bit like a nosy neighbor but also just really needing to know what it is. When she holds the purse open and invites me to look inside, it takes a few moments for me to figure out what I'm looking for. But then I see it. The cutest, most otherworldly creature I have maybe ever seen (and I've seen a lot of cute in my day, let me tell you). It's on its back with its little paws curled in toward it's FUZZYLITTLETUMMY (sorry, can't write that in anything but all caps. Computer won't allow it), and it's about the size of a baby squirrel. But the eyes are what get me. The creature's head is maybe the size of a big marshmallow, but it's eyes take up most of that head.
What is it? I asked, my voice a little choked up from the sheer adorableness overload.

"It's a sugar glider," the girl tells me, "and she's guarding my wallet." Instantly I recall the Craigslist ads I've seen for these creatures over the years. I sort of assumed they were a type of snake or other amphibian. Truly, I had no idea.

And, honestly, I'm really not sure which is cuter - this or the sloth rehab video my dad sent last week. I mean, come on. Baby sloths in onesies? That's just playing dirty.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Very Single Parent Christmas

So, my kids will be spending Christmas with their dad - and, by definition, not with me - this year. For the past few weeks I've gotten used to people asking me (usually in hushed, careful tones), "How are you doing?"

Usually, it is a sincere and well-meaning question from people who care. And maybe they're curious, too, about what it's like to be a single parent without one's kids on Christmas - that Familiest of Family days, that day when everyone who's anyone is gathered before the yule log, cups of hot cocoa in hand, regaling each other with family stories from all the years gone by together. As Family. Who have stuck together. (And the kids all have rosy cheeks and eyes as sparkly as Christmas lights to boot.)

The holidays present a dilemma for single parents/co-parents that is perhaps unequaled at any other time of year. Not only are we facing the usual scheduling challenges, but there's the added (if unspoken) demand to Stay Cheerful ( <:-D !!!!!) - if not for the sake of tradition then for the sake of the kids who, if we stop and think about it, are the ones who are potentially having the hardest time dealing with the whole two-household situation. By the way, I realize not every single parent situation involves two households, but it's the scenario closest to mine, so I'll just go with it. Bottom line: Divorce it tough. The holidays can be tough (divorced or not). Divorce + Holidays = Potential difficulty for parents, kids, extended family and friends alike.

Two years ago, when it was my ex-husband's "turn" to have the kids for Christmas, the divorce was still a fresh wound (for me and definitely for the kids). If someone had asked me then (they probably did and I've just blocked it out) how I was doing, I no doubt would have gritted my teeth, told them I was fine and then waited until I was alone in my house to burst into bitter tears and pound the mattress with my fists. It was really, really awful. Also, I had a hard time not making it all about me, which was compounded by the fact that my ex and I both had a hard time extending even a little bit of grace and kindness to each other at that point. When he came to pick up the kids for their week-long stay that year, I held it together and forced that smile until they were out the door. Then I promptly collapsed on the couch and dissolved into a puddle of weepy slobber - not my best look. Fortunately, a couple of the people who love me most in the world were right there, sitting on either side of me, rubbing my back, holding me up and generally dealing with my meltdown.

Because it was CHRIStmas, you know? I mean, how can a mother not have her babies with her on CHRIStmas?? How can she live through not seeing their eyes sparkle like Christmas lights when they wake up and see the presents under the tree? How can she not be there to hover and coo and adore them as everyone is standing before the yule log, cups of cocoa in hand?

I'll tell you how. Because it's just a day.

I repeat: It's just a day.

Now, before you accuse me of being a Grinch or a Scrooge or, at the very least, a Very Negative Person Indeed, let me firmly state for the record that I love Christmas.

I repeat: I love Christmas.

Did my family of origin look like we had just walked out of a Norman Rockwell painting on Christmas Days when I was growing up? Hardly. We had our own set of issues and tensions like any family, and the holidays often served as a thrift store pressure cooker to really heat up all the dysfunction until the lid was blown off and all the goo ended up spattered all over the kitchen ceiling (metaphorically speaking). Did the kids' dad and I do a little better during Christmases with our kids when we were together? Maybe, but we're human beings, too, not robots. And we definitely had our issues.

Still, I love Christmas. I love the decorations. I love the get-togethers and school plays, both small and grand. I even love the tinny Christmas songs eking out from every big box store speaker starting the day after Halloween. I love looking outside on snowy evenings and seeing the neighbors' Christmas lights. I love logging onto Facebook and seeing what my family and friends are doing and baking, and how they are celebrating Christmas and Hannukah. And I love how, this year, I bought our live, re-plantable tree on sale at an awesome price (also in October) - because I get to kill two birds with one stone that way (which gets me Scottish Lassie blood a boilin'): We get to have a Christmas tree AND an addition to the landscaping out front! I love how the kids helped decorate the house at the beginning of December, mugs of Starbucks Salted Caramel hot chocolate in their hands. I love how we took turns reading Dickens' A Christmas Carol on the Nook (Mom's early Christmas gift to herself, thankyouverymuch). And I love how we've tried to keep the cat from eating the greenery so she wouldn't turn around and yark it up in one of our shoes. I love the new set of songs I've downloaded from iTunes to add to my Holiday library (it's Buble' all the way this year, because he has a voice just made for the holidays).

Truly, there is a lot to love. And I am richly blessed. Have I missed my kids this past week, and will I miss them tomorrow on Christmas morning? You bet. But unlike two years ago, this year I am not filled with fear and grief at the prospect of Christmas morning. Instead, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of love, gratitude and peace. I've been carrying those three gifts around throughout the holiday season despite the imperfections I can so easily find in myself and others. I've been carrying them despite the inconveniences and tragedies of life. And that, my friends, is what the holidays are really about. Not the yule log. Not some idea of familial perfection. Not even the salted caramel cocoa (though I admit it's a real contender).

For those single parents spending your first Christmas or Hannukah or (Insert important holiday here) away from your babies (I don't care how old they are - they're your babies) and wondering how you will get through it, I am here to tell you that you will get through it. And from here it can get better, so much better than you can maybe imagine right now. And regardless of where your kids are spending their holiday or how much distance separates you, my wish is that you will find the gifts of love, gratitude and peace wrapped and waiting for you in the morning.

Friday, December 09, 2011

be nice to the people you live with

They know where you sleep.

That is all.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

I. Am. Flamenco.

Just because I'm on a bit of a Spanish guitar kick here (and because I was once considered a member of the headbanger tribe), bear with me. As Dustin Hoffman says in Little Fockers, "I looked in the mirror and I asked myself, 'Who am I?'...And I said, 'That's it! That's me! I am Flamenco.'"

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Ottmar in a blizzard

Drove out of Flagstaff and toward home today in a near-complete white-out. The storm came on so suddenly that I pretty sure every ambulance, fire truck and tow truck in town was spoken for in the span of two hours. Truly, I've become spoiled rotten by all the mellow sunshine we've enjoyed in November. No more denying winter's arrival with this storm, though. I wonder if it's courtesy of the Santa Anas ripping through SoCal?
Thank goodness my new pretend-it's-still-summer fave Ottmar Liebert was there to get me through the worst of the blizzard - he and the twangy old Christmas songs from KAFF Country AM radio that is.

How are you planning to get through winter?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

cracked me up

So, this guy - Steve Riley - came to our local school last week as a visiting author/illustrator. Not only did have have the rapt attention of every child in the room, but the teachers were completely captivated as well. Think Jim Carrey meets Bob Ross (that guy who used to paint in real time on PBS) meets Dr. Suess. The kids at our school got to create a character named Professor Floppyshoes - an overweight mouse sporting a mohawk and - you guessed it - huge shoes who encountered his nemesis the Evil Sandwich. What a hoot!

If your school is looking for a visiting author, I can't think of a better person to get kids fired up with the joy of reading, writing and illustrating. Here's one of Steve's art lesson's on YouTube - it's tame, down-to-earth and not focused on hilarity as his classrooom performance was, but you get the idea.

Monday, November 14, 2011

heeeeeeere's Katniss!

Crikey. I can't WAIT until March 23!

Thursday, November 03, 2011


How has it taken me so long to get on Goodreads?
While I know not the answer, I do know that I'm on there now, so friend me if you'd like. Let's swap favorite book recommendations!


P.S. My handle is Nicole McInnes

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaNo? or NoNo?

People, NaNoWriMo starts today. Wait. Cancel that. It started today. Which means I'd already be behind if I was going to even DO NaNo this year, which I have wholeheartedly decided not to do for a whole host of reasons.

But, what if....?

Couldn't I just...?

What's the worst that could happen...?

These are the questions I ask myself as I come down from a month (October) of three consecutive birthday weekends, an inSANE teaching schedule plus preparation for my upcoming holiday shows at which I'm going to hawk my little soap company's wares as I've done for the past million years. (For the record, October was actually great, but I was also pretty maxed out on most levels).

Two years ago at just this exact time I was working up to a really awesome case of shingles from the stress of it all. So, since then, I've worked pretty hard to keep the kerfluffle to a minimum as much as possible (mainly by jettisoning those things from my life that aren't necessary and/or don't bring me joy and/or peace).

It's not easy.

And while NaNoWriMo isn't necessary, exactly, writing is. Because writing brings joy AND peace.

Still, I regret to say I'm going to have to resist. Unless I change my mind after publishing this post and decide to throw all caution and mental health to the wind for the next 30 days, in which case please pray for me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

skyride 2011

This is the view that made me fall in love with Northern Arizona half my life ago:

It's also the view you can see from the Skyride chair up at Arizona Snowbowl in the summer and fall, just as the aspens are turning to gold before your eyes.

So many beautiful sights to behold, so much wonder. And then you look up and see what's keeping the chair attached - ever so precariously - to the cable  (yipe!). Kinda like life, in a way (am I right?):

I love this particularly helpful reminder (uh, yeah, I'll keep that in mind, kay?):
And then there are those crazy, off-season snowboarders, always leaving evidence behind in the trees to remind us of the - er, uh - fun we'll all be having come winter:
If it was March and we were getting close to St. Patrick's Day, I'd go ahead and say something witty, like, "Erin go bra!" But it's October, so I'll refrain. Oh, wait.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

fun with templates (or, get a life already)

So, you know the opening scene of the movie Jaws? The scene where the teenagers are all partying on the beach, and then two of them - Chrissie and some useless drunk guy trying to keep up with her - go running off toward the water? And the guy goes, "Where are you going?" (pant pant), and Chrissie is all, "Swimming! Come on!" And before you know it, that chirpy little teenager dives into the water, and you're all Uh-Oh. Because you've been hearing the nuh-nuh, nuh-nu, nuh-nuh shark music while the opening credits have been rolling. You know the scene I'm talking about? The one where she gets violently pulled under the water and EATEN while the useless drunk guy naps on the shore? Yeah, that one.

Well, that's pretty much what happened to me recently when I discovered the new Blogger templates. Okay, so there was no drunk guy, no shark, and I was wearing my clothes. But the general tone was the same, because I don't even want to think about how much time I lost trying out first one and then another and then switching up the background colors and font and...

Am I made of free time? Heck no. But it's a stealthy, powerful thing, that Blogger template collection, and it'll pull you right under if you're not careful. Anyway, for now I've chosen the wildly swirling one you're experiencing while reading this post. Too much? Perhaps. But there's nothing that says I won't decide to change it again soon. I think I picked the swirls because they remind me of some soaps I batched recently called "Snowdance." Here they are in "tray" form before I cut them into loaves and then into individual bars to be packaged up for my upcoming holiday shows:

And here are a few of the finished bars, not yet packaged.
Hmmm...dare I say...they look a little...ocean-like.
Nuh-nuh, nuh-nuh, nuh-nuh.....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bartleby the Scrivener

is not a cheerful story.

That is all.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

terrible roars

Where the Wild Things Are was never one of my very favorite childrens' books. Oh, I liked it all right. But I suppose I always had a sneaking suspicion it was written for other children, boys especially, whose lives were much harder than mine was in 1970's Marin County where people worried mainly about the temperature of their hot tubs and the scarcity of peacock feathers on their blocks (if social legend is to be believed, anyway).

Don't even get me started on the recent-ish movie version of the WTWTA, though. What a nightmare, and one from which I wasn't totally sure I'd ever wake up. I didn't think it did the book justice. At all.

Anyway, this interview with Maurice Sendak  (which I found thanks to the good folks over at DGLM) is something else entirely. He's no doubt a crabby curmudgeon indeed, but I admire his frankness.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

now that's what I call a hand

Sunday, September 11, 2011

the distant bridge

Grabbed the Nikon, ran out to the pasture and snapped this before it disappeared. Zzari's 25 now (I got him when he was 3), and this actually makes my heart hurt a little...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

good times never seemed so good

Someone please tell me why I've felt the need to play this song at volume 11 lately. Is it those irresistable lambchop sideburns Neil used to sport?

Friday, September 09, 2011

fat n' sassy farm animals, etc.

It's been a good long while...again...since I've updated the blog. And I've decided I need to be okay with that, because I'm rediscovering that doing perfectly all the things I want/need to get done at any given time is just not possible. The good news is that a lot of imperfect, gorgeous things have been going on since I last checked in. Things like the kids starting back to a school year that's going very well. I'm proud of our little rural school for being one of the top performers in the state - and that includes private and charter schools! We have a pretty amazing blend of teachers and administration, and I always feel that my kids' education is right at the top of the priority list where it belongs despite the budget crunches and other woes the American educational system has been facing for way too long now.

The all-school field trip to the County Fair happened last week, and even though Zzari got out of the pasture and decimated a good chunk of my corn crop while we were gone, it was still a great day: The 4-H kids from our school and other districts showed their animals while we were there, which is always fun. I'd had some big fun judging the 4-H County Fair horse show the previous weekend, and it's always neat to see horses and young competitors from all of the county showing off the skills they've been honing all year. So, life has pretty much been all about fat and sassy farm animals more than usual for the past month or so.
What else? Oh! Laurie Halse Anderson had a writing challenge going on her blog for the month of August, but I didn't realize it until it ended! No matter. I'm going back to day one and starting from there, making part of September and October my own personal writing challenge month. This will be fun especially since I'm still undecided about NaNoWriMo this year: it's going to be a super busy soap season for me in November and December, and I've learned the hard way that trying to soap, write and teach at 100% capacity all at once is not conducive to also maintaining my sanity. And I need my sanity, thankyouverymuch.

Friday, August 19, 2011

thought for the day

Facebook is the place where you get to see how all those goofballs you knew in college/high school/elementary school are doing the same ridiculous things they did back in the day. It's just that, now, some of them are making millions doing that stuff.


Monday, August 15, 2011

pulling through

Looking for something to do with the kids during these waning dog days of summer? How about an old-fashioned taffy pull!!

I got the recipe from one of my newest and favoritest books - Sugar Baby, by this woman, Gesine Bullock-Prado, who, OMG, it turns out is Sandra Bullock's sister!!!

Anyway, the book is amazing, the recipe is ridiculously simple, and taffy pulling - it turns out - is quite an addictive and meditative pasttime. Apparently, it used to be a fairly common dating/courting activity back in the day (and talk about clean! We were washing our hands non-stop throughout. Plus, that taffy is super hot at first, which was probably a great way to guard against wandering hands, if you know what I mean. Wink wink, nudge nudge).

Basically, you boil a simple sugar mixture, work it over a cool surface a bit, add some color and extracts, and try not to drool on the rapidly hardening puddles of sheer sugar ecstasy. Just ask the three kids who joined me in all the fun.

Finally, after pulling that candy until you just can't pull it anymore, get out your squeaky clean scissors, your waxed paper and your dentist's phone number, and before you know it, you'll have this:

And then this!!:

And then, sadly, inevitably.....this:

It's a nice (sniff) farewell to these golden summer days, though. This much I know for sure.

Monday, August 08, 2011

life of pie

So, there's this fairly amazing community garden next to my kids' school. It was started by my neighbor, who is a Master Gardener and has a contagious, almost palpable enthusiasm for growing herbs and vegetables in our notoriously difficult climate with its notoriously short, unpredictable growing season (snow in late June, anyone?). As I understand it, the garden started as a 4-H project but then took on a life of its own.

The adjoining herb path, for example, became a memorial to a dear friend of mine and many others in our community who passed away a few years ago. Now the garden is a place where the Garden Girls - an unofficial gathering of local women from all walks of life, many of us with kids at the school - meet and toil and water and laugh and share things that men are absolutely NOT allowed to hear. (And that's just the garden chit-chat. Don't even get me started on the stories exchanged during our dinner gatherings.)  Also, I use the term "us" loosely, since I have not been able to attend the GG gatherings nearly as much as I'd like to. But just rest assured; these are the kind of women books should be written about. And maybe someday they will.

Anyway, back to the whole point of this post which is that a bunch of us headed down to Sedona last weekend to pick blackberries. This being August it was hotter than blazes down there, but one gal brought homemade cake pops anyway. Good Lord, they were good (and it's never too hot for ooey-gooey chocolate, right? Right.):

Fortunately, shade was plentiful along Beaver Creek, and this was appreciated by adults, kids and dog alike:

After about a half-hour of berry picking (and getting the bejeezus scratched out of my arms and legs), I came upon what I can only describe as a WALL OF SMELL so heavenly I had to just stop and sniff it deep into my lungs. It was wild mint growing right there around the boulders of the creek. A friend harvested some for me to take home, and though it was promptly planted in a comfy little herb bed here in the high country, I'm sorry to say things don't look good for my little transplant. Who knows though - maybe by this time next year I'll be trying to beat the minty ground cover off with a stick. A girl can dream.

The more intrepid among us stopped mid-pick for a dip in the local swimming hole with Sedona's characteristic red rocks rising up behind it. It's a special kind of summer Paradise, I tell ya:

Anyway, this is all to say that what started out as this on a hot August morning:

In fairly short order ended up as this:

And you know what they say about the journey being the best part?

Well, that's a dang lie, because that pie was mostly gone before it even had a chance to cool properly.

(Kidding, of course. The journey, thanks to amazing women and the amazing blessing of this place I call home, completely rocked.)

Saturday, August 06, 2011


It means "shark," but you wouldn't know it to drive through town on the winding, waterfront road leading away from Highway 101. Late in the day with the fog rolling it, the harbor's a beautiful sight.

From this little lookout next to The Caprice Restaurant you get a great view out toward Raccoon Straits. The bay itself is a perfect playground for sailboats, and we watched them frolic from our window seats. It was an extra-special way to celebrate my mother's birthday this year.

If you go, the dungeness crabcakes with remoulade are a must-nom:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Seriously? The end of June already?

It's been an absolutely crazy busy month, as I knew it would be. Seriously, people. The workload? The end-of-school shindigs with the kids? One kid's birthday? Little League wrapping up? The two events at which I've been a vendor for the past two weekends? It could drive a girl to desperation.

But it's winding down, all of it. I've had fun peddling soap for the past couple of weeks, first at a rodeo that's in its 30-somethingth year and then at a benefit for a local state park that's struggling financially as most state and national parks are these days.

And maybe, just maybe, in only handful of days from now, I'll get to enjoy an actual summer vacation for a little while among family and friends. I tell ya, the thought of sitting poolside with a good book and my iPod (and sourdough and blueberries and hummus, all from my beloved Trader Joe's) is one of the driving forces getting me out of bed in the mornings lately.

That's all to say that posting may continue to be light for a while...or maybe not. I'll leave it up to the fates and the summer sun to decide.

See ya!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

hey y'all and yee haw

Wake up and it's the last day of school for the younguns. Drag my tired butt out of bed and head toward the kitchen for some tar black coffee the consistency of river mud - just how I like it. Hand the kids their lunches, drive them to the bus and head back home to feed the foster dogs I recently took in. (Anybody need one or two sweet, smart and cool ranch-type dogs?)

I throw hay for the horses, eat a little breakfast myself and then batch some soap for the Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo coming up in a few weeks (I'm a vendor this year, so come on out, y'all), fielding phone calls and emails the whole time. After a while I hear a major clang from outside; it's Butthead (the gelding who shall otherwise remain nameless) knocking over the big steel water tub to let me know it's empty. I go outside, water the one tree I planted last fall that actually survived the winter, fill the horses' water, turn butthead out into the arena and then head back inside to check on the soap.
Not a minute later there's a ruckus outside, and l look out the window to see the other gelding (Zzari) wandering willy nilly around the back yard, munching on weeds I haven't quite gotten around to whacking yet. Apparently, I didn't close the arena gate all the way. I go outside to round him up, but the dogs are all riled because of the seasonal cattle that came visiting on the Forest Service side of my fence a little earlier.

Dogs start chasing the horse who trots away from me, alarmed. Meanwhile, Butthead's having a meltdown in the arena because his buddy broke out, and now he wants to be free, too. As I finally catch up to Zzari and reach under his mane to lead him back into captivity, I look up and see what appears to be a forest fire starting up east of us on this dry, windy afternoon.

And it's here that I want to say this: even though I wasn't raised country, I've spent half my life doing the rural living thang. So I think I've earned the right to say that, at least for today, I totally fit this profile.

Monday, May 23, 2011

the ghost ship that didn't carry us (or, I love Sugar)

I just do.

Can I be frank?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Gah - I sometimes go way too long without updating this blog. I'm only doing so now because the wonderful kids and man are taking care of dinner prep tonight.

I hope it's been a great day for all, Moms and their kids alike. I know I feel like one lucky woman. We all know nothing's perfect, but, on balance, I have been inordinately blessed in both the mother and the kid departments.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Arabian Breeders World Cup - Las Vegas 2011

Vegas is...well, it's Vegas. And it's pretty much anything you want it to be depending on who you're with, where you're staying and how you choose to spend your time and your bucks.

Vegas is also only a few hours away from my house, which makes it an accessible weekend getaway spot. I had extra incentive this past weekend when the Arabian Breeders World Cup Show - a relatively new venture in the Arabian show world - was held. I've been wanting to check out this shindig since it first started, and it did not disappoint. I consider this more of a "boutique" show than, say, Scottdale, since it's basically a celebration of halter horses, and the crowd numbered in the hundreds rather than the thousands on Saturday afternoon. It also spans just a few days, rather than a couple of weeks as Scottsdale does.

There sure were some pretty horses, though. Just breathtaking, really.

There was also a nice international look to the spectators, including some truly Sartorialist-worthy fashion.

All in all, it was a lovely way to pass the time, and I plan to return (hopefully) next year.

feel-good song for a Monday in April

Of course, it's all over the airwaves right now, but who cares? It's a good'un, and with the number of views it's already had, it clearly resonates with people.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

not by a long shot

This is okay:

I mean, cute dog, cute cat... What's not to love, right?

This, however.
This is most definitely NOT okay:

Yes, that's my name on the address label. Not "Dear Neighbor" or "Our Dear Friend at..."

I will say this, though: at least they're offering that puzzles & games booklet to help keep my mind sharp.

Now where did I put those damn dentures?

Monday, March 28, 2011

iTunes Songs for Japan

What a cool way to add 38 songs to your iTunes library and donate to the earthquake relief at the same time! The ten bucks you pay for this collection goes straight to the Japanese Red Cross.

Good job, iTunes. Mine's downloaded already.


Monday, March 21, 2011

not without a fight

Today is the first full day of Spring, and I'd be doing my Snoopy dance at this very moment if I hadn't looked out my window this morning and seen this:

I think Winter has decided it's worth dying on this hill. I know, I know. I need to lighten up, or, Erleichda, as Tom Robbins might advise. And I can always remind myself that at least it's not as cold as it was one morning in the heart of winter, when I woke up before dawn to drive down the road and visit my favorite tree.

Friday, March 18, 2011

pre-spring free verse-y blog post

Wake up to a quiet house, temporarily kidless, and itching to clean and organize - not unlike pregnancy nesting, but a spring thing this time. Start in the kitchen, then add other rooms until there's a harmony and a rhythm working. But what am I doing, I think. It's gorgeous outside! And so Lizzie the Cowdog and I take the show out there where the horses watch, needing their own spring cleaning (shelter mucked, winter coats stripped, water tank scoured, and on and on). The Pink Trailer calls, and so I answer. Throw open the door and behold an eternity's worth of stuff needing to be dealt with, some of it hard - the rocking pony from daughter's toddler years, boxes of old divorce documents and lots of stuff probably best Goodwilled, but I have a hard time letting go sometimes. (The rocking horse stays. Period.) Hours pass, and they looked like this: me hauling the Rubbermaided (Rubbermaidened?) evidence of years already lived from the trailer to the woodshed; me going through the drawers and cupboards and closet of the trailer, seeing what's there (old coffee perkpot, old laundry clips, old flatware, all of it charming) and dreaming of camping trips at nearby lakes this summer, checking out the tires, eyeballing the ancient suspension, more formless pondering. Scrub the trailer's innards then stand back, pleased. Trees need attention next (from whence this energy?) - the liquidambar and the quaking aspen planted last fall, plus the live spruce from Christmas, still babies all. Settle the spruce into its new hole (chicken wire-lined against our looky-loo prairie dog neighbors). The hose is dragged out next so all can get a deep, late-winter watering, even though it doesn't feel like winter anymore the way I'm sweating. Aiming the hose at new roots I look up startled by sound of an eagle's cry overhead. Turns out there are two of them - adult bald eagles - swooping and swirling in the sky above my house, either courting or battling in a falling spiral, but whatever it is it's extraordinary, an extraordinary gift. Even Lizzie the Cowdog stares up at them, head cocked, ears up. We're frozen at the sight, and as I stand there with sweat on my back and my hands covered in water and dirt I realize that a) we're done for the day, and b) we're just getting started.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

for girls only

So, a girlfriend and I were talking about That Time of the Month Which Shall Remain Nameless (TTOTMWSRN) and how we know every month, without fail, when it's approaching.

Is it when we offer to remove the grocery store bagger's face for putting the bananas in the same bag as the paper towels?

Is it when the sight of an empty email inbox makes us go back to bed and weep for an hour straight?

Or do we know TTOTMWSRN is imminent when we find ourselves (note how I deftly hide my identity by using the collective "we") standing in front of the microwave with a wooden spoon full of brownie batter in one hand while waiting for our salty, salty microwave popcorn to finish popping?

Men, I tried to warn you.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


It's what Get Low is about.

And, can I just say, movies like this - stories like this - are the reason I keep writing. They're the reason I still try.

Of course, it never hurts when Robert Duvall is the leading man.

Monday, February 28, 2011

mixed blessings

The man brought home a big bag of takeout food from Flagstaff’s yummy Pato Thai last night, and that's what I had for breakfast. Seriously, the Tom Ka coconut milk soup is something of a wonder, though I was skeptical the first time I had it.

In other news:

My son’s dog was attacked by two big bully dogs while we were out for a run the other day. Bums me out that the owners a) didn’t even bother to walk three doors down to see how she was doing afterward, and b) don’t bother to address the problem and properly restrain their dogs even after several other incidents involving said dogs in the neighborhood. People suck sometimes. Lizzie’s okay, by the way.

A neighbor came by this weekend with a carton of 18 nummy eggs from her fat hens. Traded 'em for soap. There’s nothing like the taste of farm-fresh eggs, and I’ll use these for everything from breakfast to dessert.

Oh, and even though the pow pow’s extremely cool for skiing and snowboarding, I am officially tired of being cold. So, here’s a special note to Winter: I’m breaking up with you. Everything you own in the box to the left.

And it’s not me – it’s you.

:-p   pttthhhhht

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Angel Heart Farm

While down at the Scottsdale show, I enjoyed perusing the creations of and buying a few prints from Arabian artist extraordinaire, Shary Akers. We chatted for a bit about her art, our horses and being a vendor at shows (which is something I'm familiar with from years of selling handmade soaps). Our chat turned to artistic inspiration, and, in particular, artistic kids. I told her about my son, who can regularly be found mid-sketch, and Shary graciously autographed a print of "The Black" for my kids.

As we chatted, I noticed a little sign she had by the cash register asking for donations (no amount too small) for something called Angel Heart Farm. I asked her about it, and she told me about a woman she knows in Kentucky who devotes her life to bringing terminally ill children and horses together. If you have nothing better to do for the next five minutes, do yourself and your soul a huge favor and check out the short video on Angel Heart's homepage. I dare you to remain unmoved.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

scottsdale all-arabian horse show 2011

February usually equals cold, wind and snow here at 7,000 feet, which generally makes it a blissful time to head down to the Valley of the Sun for a little sunny R&R. I've been doing it off and on since the early 90's when I moved to Arizona, but I have to say, this was one of the coldest weekends I've ever spent down there. Still, the reasons to get out of Dodge were numerous, so down we went.

First timers to Westworld, where the show is held every year, can't help but catch their breath a little when they come upon the bronze Arabians at the entrance:

Once inside the entrance tent, you're greeted by wall to wall booths full of amazing art and saddles and bling, and it's almost too much to take in:

Due to the rain and the wind this year, the covered warm-up arena was packed. Halter classes were actually being held in the outdoor warm-up, which makes me think Wendell Arena must have been a mess:

Inside the Equidome, though, it was business as usual. I never got an official entry count, but classes were decent sized, and there were lots of spectators there for the long weekend:

The mare halter classes on Saturday night were awesome. For me, it was all about the greys this year. So many breathtaking beauties:

Before heading back up to the snow and our own fuzzy four-leggeds, we got to see one of the benefits of all that rain: