Thursday, December 31, 2009


How many times have you said to yourself, "Gee, I must go shopping for socks at Safeway."

Sunny, 55 degrees and windy. Just the right temperature for the tall, skinny girl in a "barely cover your butt" skirt pushing her boyfriend(?) in a wheelchair. What do you suppose she takes off to keep cool when the weather here is 110? Don't let them tell you these Arizonans are not hardy. I'm sure her legs remain tanned all year round!

The other day at about the same temperature a year-round Arizonian commented on my lack of a coat. Yes, I said, but I'm wearing a T-shirt and long pants. Oh dear! I'm going to be very, very cold when I arrive in Minneapolis on Saturday.

Today's the last day of 2009. I retired about four, nearly five years ago. I am finally sleeping until 7:00 a.m. without guilt. As for 2010, I intend to continue sleeping until 7:00 a.m. without guilt. Beyond that, no other life improvements have sprung to mind requiring New Year's resolutions.

Just glanced down to see that Lily has been burying things in the yard again. That tell-tale muddy, brown nose gives it away every time. She makes me giggle. Perhaps I need to find more entertaining activities. Simple pleasures.

I don't shop for socks at Safeway, by the way, and wonder how many folks do. It's not the first place I would look for new socks, but there they are just in case.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coming home and resolving to do better

To be welcomed home by subzero temperatures - talk about a cool reception. Minneapolis is among the coolest.

All is in place for me to fly away from sunny and warm to sunny and frigid on Saturday. The doves are pretty much finished with my yard, although they return still on a daily basis to clean up the leftovers. Heard a thump on the window yesterday and wandered out to check. As I gazed at the lawn and noted the absence of doves, a single feather floated down from above. A few other feathers scattered around the yard told the story. Ok, one down, several hundred to go. Perhaps Mr. Hawk should call in more troops - institute a surge, so to speak.

Plenty of food and warm, happy times with my family over Christmas. Next step to again plan how to improve myself in the coming year. After some 70 years of carefully kept New Year's Resolutions, there's not much left to improve upon. Perhaps I should confer with friends and see where improvement is still needed . . . Or perhaps not! Friends wouldn't be friends if they dwelt a lot on our faults.

Perhaps I should revisit previous resolutions and 'fess up to the many that I didn't "carefully keep". I did quit biting my nails a long time ago, and I have pretty much kept my weight down, but there's still the issue of using profanity that crops up now and then. Year after year the same resolution. I could just give up resolving, but then I'd have to admit I'm already perfect. No one likes to hear that - and no one believes it either.

Seen in Phoenix

Red dress and sombrero pinned to the side of a cactus: Ouch!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

As the thunder rumbles and the rain pours down here in the Valley of the Sun, I think of my many wonderful friends in the north hunkering down for another blast of wind and snow. I do understand and, though I have no regrets about not enduring it with you, I send lots of sympathetic thoughts in your direction.

Meanwhile, here in the valley, my massive flock of doves continue to enjoy my grass seed, now even more as they happily peck out the little seedlings that have, against all odds, poked their way out of the ground. How do I know? Because there are these little beak sized holes in many places. Mr. Hawk drops by now and then, which I know because I hear a frantic flutter of wings and an occasional thump on the window as the doves escape very quickly from the threat. Eventually, however, the doves return having out waited Mr. Hawk. And the yard is greening up over in the area where the weeds have always had a pretty good root system in place.

We have had nearly a year of a new direction in this country. Many of us are disappointed in some of the compromises and accommodations that have been made. I, personally, am quite fed up with the negativism and the constant attacks on the party and the officials that the majority of our voters elected. Yet, I think we are short sighted - even I - in not remembering with gratitude where we were at the beginning of this year, and seeing honestly the progress that has been made. We expected miracles and we have seen a few. The miracles we have seen are not as extraordinary as we had hoped, but they have been miracles nevertheless.

President Obama is moving our country and in some ways, the world also, in a more positive direction. He leads us with patience and commitment and with thoughtful consideration of all opinions and options. I for one continue to trust his instincts and will continue to pray and hope. I expect a great Christmas without snow and a New Year of growing progress towards peace and prosperity. Ok - I'll admit that I've always been a little like Pollyanna, but there you have it.

May the peace and blessings of Christmas be with you all now and for the coming year and beyond.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My new friend, Mr. Hawk

The contest between the doves and my lawn continues, but last evening I heard a flutter of wings and glanced out the door to see a large hawk sitting on the fence. I did not see any doves. When the dogs chase them the doves perch on the wall and neighboring roof tops until we are diverted again. When Mr. Hawk visits, the doves disperse to far away places. One (I) might hope they would not return.

Alas, they have short memories. They are bird brains, after all. Today they are back, but at least once this morning I heard the rush of wings as they took off. Glancing outside, I noted the birds were out of sight. Mr. Hawk was not to be seen. My very own contest between the hawks and the doves. Who'd have thought I'd be rooting for the hawks?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Simple pleasures

My greatest joy these days consists of occasionally opening the sliding back patio door rather loudly and watching the flock of doves flutter frantically (ha) away. Such is the high excitement of my life. Today I shall remove the totally ineffective aluminum foil flags. The doves ignore them so I really don't need them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The joys of home ownership

Not just doves feasting in peace among the foil flags, I am enjoying the excitement of a leaky roof area. For a reasonable sum I can have that fixed tomorrow and, hopefully, be able to put off the re-roofing that is also needed. I shall be having a frugal winter and summer as I prepare for next year's exciting roofing project.

Strangely I find the yard without grass tends to hide foot hazards left by my canine friends. Washing off my shoes is special fun for my Yoyo (dog). She dashes in and out of the hose until she is thoroughly wet and, given my grass-less lawn, also muddy. Oh she's just so cute! It's time for our walk.

Doves chapter 2

Helpful advice about keeping the doves away: Put up little sticks with shiny aluminum foil flags on them. They see the flags move and the light reflect and they fly away. Sounded reasonable to me. No harm in trying.

Just sat down again from my quick peek at the back yard. What do you suppose I saw? Hundreds of doves grazing on what remains of my grass seed. The little aluminum flags? You might well ask. The doves were cuddled right up to them eating away without fear. Peaceful doves feasting. I have not just two turtle doves but two time two times twelve plus. Perhaps a partridge in a pear tree would help, but three golden rings would be more useful, assuming I could pawn them to buy more bird seed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Two plastic pink flamingos

Dressed in red and green - quirky - maybe, tasteful - no!

Older lady with thick thighs - dressed in tight camouflage shorts, with red and white plaid jacket over orange t-shirt. Tasteful - NO!

Home depot music with lady singer crooning "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas!" You're in the wrong place for that, honey! But, doesn't matter, as no one is listening anyway.

Bird Chasers?

My canine kids will scare up birds from their resting places in the bushes along our walk, but ask them to chase the flocks of doves now feasting on my newly sewn grass seed, and they have no idea what I'm talking about. Looking at me blankly and shrinking from any possibility of racing out the door after these avian invaders, I can't get them to understand that it's ok with me - even desirable - that they race out and chase them away. I know they would do that if they were already in the yard when the birds appeared, but it is not sunny and warm enough to entice them to stay out these days. Instead I stand at the corner of the house, arms crossed, feet comfortably planted in the stance of Mr. Clean (with hair) waiting to shoo them away. I'm now told that there is probably plenty of extra seed sown, so there should be seed left to in fact germinate. This assumes my dogs tearing around the yard don't totally mutilate the seedlings when and if they appear and the weather improves enough to encourage them to spend time out there in the sunshine.

Ok - I acknowledge that problems such as these are not a current concern for my friends in Minnesota, Iowa and parts north. Please know I sympathize with you - from afar.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Many things to ponder

As I today await the Sears TV repair crew to investigate why my TV can't find the cable signal that is attached to it and sits on the same TV stand with it (ok, maybe that's not relevant), I ponder. I've been in Phoenix less than a week, but some events have not turned out as I planned.

First, there was my church choice. I intended to attend a suburban parish, but half way through the service on Sunday, I looked around and thought, this is not the best place for me. People are friendly enough, but the congregation is a bit snazzy. Next Sunday I will attend The Cathedral downtown, where the congregation is more diverse and the atmosphere not quite so pristine. There are some rituals I've integrated into my worship that I miss in places where they are not common. We shall see.

Next, as I've mentioned before, the Vikings chose an unfortunate time to revert to haphazard and sloppy football playing. Enough said about that. I still enjoy being with my relatives most of the time.

Finally, being ever flexible, I'll be redirecting my spending priorities. There is that pesky leak in my roof that must be addressed, even though it leaks into the bathtub so harms nothing, and the yard is a major disaster area. Thus, the purchase of outdoor furniture and a grill will be postponed, I'm sure. I have changed much from the days when I bought whatever I wanted the minute I decided I wanted it. That was during the days when I charged everything because I had no money. Now that these purchases involve actually spending money immediately, and staying out of debt, it's a different story. I can get along without some things.

It's colder here in Phoenix before January than after. I remember visiting here in November many years ago. I was cold the whole time I was here. I'm thinking it would be better to come to Phoenix after Christmas. I can think of many reasons why that would work best, not the least of which is that I would be singing with St. Paul's in the annual Lessons and Carols event this coming Sunday. The down side of that schedule is today's expected 5-9 inches. Too late for this year, but I remain flexible.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is it me? or Cox? or the weather?

Having determined to hole up in my relatively warm home here while the rain nourishes our desert flora, I thought today would be a good time to hook up my new DVD player. Probably, I'm right - it is a good time to do it when nothing else is calling me to some activity I might in fact enjoy. After many, many minutes, actually, hours, of trying everything that I could understand from my not so vast knowledge and the various instruction guides and manuals, I'm now waiting to see if a recharge, or whatever it's called, from Cox will return me to my formerly happy life of cable television, while, hopefully, also allowing me to view DVD's on my screen. I live in hope, but not much.

Not exactly as I'd expected

Oh the agony! I was prepared to be a gracious host, behave modestly and conceal my desire to gloat when, alas, such a thoughtful, caring response became unnecessary. Not only did I not need to avoid gloating, I had to endure much gloating by beloved family members. Who would have thought it? Next time I will insist that we watch the game at their homes, so that I can run away when it becomes too painful, or possibly, maybe, hopefully, be a rude, gloating guest. Traditionally, I have never been a gracious loser, and a great tradition it has been. The Vikes are going to have to do a whole lot better when they play the Saints, or I will have to have a Vikings T-shirt burning. I am tentatively planning to hole up alone with a bag of corn chips and a large bottle of wine for that one.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My vase arrived in perfect condition

And it's lovely on my dining room table here. See picture.

Safe and sound and uneventful

Starting my trip of nearly 1800 miles with my cell phone, its Blue Tooth wireless piece, my GPS, my Kindle and my satellite radio, I felt quite modern and technologically "with it". I will say that my satellite radio was everything I had hoped for. Those vast miles of windswept sand and sagebrush in the northern parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas are much better endured in the company of NPR, a few symphonies, an occasional sports update on Tiger Woods' infidelities and some real jazz. Time passes much faster that way.

I almost regretted getting a room with a king sized bed in Oklahoma City. My cousin was out of town, so I was left on my own. There was so much room for all seven of us (six small canines and myself) that the next night they couldn't settle down in that relatively tiny queen sized bed in Albuquerque. All night one or two of them was either jumping off or jumping onto the bed, going under or coming out panting from under the blanket and occasionally suggesting by a tap of the toenails that it was time to go outside for a little fresh evening air.

I have never driven across Oklahoma without understanding the full meaning of the theme song of the movie of the same name. After enduring 202 miles of the truly strong and gusty winds across Okla and Texas, I laughed when a sign loomed warning of strong winds for the next 9.9 miles. Thanks, I thought, for the warning. And, no, the winds in that stretch were neither as strong nor as gusty as the previous 200 plus miles had been.

I reluctantly decided not to stop at the Jesus is the Lord rest stop, although the thought of being surrounded by the Lord in that special place along the highway did give me pause. All those huge trailers with these words splashed along their sides would surely give one a sense of security, would they not? Could it have been a truly blessed place, and had I irreverently passed up a blessed opportunity? Probably not.

My good fortune arrived at my driving up to familiar home here in Phoenix and settling in to enjoy the sunshine and the relatively warm weather. We're not exactly sunbathing here today, but a good, vigorous walk to and around the park have left me renewed and ready to tackle anew the vexing problem of how to direct my emails to Outlook through Cox Cable. Once that challenge is overcome, I shall head out to Costco for a supply of foods to keep me at home for meals in spite of the great eating places that surround me here. Those tempting calorie havens helped me to gain 15 pounds last year, a weakness I hope to overcome this year.