Sunday, February 28, 2010

Welcome to Phoenix!

Welcome to the final round of the Phoenix Open and 2010 Spring Training! It happens like clockwork a lot of years. People flock to town for sun and warm and what do they get?

Last one in the pool's a rotten egg! : )

P.S. 48 degrees and light rain!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Routine Maintenance

Everyone at our house has been undergoing routine maintenance. It all started with Saby and her surgery last week. She's doing great now except for the I.V. spot on her leg that she's been licking. Yesterday, we played the Little Rascals nurse scene, and I wrapped her leg with an Ace bandage to try and avoid her having to wear a cone on her head. I know she'd HATE being a Conehead. The tumor they removed was benign. and they cleaned her teeth while they were in there. I wish my teeth looked that white after they were cleaned! They are pearly white!

Then there's Craig. He's always had perfect distance vision, but noticed lately that his store bought cheaters just weren't doing it for him anymore. He couldn't see the television at home as well, not to mention problems with staring at his laptop all day. Bigger television screens didn't solve the problem, so it was time to bite the bullet! He had an eye appointment Wednesday night and ordered two pairs of glasses -- one pair of no-lines for everyday use, and one pair with office lens. Those are fairly new and not just reading glasses. They're specially designed for staring at computers without having to tilt your head up to read the screen, and they also allow you to see about 10 feet across the room clearly.

The house females were both in need of hair maintenance. I went for the color job yesterday, and Saby underwent maintenance by Doggy Do in a van on the driveway this morning. That's the first time someone's come to her, and she loved it! When Shelli brought her back into the house, Saby tried to leave with her. I think she wanted to ride around in the Doggy Do van all day barking at other dogs! HA!

She's been wild and crazy since the groomer left, running patterns all over the house and ripping the stuffing out of her babies! Not bad for a 10-year old gal.

This afternoon, I'm headed to the optometrist for a checkup and some new glasses. I'm actually hoping my cataracts have progressed. I'd love to start all over again with perfect vision! I'm looking forward to that, but I've probably got a few more years to go.

After that, we'll be almost fixed up (except for the fact that I need to get bloodwork and my annual checkup). Aaaargh. I'm a procrastinator.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Catch 22

I schlepped into the sweatshop yesterday afternoon after spending most of the day Tuesday going over U.S. history, government, and geography. Reading an encyclopedia from the library, taking little quizzes on line, etc... By the way, I can now ace the U.S. Citizenship quiz. I thought it was some kind of misunderstanding that I'd been told to take the test in the first place since it's out of my subject area, but I thought maybe they were just looking for people who had a normal mastery of the subjects. K-12 social science? Usually, the tests are kind of a screening tool to eliminate people who really aren't suited for it and aren't terribly difficult.

Well, the test was definitely college level and mostly covered economic theory, geology, and literary analysis of works by authors from Plato to Fitzgerald to Sinclair (WHAT???). As an after thought, they included a tiny smattering of questions that actually pertained to what they said the test would be -- U.S. History, Civics, and Geography! But even those questions were brain twisters! They evidently were suffering from the misconception that they're recruiting from a local pool of Jeopardy winners and/or retired college professors. The test was one of those where you emerge and have absolutely no CLUE how you did! Honestly, most of the test was a complete guessing game. The company receptionist told me on the way out that most people were emerging from the building with puzzled shocked looks on their faces. I'm sure she noticed my deer in the headlights look!

If I'd had any sense at all, I would have pulled a Sarah Palin! LOL

But seriously, here's the catch. I was fairly bamboozled when I turned in the test. What happens if I got lucky and guessed enough right answers? Or if I got more answers right than all the other people sitting there scratching their heads (among other body parts). Several people just turned in their almost blank test sheets after trying to reason their way through the first page of questions, but I was afraid Personnel Lady would give me an F on effort and vote me off the employment island. But now I'm wondering if that wouldn't have been the prudent choice! A lot smarter than going through the misery of being assigned to a job where you feel like the biggest loser because you really don't know the subject matter?

Here's the punchline. I looked at my email late last night and there was an offer for the project. I guess now I'll find out?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't Know Much!

Ugh! I spent today reviewing U.S. History, Civics, World Geography, and a lot of other STUFF! All so I can take a test tomorrow for a project I may or may not want. Geography used to be my strong suit -- OMG! I know the U.S. like the back of my hand, but why do they keep renaming all these countries?!!! LOL I'll keep you posted. I can't believe I knew all this stuff at one time! : )

Quote for the day:

We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.
- Joan Didion

Monday, February 22, 2010

Some Rainy Day Fun!

What do you do on a rainy day in Phoenix when the wind is howling and everyone's dashing for cover? I wandered into an antique mall and spent a few hours. I saw some really cool items this trip!

Look at this lamp made out of this old pottery planter!

These are hilarious! Instead of wine charms, they're little 60's dolls in bikinis that perch on the edge of cocktail glasses!

I was looking for a round wicker table to go on the other side of our bed. This is a small wicker desk. Close, but not cigar! But maybe?

I keep looking at these old typewriters because my Grandma Bowman had one that sat on the end of her dining room table. She did all of her correspondence with it instead of writing. I suppose it was easier on her arthritic fingers.

I was in the antique mall so long, I actually ordered a hot dog. The Little Weinie. It was more bun than dog, but not bad. The hot dog restaurant in the antique mall, Willy's, does a booming business. I notice a lot of workmen coming in for lunch.

Look at these cool vintage spools of suede cord! I thought of Jana and her seaglass pendants. I may have to go back and get the turquoise spool. All of them were $5 and that seems really cheap considering what you'd pay for the same at a bead supply store.

And these are the origin for dark blue cobalt seaglass!

I think I'll have to make a trip back for this little wheelbarrow too! I took photos as I went through the store, and then didn't realize what I forgot to get until I loaded them onto the computer!

Cool old watering can sitting on a cute little wicker table. The table wasn't big enough for the side of our bed, but it's cute!

Some little lady's missing her purty pink cowboy boots!

This is a highly unusual garden antique! It's the front end of an old Ford tractor! At least I THINK that's what it is!

A cool collection of souvenir glasses from the 60's!

I was tempted by these too! Vintage beads!

Look at this cool old washboard. It appears to have someone's name and town on it. The scrubbing part is made of frosted pleated glass. Very nice!

And here we have a genuine Italian accordion in an old leather case. I think the keys were mother of pearl?

Okay, this doll is SPOOKY!!! Google eyes! Looks like she has cataracts!

Cute set of apple dishware!

And look at this cute little white side table! Too small for my purposes, but just adorable!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Yesterday was cool, cloudy, and a little rainy here in Phoenix. So much for desert sun -- it felt like Seattle! So we nested indoors. Last night while we were watching the Olympics, I made a bracelet from leftovers beads. I tear a lot of them apart after I make them because I end up finding fault, but I think this one's a keeper! The colors remind me of the cool waters of the Caribe.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Saby's been a little irked with me this week. I've been the 'go to' person for taking her to and from vet appointments. First it was shots and her physical, then Monday she had her pre-op appointment where they did her bloodwork to make sure she was fit enough for today's surgery. She expresses her displeasure with all this by facing away from me. Michael suggested that I find someone else to drop her off today so she wouldn't associate me with the procedure. Good suggestion, but not practical since the person in charge had to sign the papers and go over everything.

I wish I'd gotten a photo last night of the look she gave us when she discovered her food bowl was missing from its normal place. She loves to eat right before bedtime despite the fact I've told her over and over it all goes to the hips. She just stood and stared at both of us with a disgusted look on her face. Craig suggested just one little pre-op snack, but I had to say no.

We took her for a ride in the car last night because I was afraid I'd never get her into it this morning since every ride lately has been to the vet's. I guess she always wants to believe she's going someplace special because she hopped right in this morning and enjoyed the ride. Even at the vet's office, she never seems to recognize what's coming until we enter the doors.

Hopefully, this will be her last trip for awhile. I had to sit and sign all the papers this morning and go through all the scenarios. I remember doing this before an exploratory surgery I had ten years ago, and it was just as frightening for me when it was Saby. Hopefully, the tumor in her mouth will be benign and this will be the end of it. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I think I've been watching too much HGTV -- specifically Househunters International -- and the Travel Channel lately. I've started to accumulate a list of dream destinations. It seems like we don't have the time to explore them now since our vacations together are limited to a week, but it's my Bucket List for retirement a few years down the road. Here are some of the destinations I've bookmarked so far.

The Corn Islands off the coast of Nicaragua look like our kind of place. I love these photos from one of their travel sites.

A $5 lobster dinner on a Corn Island beach.

This beach on Little Corn truly looks like paradise!

Another destination in our sights is Panama. Specifically Bocas del Toro off the coast of Panama. Panama looks amazing. It wasn't really on my map until I saw Anthony Bourdain's special on Panama on the Travel Channel. Some friends had actually purchased a couple of homes in Panama, and that fact puzzled me until I saw that special and a feature on Househunters International. So Panama's definitely on that Bucket List for the near future! Love this video from YouTube!

This resort on Bocas del Toro has cottages out over the water. Heaven!
I've saved this VRBO listing as a favorite on my toolbar. Hopefully we'll get there!

For now, Isla Mujeres remains a quick and safe destination we both enjoy. Craig's looking forward to swimming with those whalesharks and doing some fishing in July. I'm looking forward to that warm July water when I can just swim for hours on end. Ahhhhhhh.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Beautiful Day!

I try to not brag too much about the great weather here when I know other parts of the country are snowbound, but sometimes I can't help myself! Yesterday was beautiful. Sunny and a high in the upper 70's.

After taking Saby on her morning walk and doing chores, I headed out to run some errands with all the windows down on the Bug! All the shopping areas have big containers of beautiful flowers. Petunias like this are plentiful in the winter.

This shiny bike was parked out in front of Walmart. What a day for a spin!

It was too nice to sit indoors, so I took my book outside for awhile. I'm currently into Olive Kitteredge.

I planted myself in one of the Adirondacks. I found these last year and Craig put them together and finished them for me.

The sun quickly got too hot, so I moved over to the covered patio. I decided to bring my box of tricks outdoors and make a watch. I spent a couple of hours putting this one together while Saby sunbathed.

The forecast for today is more of the same! If this keeps up, all the tourists coming down for spring training should love it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fruit of the Vine!

Well, not fruit from a vine, but fruit from tiny citrus trees!

Remember my fruit trees and how I had no clue what kind of citrus each one was? Well -- we were out doing yard work on Sunday and I decided the three trees needed trimming. The limbs on all three are headed down towards the ground rather than up towards the sky.

When I started trimming the low hanging limbs on the largest tree (all three are still what I would call five gallon trees), I found these hidden inside the branches. I left four more on the tree to see if they get any larger.

Yesterday, I cut one open and ate it for breakfast. It was a little like trying to cut the meat off a partridge leg with a knife and fork (been there, done that in a gourmet restaurant), but the grapefuit was surprisingly good! Our first edible bounty from the citrus trees!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Guadalupana Fire

For anyone who reads my blog and isn't familiar with the various Isla Mujeres message boards, a tragic fire took place Friday night in the new Colonia Guadalupana on the island. The video above shows the aftermath. The last total I heard was that 18 homes burned. These are people with very little who lost everything.

A friend who designs gorgeous seaglass jewelry to sponsor a student's college expenses on the island is now donating all her proceeds to the cause to help those people left homeless. Please take a look at her designs on her Etsy site -- Silver Moon Gallery. She has beautiful necklaces, bracelets, bookmarks, wineglass charms -- all sorts of goodies!

While I plan on taking some donations down to the island on our next trip in July, these people need help sooner than that. I decided I'd just donate money directly. In addition to donating the proceeds from her jewelry sales, Jana also graciously offered to act as a go-between to get money donations to the La Gloria English School on Isla where they are helping coordinate the effort. I made a quick donation today to the cause by using her PayPal account.

So please consider buying some of Jana's beautiful jewelry or donating money to the victims of the Guadalupana fire.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Feel Lucky!

I was the mom who actually left the phone off the hook when my son was in kindergarten. His teacher was constantly calling to report the latest infraction (throwing a kid's mittens over the fence, kicking sand at someone, etc...), and the woman seriously had me thinking he'd end up in prison. That was all finally resolved by the school psychologist who deemed him perfectly normal and told the teacher to start observing the kids who were picking on him, but it left an impression on me for life. When he was growing up, I was always waiting for the other shoe to fall! The phone would ring and I would immediately think something was wrong.

So, when a woman called yesterday morning and asked me if I was Mike's mom, I thought what the heck! Oh noooooo! The woman went on to say she and her husband had met him in Carmel on his birthday. She wanted me to know what a wonderful son I had, and she wanted to verify his address from his business card so she could send him a selection of wine as a treat! OMG! After I got off the phone, I quickly looked up the area code and it was the Napa Valley. Hmmmmm.

When Michael called last night to give me the rundown on his work (fun) in Carmel, I told him about my phone call. He said the woman owns a winery in the Napa area and he had met her and her husband at the bar in Carmel where he and his coworkers were watching the Super Bowl and celebrating his birthday. At the bar, he'd also won the Super Bowl field goal competition. We had a good laugh over that because he was the kid who never kicked anything but a soccer ball, and gave that up in middle school for golf.

Around dinner time, I made a Walmart run to pick up something for my dinner. When I saw Paradise Bakery, I decided to ditch cooking and treat myself with a chicken artichoke panini. When I got to the cash register, I handed the woman my Paradise Bakery club card to get my points. She informed me that their system was down, so they were comping the meal for people with cards because they couldn't give them credit for their transaction. I think my mouth hung open for a few minutes because I couldn't figure out the logic on that one. (Can you imagine if the airlines did that? A free flight when their system's down and can't register your mileage number?) Anyway, the clerk wrote down the number on my club card and that was it! No tax -- nada!

Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch!

On my way out the door with the free bag of food, it suddenly hit me that this must be my lucky day! I should have stopped at the 7-Eleven on the way home to buy lottery tickets, but I was hungry. So I sped home, snarfed my free gourmet panini and the chocolate chip cookie that came with it, and watched the first episode of the new Survivor season!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Little Surprise

There's something a lot of people from more northern climes don't understand about Phoenix. When we used to visit, I'd be very discouraged when we hit cool, windy and even rainy weather in December through February. The resort hotel pool would be heated, but it was dang cold to try and swim in it. I'd pack my shorts, crop pants, and sandals and end up freezing. Somehow, I'd always just think we hit a bad spell. I'd go shopping thinking I'd snag some shorts and summer clothes on sale and be shocked to see winter wardrobes on the racks. I thought -- who the heck would buy this stuff down here?

What I didn't understand then is that Phoenix actually has a winter. It's not a tropical climate! I didn't fully understand that until I moved here! I was so disappointed that first winter when I saw the beautiful flowering shrubs in the neighborhood turn brown.

Overnight temps from December through February dip down into the 30's and 40's and even below freezing, so blooming shrubs often look a little or lot worse for the wear. The green grass of summer has to be torn up and overseeded with rye in order to be green in the winter months. Blooms freeze and fade, and trees lose their leaves, looking like a fall landscape in colder climates. The first winter we lived here, we literally lost almost every plant and tree in our yard due to hard freezes down into the teens.

All the flowering shrubs in my yard look semi-comatose right now, so I was surprised yesterday when I saw this in my backyard!

The bottlebrush has pretty red blooms on it!

So -- it's time to get out in the backyard and start trimming and fertilizing! I can make the annual trip to the nursery to replace the plants that didn't survive the winter. And I guess it's also time to stock up on the Bengay!

I think we're supposed to be back into the 70's next week. It'll still be another month or so before I permanently put the long pants and long-sleeved tops away, but we're getting there!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Big Hunk of Junk

My big hunk of black seaglass has become the butt of jokes on a certain message board, so I thought I'd defend it here on my blog. Ha! Craig found the piece back in October on Isla Mujeres. Now I can't be sure if he picked it up from our claim, or if he was pirating from Jana's, but I told him to throw it back. But he insisted, so I told him he could carry it home when he left the island because I didn't want to lug an ugly piece like that.

It's rare, but it does occasionally happen. He was right! That ugly chunk of junk was actually kind of a rare find. Reading through my new Pure Seaglass, by Richard LaMotte, after Christmas, I was astounded by what I read about black glass. Actually, Craig read it first and waved it in my face. To quote from the book:

Finding black glass should be considered fortunate, since it can often be presumed to be glass made prior to 1900 for beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. In many cases, the use of black glass bottles waned heavily by the mid-to late 1800s.

La Motte goes on to explain that iron slag was added to the glass to help create the color, which made the bottles resistant to breakage. And that is why black is often found in large pieces rather than small rounded pieces.

And here we have a large chunk from the end of a black bottle.

In the book, black glass is listed as a one in 2500 piece find!

I guess Craig was a lucky dog! I'm starting to anticipate my next seaglass hunt on Isla. I know we'll have to get up early with the birds to avoid the heat and beat our rivals to the claim. Ha!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Some Odds and Ends

I have blogger malaise. I'm wishing I was somewhere else right now, and a lot of you can guess where! I think I'll just post a few photos that I've overlooked from my November 2009 trip to Isla Mujeres. I don't think I've posted them before because they are odds and ends, but if I have -- oops!

Here we have Moses's shoe/foot. The man is quite a character. He saw me snapping photos of doors on Juarez across from his shop and insisted I take a picture of his shoe to take to the grandkids back home. (No grandkids here!)

I love this altar. It's next to a small tienda out in the colonias.

This little guy really wanted his photo taken, but was too cool to look at the camera. I was trying to get a clear shot of the Poc Chuc menu board and he just stopped and wouldn't move. Ha! If I had an email for him, I'd send him his picture!

I really like this man. Maybe someone will recognize his knees and remind me of his name! Anyway, Sancocho's keeps a rubber rat behind the counter and he plays with one of the stray cats! The cat is really spooked by the rat, but finally swipes at it. I wish I had a couple of Sancocho's mole enchiladas for lunch today!

I like the way the palms are leaning in this photo. It was taken in front of Maria del Mar on one of many stormy days towards the end of my trip.

You all know about my obsession with gates and doors. I noticed this gate on my way back from Playa Norte one day. I think it probably leads into the old Cabanas del Prado area. I should have walked in and taken a look!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Weekend Update

Saturday was work. We got up early, walked Saby, and then came back to take on the front yard. I trimmed shrubs and Craig mowed. With that done, we decided to get the new television set up in the armoire. We found two young strapping male neighbors to help Craig move the old one out, and then proceeded with getting the new one online.

What should have been easy turned into a three hour hassle. After following all the setup instructions, everything worked except for our existing surround sound. So we called the Costco Concierge service for advice. OMG. After another two hours of trying to follow the help line guy's ridiculous instructions, we ended up with a terrible picture and no surround sound. We came to the conclusion that he had very little knowledge after he told me to set the sound selection to SAP (Spanish?) and left us with a black and white picture from the DVD player. He then handed us over to a Sony technician whose main mission was to try and assess blame onto our existing equipment. He got frustrated and basically told us goodbye. Long story short, Craig rehooked all the cables into the original configuration and I managed to fix the sound and picture by changing options in the television menu. Aaargh. Mission accomplished.

After all that, we decided to just veg out on Sunday. Take a walk, go eat pizza, and come back and watch the Super Bowl.

Oregano's has the best pizza in town. We ordered the Numero Uno with thin crust, ate half, and saved the rest of the pie for a Super Bowl snack.

In addition to great pizza, Oregano's has a funky pizza parlor ambience.

I'm not a big football fan, but the Super Bowl was an exciting game with some funny commercials. Here's one of my favorites!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

One Pot Pasta

I was strolling the aisles of a local grocery yesterday trying to figure out what to make for dinner. It's a small store that specializes in fresh natural foods. I saw some great sweet Italian sausage and that triggered the taste buds. One Pot Pasta!

The original recipe came from my mother and it was called One Pot Spaghetti. The list of ingredients read like a Midwestern 1970's casserole with hamburger meat, cheddar cheese, and chili powder. Kind of a strange takeoff on an Italian meal. I've modified the recipe to suit our tastes, but the concept remains the same -- a quick dinner in one pot.

The ingredients are easy to find.

1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can water
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
2 crushed or chopped cloves garlic
1 packet spaghetti seasoning
Dry pasta of your choice
Grated parmesan or mixed Italian cheeses

When I shop for the ingredients, I usually pick up whatever's on sale. Yesterday I used a Private Selection (Safeway's private label) sphagetti sauce with basil and garlic, Italian style diced tomatoes with spices added, sweet Italian pork sausage, and a small package of penne rigata. I also make the recipe with chicken Italian sausage.

Brown the sausage, onions, garlic, and peppers in a large pot. Degrease and add 1/2 packet or more of the spaghetti seasoning. Dump in the jar of spaghetti sauce, can of tomatoes, and dry pasta. Then add a 14.5 oz can of water for extra moisture to help cook the pasta. Turn up the heat and you're cookin' with gas!

Cover the pot and stir it occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom. It usually takes around a half hour for the pasta to cook and all the sauce to meld. Last night, Craig was running late getting home, so I ended up adding a little more sauce from another jar in the fridge and some extra water.

The original recipe called for the cheese to be added into the pot, but we just garnish ours when it's served. I like the three cheese, parmesan, romano, and asiago variety, but any parmesan will do!

What I love about this recipe is that there really is just one pot to clean! No strainers, pasta pots, skillets, etc.... And with only two of us at home, we have leftovers for lunch or another dinner. (And I think the leftovers taste even better!)