Tag Archives: Arizona

It’s been a while….

Cruising Alaska

Cruising Alaska

You may have thought that I never made it home from Alaska but I’m back!! Since late June, that is. When summer in NH was just making its appearance, we returned from the trip of a lifetime. Or not. It seems as though we say that about every trip that we take–Hawaii, Alaska, and, next summer, a 17-day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest!!

Glaciers, whales, panning for gold (our $17 worth is locked away in our safe), a train trip to the Yukon, Denali Mountain (we were sad to be among the 70% who don’t see it), the Red Onion Saloon (unable to elaborate as this is a G-rated

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

blog), wildlife (a dead porcupine strapped to the top of a car), forest fires (smoke was overwhelming in Fairbanks), an earthquake–we experienced it all on our cruise/land tour of Alaska! Despite all of this–or maybe because of it–we loved our time in Alaska. We have 1,000+ pictures to prove it.

We met interesting people from around the world, mainly by asking if we could take the two empty chairs at their lunch table. Our dinner mates were two brothers and their spouses from Michigan. Last week we returned from an Adrenal Cancer Symposium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, spent a night with one of the couples, and went out to dinner with all four of them. It was as though we had just left Fairbanks a few days ago.

The Adrenal Cancer Symposium was amazing. Over 200 doctors, researchers, and patients came together to learn about the latest developments in diagnosing and treating this rare, orphan disease. We became acquainted with many of the patients and advocates attending, all of us with unique stories about the disease we share. Dr. Gary Hammer, the amazing head of the University of Michigan’s Hammer Laboratory, managed to be everywhere during the symposium. I hope he is on vacation this week, somewhere with sunshine, waves, and an “all inclusive” band around his wrist!

We did enjoy the hot summer here with trips to Cape Cod, Ogunquit, and Rye Beach. Only managed to get our kayaks on Long Pond once. Didn’t make it to Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park, Nova Scotia/Prince Edward Island, or Martha’s Vineyard, but you have to stay home once in a while. Don’t you? Steve has given up on his motorcycle (anyone interested in buying a great Harley Davidson??) and is now obsessed with his 2004 soft-top Jeep Wrangler. And so am I.

Sad to report that I took the screens off the windows today. We’ve had a few killing frosts (19 degrees one morning) and the foliage has either turned a dull brown or has been blown to the ground. What I consider to be the best season in NH–summer–is over. My husband claims the best is fall. Neither one of us is a fan of winter (anymore? were we ever?) so we have decided to head out early this year and spend our first Christmas in Williamsburg (Colonial Williamsburg should be beautiful) then it’s off to Arizona for sunshine, blue skies, and dry heat.

If you’ve been following my writing group’s blog, Thursday Night Writes, you’ll know that I’ve kept up my writing but still struggle to complete any of my projects. NaNoWriMo starts up again November 1 (I was unsuccessful in reaching my goal in Camp NaNoWriMo in July) and I plan to participate. The gray days of November and a TV diet just might help me achieve my 50,000 words.

Guess you’re caught up….funny how you can condense an entire summer into fewer than 600 words!

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Fun and games in sunny Arizona

We had a blast with our friends from NH. The weather was spectacular and we justified revisiting some tourist attractions (we can’t get enough of Arizona!): Old Scottsdale, Tortilla Flat, the Apache Trail, San Tan Flat, and Usery Mountain Regional Park, to name a few.

Since their visit our main adventures have been to the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, an amazing

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

collection of ancient rock etchings, and to Lake Bartlett. We’ve also been busy finalizing our plans for our cruise/land tour to Alaska in June!!

Friday night we were entertained by Jerry Seinfeld at Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix. I’d been sick in bed for three days so it was a struggle to get there but well worth it. Laughter is healing after all.

It’s not all fun and games here in sunny (how many times do I need to say that??) AZ. I have attempted to find time to work on my writing though I won’t go so far as to say that I have done so successfully.

Christina Baker Kline’s two novels, “Orphan Train” and “The Way Life Should Be,” while both good reads, didn’t give me any ideas on tying the setting together for my three in progress novels. Anne Tyler’s “A Spool of Blue Thread,” has moved me in a different direction however. Instead of three separate novels it might make more sense to combine them into one novel. Tyler’s novel is multigenerational centered not only around the same community but also the same house. Houses play an important role in my novels as well. Lots to ponder…

Meanwhile I’ve been whittling away at my short story, “Jamie.” Going line by line. Arduous work. I’m envious of the way some members of my writing group unflinchingly absorb the critiquing of the group and manage to submit revision after revision. I can barely tolerate my own critiquing—it’s enough to justify the procrastination I am so adept at. After a little (lot??) more work, the challenge is to figure out how to submit the story to the group and receive real-time feedback while I’m in AZ.

Although it’s no replacement for my weekly writing group back in NH, I’m participating in a three week online writing group “Creative Monsters Club.” Our coach Marcy MacKay, of Mudpie Writing, is supportive and intuitive. Last week the two other participants on Skype were in Ireland and Saudi Arabia. I am curious to see where the two other participants this week will be from.

My NH writing group has created a blog for the group: Thursday Night Writes. (I’ve reposted the initial post by Eleanor Ingbretson in my previous post. It’s great!) I feel guilty that I am not there to help more. We have such diverse writing styles that I am anxious to see how it all comes together. I imagine that will be its charm. I’m not certain everyone realizes how much it takes away from your other writing time (at least that is my experience). Yet we need to do this to move forward as professional writers.

Super Bowl Sunday in Arizona!!

Steve at NFL Experience

Steve at NFL Experience

Yes, it’s finally here–Super Bowl Sunday! And all the hype you are seeing on TV (as well as the football game itself) is taking place right in the area of Arizona where we are spending the winter.

Steve, Joy, Paul, and the three kids have all gone to the NFL Experience in downtown Phoenix. It’s after eleven a.m. Arizona time–one p.m. Eastern time–and I’m still in my PJ’s. Life is good.

Paul tried for weeks to get tickets to the game but wasn’t able to. Turns out it’s a good thing as many people have flown here from Seattle and Boston only to find out that their tickets don’t really exist. Complex process of how the brokers sold tickets they didn’t possess–sort of like how short sales on the stock market happen is how I understand it. And the unfortunate thing is the weather has not even made up for their misfortune. We’ve had rain and cool temps–I don’t recall ever wearing my raincoat here in Chandler. Until this week, that is.

Once they return later this afternoon we’ll have our own Super Bowl party: shrimp cocktail, bean dip, dates stuffed with garlic cloves then wrapped in bacon and broiled (thank you, sister Andrea, for the recipe!), pigs in a blanket (just for you, son-in-law Chris!) and fresh-squeezed lemonade for the kids, Lemon Drops for the adults. I’ve set my picks for the NFL Challenge–of course I’m rooting for the New England Patriots!

On the recommendation of my niece, Debra, I read “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. Good book as it kept me up until 1 a.m. the first night I started reading it! It wasn’t the first novel that I’ve read about the orphan trains but part of this book took place in a fictional town on Mount Desert Island in Maine, which made it especially meaningful as it’s an area I love. (And I grew up in Bangor, which was also referenced in the novel.)

On my Kindle I always read right to the Copyright page and in this case I am especially glad that I did. I discovered that Kline has written another novel, “The Way Life Should Be,” that takes place in this same fictional town. I am anxious to read it to find out how she connects the two novels as my three “almost” novels also take place in the same fictional town and I’m trying to figure out how to make that work.

The sun is finally shining, the fog has lifted, and blue sky is peaking through the clouds. The real Arizona is starting to reappear. It is expected to be in the low 80’s and 100% sunshine starting the end of next week and lasting for the entire time our best friends, Gary and Maggie, are here from cold and snowy NH. Glad we could pull that one off!!

Finally writing!!

Made it to warmer weather and Arizona—it’s been in the 70’s during the day with yesterday and today the exceptions at a high of 67. This weekend is going to make up for the “cold snap” by flirting with 80. Yes, friends and family back in NH, I said 80. And it has been sunny every day, naturally. Two nights ago we did have sprinkles with a smile of a rainbow in apology.

Last night I finally garnered enough strength to start thinking about writing again. I realize

Finally writing!

Finally writing!

that writing is not a physical activity, not like football (go Patriots!!), but for me it still takes both mental and physical stamina to even attempt it. If only the act of opening the laptop weren’t so daunting, I might have completed a novel or possibly a short story by now. Completed means revised….not shitty first draft. I’m overloaded with those!

My writing group back home is starting a blog. I’m trying to participate via email but I’m not certain if I, someone who claims to be a writer, am conveying my ideas coherently. Being in contact, albeit through email, reminds me how much I miss my writing group. Without them I would be a reader not a writer.

Next Friday I have my first appointment with the same oncologist I saw here last winter. Amazing what a difference a year makes. Last year I was intimidated to see a new doctor. Possibly afraid. This past year I have spent hours on various ACC Facebook pages, learning while wondering if what I am doing is the right treatment. Should I continue with the Mitotane after two years without a recurrence even though it is negatively affecting my quality of life? That is where the fear enters. If I stop, will it come back? If I continue, am I damaging my body unnecessarily? A fellow ACC warrior back home died recently. I had spoken with her on the phone and via Facebook. She was diagnosed after I was, had surgery then opted for a natural treatment regimen instead of toxic chemotherapy. This is why I am torn between the two courses of action. I have started my list of questions for Friday, hopeful that I leave with answers and not more questions.

Busy time here in Phoenix—the 2015 Pro Bowl is this weekend, the Patriots arrive Monday (hopefully!), the Waste Management Phoenix Open Golf Tournament starts Thursday, and the Super Bowl is next Sunday!! And just think, I’ll be busy writing……relaxing in the sunshine…..drinking Lemon Drops made from freshly picked and squeezed lemons…..while the sports fans in the family are out doing their thing. (That is what you call “rubbing it in” just in case you didn’t recognize it!)

 

Westward bound!

Christmas Bonfire

Christmas Bonfire

We enjoyed the holidays and are now in Virginia with Jennifer and family on the first leg of our trip to Arizona. My favorite part of Christmas? For a few weeks being able to get up every morning, drink a cup or two of coffee, and watch the news with the Christmas tree lights plugged in. And, of course, I loved getting the tree at Windy Ridge with Elise and Sheffiled (even though it was bitter cold), watching the Blue School Christmas program in Landaff, hosting our Welch family celebration with Yankee Swap and bonfire (no singed eyebrows), opening presents with Jesse and family at breakfast Christmas morning, cooking dinner on Christmas Day, and celebrating a second Christmas with Jennifer, Jeff, Laurel, and Alex and my sister, Bessie.

What didn’t I like? Packing up to leave for a winter away and preparing the house to be vacant followed by a fifteen hour trip to Virginia. Apparently the Saturday after Christmas was a popular day for people to travel home from the holidays and for those pesky snow birds to head south!

While Jennifer’s girls were on winter break we took them to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum at Colonial Williamsburg. Sunday we toured Mount Vernon, a place I have wanted to visit for years. We chose the warmer day of the weekend to visit Washington’s home–it was in the 60’s with some drizzle and mud.  Imagine seeing the bed that George Washington died in! After our visit Jennifer researched his death and it appears that the doctors prior to his death removed the majority of his bodily fluids through bleeding, inducing vomiting, and giving him an enema. (George himself was

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

proponent of bleeding.) We wonder if their ministrations could have contributed to his death at sixty-seven. She also found out a lot about his ownership of close to 400 slaves. Unfathomable.

On our way home Jennifer surprised the girls with a trip north to the American Girl Store at Tysons Corner Center, where their dolls had their hair done. (Like a real hair salon!) I was slightly embarrassed to traipse through an upscale mall in my muddy jeans and shoes.

I hate to admit that this is the only writing that I have done since I “won” NaNoWriMo, aside from a writing exercise during my writing group and posting to an ACC Facebook page. That is one of my problems with NaNoWriMo–it depletes me of any desire to write. The holidays don’t help, either.

However, Williamsburg is the setting of a short story that I never finished and close to Tysons Corner (Alexandria) is where part of an unfinished novel is set. When I’m so close to those locations, I wonder if I should complete those projects. Or is deleting them from my computer the more humane approach?

Incredibly we start our trip to Arizona this coming Sunday. It never seems as though I get enough time at Williamsburg though this cold snap (Thursday might tie a record low at 26) does make me yearn for warmer weather…..

 

 

Say it isn’t so–60 years old???

This is one confused–and gorgeous–Christmas cactus! Apparently it thought it was more important to blossom for my 60th birthday than to wait for the holidays. I am thankful for it’s thoughtfulness! It also may be happy to finally be out of the green plastic pot it arrived in when I was recuperating from my surgery two years ago this month. I am thankful for all the love and support that has been showered on me these past two years and this cactus must know it.IMG_3184

Today the temps are supposed to be in the high 50’s–maybe we’ll hit 60 in honor of my birthday! Then the cold weather arrives (Siberian Express??)….just in time for our trip to NYC to see the Rockettes on Sunday with Joy and kids and Jesse and kids. Sad that Jen, Jeff and their girls can’t make it from Virginia but they (without Jeff) will be at Joy’s for Thanksgiving–awesome! Except Jesse and family won’t be there for the holiday….

It is getting harder and harder to get all 15 of us together at the same time. But Steve and I benefit from having our daughters spread out across the country living where we are delighted to spend time. Joy returns to Arizona right after Thanksgiving–I’m going to have a hard time keeping Steve off their plane and heading for the blue sky, sunshine, and 80+ degrees! We will be there soon enough but nothing is going to drag me away from Christmas in NH. (I’ve already put together the artificial tree for the porch.)

I’m eleven days into NaNoWriMo and participated in the NH region writing sprint last Saturday and Sunday evenings. I didn’t make it to midnight but added over five thousand words toward my 50,000 word count goal, which I’m determined to hit this year. Next week is my last memoir writing class and I’m struggling with what to write about for my final three page submission. After all, there’s a lot of material to pick from out of 60 years. (Let’s amend that to 56 years–not certain that I can conjure up anything from my first four years!)

About fifty years ago today I had a letter to the editor published in the Bangor, Maine newspaper about honoring our veterans on Veterans Day. The beginning of my writing career! At the time, my father was stationed at Dow Air Force Base (now closed) and it seemed important for me to focus on something other than my birthday. It still is. So Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans in my family–my father, Steve’s father, my sister, Bessie, Steve’s brother, Mike, and all our relatives who have served and are now gone. And thank you to all those family and friends who are currently serving our country, including Eric Reid and Ben Roy.

But it’s a dry heat…..

Time to get in the pool!

Time to get in the pool!

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the weather forecast in Arizona (not to rub it in to our friends and family back East), we hit 95 today, the first ninety degree temperatures of 2014. And it will last through Friday. It may even flirt with 100 degrees. But, as they like to say here, it’s a dry heat.

We just happen to be heading north to Las Vegas on Wednesday where it is forecasted to be much cooler–the low nineties. As I recall from my one and only visit to Las Vegas (granted, it was August), that is one hot city. And it just feels more like the desert than Chandler, Arizona does.

We are flying up for the night to see Elton John perform at Caesars Palace. A short one hour five-minute flight. Granted, we’ll miss the Hoover Dam experience by not driving up but the flight is free. (Thanks to my Southwest VISA card!)

I am so excited to show Steve Las Vegas. Not that we are gamblers or drinkers. OK–I could get addicted to the slots but I can depend on Steve to drag me away.

To prepare him for the trip, we watched “Last Vegas” via our Apple TV. Definitely worthy of an Academy award. NOT! But it was entertaining. It probably helps to be our age to appreciate the movie. The other day we actually “argued” about what day of the week it was–forgetting to check either our watches or our iPhones! I imagine our children are wondering if it is time to check out nursing homes but I can assure them it is way too early for that! (They all have guest rooms, don’t they?)

Have to admit we are enjoying retirement. I especially like playing Candy Crush (93 million people a day play it) and Words with Friends and reading as late as I want (Steve doesn’t even complain), which means sleeping as late as I want (again, no complaints), drinking a leisurely cup or two of coffee, going to lunch (Sunday it was San Tan Brewing Company–jalapeno bratwurst hash for brunch–almost as hot as the weather) and then heading out to wherever we want (after brunch it was WestWorld in Scottsdale celebrating Arizona Bike Week). Steve is painting and enjoying the weather.

We leave for Virginia next week, stopping in Albuquerque, Nashville, and Ashville along the way. Looking forward to spending time with Jennifer and family in Williamsburg, meeting up with the ladies from my writing group at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD, and visiting Joy and family in CT. And then HOME (after almost five months away) just in time for my CT scan at DHMC. Eighteen months to the day from my surgery for adrenal cancer. Fingers crossed!

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