Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The above photo was posted in an article in The Arizona Republic on Sunday. The people in the photo are Neo-Nazis who have set up a base in the Arizona desert patrolling for illegal immigrants and drug traffickers. It's a natural! With Arizona's new illegal's law and its loose cowboy attitude towards guns, it didn't take long for the nuts to show up with their automatic weapons.
I'm astounded. I'm trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I live in a state where extremist militia groups, specifically Neo-Nazis, are being allowed to set up a patrol base on public land -- the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Any state I've lived in before would have presented a show of force to eradicate the thugs instead of viewing them as being helpful to an extent.
Here's a quote from the extremist group's website:
"all non-White immigration must be prevented," according to its website. "We demand that all non-Whites currently residing in America be required to leave the nation forthwith and return to their land of origin: peacefully or by force."
I think the quote speaks for itself. Personally, I'm more worried about running into these folks in the desert than I am illegal immigrants. I don't think we'll be heading out to the Sonoran Desert National Monument for a hike anytime soon!
Read the article. It's enlightening.
I'll be back from Chicago on Monday, hopefully with some new photos and tales from the trip!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Once in a blue moon, Craig talks me into going out for breakfast. When Michael was growing up, he and Craig always celebrated the week with a boys' breakfast out on Sunday mornings. Now Craig settles for a bowl of granola unless we're on vacation. So when I mentioned I had a craving for pancakes on Saturday night, he leaped on it. Pancakes at home wouldn't do! We were going out.
What better place for breakfast than Joe's Farm Grill! (We probably would have ended up there for lunch anyway.) It's close and we figured we could avoid the Sunday line if we arrived early. We pulled into the parking lot at 8:20 a.m. and sure enough, there was no line. I'd guess in Arizona, most people are either in church or sleeping it off on Sunday mornings. (Just kidding, but not?) Back in Washington State, the breakfast joints were packed all morning on Sunday's, but that state was not known for its church attendance and believers.
I ordered the pancakes with two sausage links so Craig could also get his pancake craving fulfilled. As expected, it was all good! But next time (who knows when that day will come), I'd probably order the fruit with the pancakes.
We drove out through the neighborhood, Agritopia. When we were moving to Arizona, we looked at these houses. We needed a finished product, and the only completed specs backed into the new San Tan freeway. Besides that, I thought the name was fruity. Agritopia? The homes were built to mimic the Craftsmen style of the early 1900's, complete with retro style kitchen cabinets, refrigerators, etc....
We look wistfully at these now because we love not only the bungalow styles, but also the large front porches, narrower streets, garages in the alleys, and small town feel. If, and that's a BIG if, we ever decided to downsize and stay in the Phoenix area, I might just want a smaller home in this neighborhood. After all, we could just stroll over to Joe's Farm Grill in the evenings and the neighborhood has its own community pool, so there wouldn't be that to maintain when we traveled.
This house is perfect for fall. It almost made me forget it was 105 degrees out and blowing hot dry dusty air.
This front porch with the hedges reminds me of the house across the street when I was growing up in Oswego, Kansas. I loved sitting in their porch swing in the evenings watching neighbors and the town pass by.
Oh well, it's a pipe dream, but something to consider if our house ever regains its value and we would decide to downsize and stay in Arizona!
P.S. Or, the more reasonable alternative is to just sell the house in Arizona, go buy the real old bungalow in a little town somewhere with a decent summer, use it as a home base/summer retreat, and spend the winters renting S.O.B. (south of the border). By jove, I think I've got a plan? Or at least another one of many. : )
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saby's original human was a guy who worked in the same place as our son. Actually, his wife had found her tied to a bench outside a QFC in Redmond, Washington with no water bowl. She got Saby water and then waited hours for someone to return. She finally took the puppy, leaving a note for the owner to call her if they wanted their dog. No one ever called. Long story short, bad times followed. The couple split, Saby stayed with the guy, and then he had more bad luck. In 2006, Saby ended up at our son's apartment until the owner could return to get her. Then one day in May, Michael called in a dead panic. The manager of his apartment building had given him the ultimatum that no dogs that size were allowed and she had to be gone by the next day. Michael couldn't find the owner or anyone else who would take her, so his only alternative was the Humane Society. We hadn't had a dog in years because we weren't home much, but told Michael to bring her over.
We were Saby's safe house until her owner could return to pick her up. Bad luck continued for him and we got attached to Saby. And then we decided to move from Seattle to Phoenix. Anyway, long story short, when we adopted her 4 years ago, we were told she was 4. That was a guesstimate, probably enhanced a little to make her seem more attractive. She was crippled and could barely walk, but that was supposedly due to an accident years before. Consistent daily walks and glucosamine soon had Saby back in decent shape. When questioned again about her age, the story quickly changed to 6-years old.
Finally, last week I again asked my son to find out her real age. On the phone, he confided that he remembered an adorable Chow mix puppy being around the workplace way back in 1998 (Michael was a senior in high school then). He admitted he thought she could be as old as 13. I was astounded by that figure and said surely not! Sure enough, after contacting her former owner, he texted me later to tell me Saby's 13.
But who knows? Maybe she'll end up being featured by Willard Scott on The Today Show. I wouldn't have guessed she was 13, so maybe she'll end up getting a tiny sombrero to go with her passport!
Friday, September 24, 2010
When I get back from the early October wedding in Chicago, Craig and I should take a weekend drive to a higher elevation where we can see some fall colors and feel the chill in the air. Maybe take a hike in our fleece!
The downside of Arizona is very little change in the seasons. The upside is that we're still taking nightly swims in the pool and wearing flip flops!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
After wearing ourselves out with our stoop, squat, scoop it up beach routine, we piled back in the cart with our bags of seaglass and headed out the bayside road.
We really hadn't made plans yet for the day, but developed sudden hunger pains when we saw this sign! Kash Keken! In all our trips to Isla, we'd never stopped there. It was a little too early for lunch -- before 11 a.m., but we decided to pull over and investigate since they appeared to be setting up for the day.
The sign says it all. I really wanted to try some of their ribs, but those weren't quite ready yet.
Wonder what the correct spelling is? Kahs Keken or Kash Keken?
The guys were manning the woodfire and there appeared to be meat cooking! I assumed they'd have nothing ready to sell, but I was wrong!
Plenty of pollos were ready to go, so we decided to take one home for lunch with all the trimmings. A whole barbequed chicken, slaw, a stack of tortillas, and some liquified beans. Personally, I'd rather substitute all slaw for the soupy bean concoction because I'm just not a fan. Something about liquefied beans rolls my stomach over, but Craig always tries it.
By the way, sometimes Craig reads my blog while he's eating lunch and then comes home to inform me that I've already posted that a month ago! I checked back through the blog rather thorooughly, but if I already reviewed Kash Keken, just chalk it up to menopausal brain or dopamine consumption. : )
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This song describes a little bit of what I felt on our first trip to Isla Mujeres. The culture and pace were so different from anything I'd experienced that it did feel like going to the end of the world.
I was late to the party since our first arrival was May 2002, but Isla was still a lot less populated by cars, scooters, and people then. The ferry was the older enclosed boat from Puerto Juarez with people packed shoulder to shoulder across the hard metal bench seats and the dusty faded navy curtains drawn. That combined with whiffs of diesel and the motion of the ocean made me fight nausea the entire way.
Once we emerged from the boat into the bright sun on the dock, a malatero found us and loaded the bags for the walk to the Hotel Secreto. It was newly-opened at the time and the rate was $75 a night including tax and continental breakfast. I remember reading the old message board and the usual suspects were up in arms over Secreto charging prices like that, which truly puzzled me since $75 a night wouldn't buy a traveler a room at the SeaTac Travelodge back in Seattle! $75 for an oceanfront room at a small boutique hotel in the Caribbean is a smokin' deal!
Back then, I didn't know what a blog was, nor had I ever written a trip report. I wasn't particularly a photo buff and probably didn't take 100 pictures the entire trip. What impressed us most about Isla? I remember watching a line of people down by NaBalam slowly wade out into the blue Caribe for what seemed forever with the water never reaching their knees. It seemed almost ritualistic. The long wide stretch of sand on Playa Norte at the time was a sight in itself!
There was also a short stumpy lifeguard with tall bushy hair who ran up and down Playa Media Luna chasing tourists away from the water with the warning tiburon! I had no clue what tiburon was at the time, but now I realize yelling SHARK was much more effective at keeping people out of the water than just telling them the sharp coral rock formations and currents were dangerous.
One day when I was sunbathing around the corner on Playa Norte while Craig was snorkeling, the bushy haired lifeguard evidently recognized me and entrusted me with his walkie talkie, wallet, and what appeared to be diarrhea pills when he had to take the plunge to retrieve two silly American girls who'd swam out too far. The radio kept squawking at me while I watched him swim farther and farther gesturing to the girls to come back. They kept swimming away from him because they were topless (probably for the first time in their lives) and feared he was a deranged local wanting to touch their chi chi's. The chase went on for quite awhile and he appeared exhausted by the time he returned to this old gringa for his belongings.
We rented a golf cart for the day, touring the island and stopping at Playa Lancheros for the fish and Hotel Garrafon for snorkeling. We stuck to the outer road and avoided driving through the colonias because we weren't sure which areas were safe. I'm laughing now. I remember viewing the section of Juarez across from the Navy base as an area to get through quickly. At the time, that area still showed a lot of devastation from Hurricane Gilberto. Actually, there are still areas of rubble that can be seen when you walk the malecon. We thought we were driving through the hood!
What else do I remember? I acted like a complete germaphobe armed with a bottle of Purel, as if the island and people were somehow dirtier than the environment back home. On our trip to Chichen Itza, I completely avoided eating at the hotel buffet for fear of getting turista. I also dehydrated myself on the return trip because I didn't want to drink water and have to stop for a bathroom. Our driver (Gaby who later worked at Playa del Sol) paid a local in one of the villages to let Craig use the bano on the way there. Craig emerged with a smile on his face and told me it was a good thing I didn't need to go because it was a hole in the floor.
The villages on the way to Chichen Itza contained houses made of wooden tree sticks and others built of cement blocks. In some bizarre way, it reminded me of The Three Pigs, only I didn't see any homes built of bricks. Gaby was speeding along the two-lane humpbacked road at over 70 mph. I remember deciding just to quit worrying and throw caution to the wind. I didn't know Gaby at the time. He was just a strange man who picked us up at the ferry dock in Puerto Juarez. I remembering questioning myself about what we were doing getting into a strange car in a strange country with an unknown driver. He spoke very little English at the time, so communication was with Spanglish and hand gestures. It was Sunday morning, so at one point, we passed a man on a horse and an old woman headed to town in the basket of a malatero's trike. I wish I'd snapped some photos along the way.
Remember the Convention Center dogs? They were quite the controversy at the time, lying around on the mounds of dirt in the vacant bus lot barking and scaring passersby. We were instructed to pretty much remain cool and ignore them, so we'd tiptoe past them at night when we were headed down the lane. The only dog we ever had problems with was the yippy little terrier mix we called Kujo who lived in the outpost right behind Secreto. Just when you were almost home after running the gauntlet, he'd fly out of the darkness snarling and snapping to scare the hell out of you.
Take what you need and we disappear
Without a trace we'll be gone, gone
The moon and the stars can follow the car
and then when we get to the ocean
We gonna take a boat to the end of the world
All the way to the end of the world
Here are some images from that old digital camera flavored up by Picnik.
We've continued to move around in our stays on Isla, experiencing something different each trip. In July, we stayed out in La Gloria. Surrounded by locals going about their daily lives, walking through the local mercado and down neighborhood streets, watching elementary students doing the Mexican hat dance in traditional dress -- I experienced the newness of Isla once again!
I'm looking forward to Yelapa in December because I'm hoping to once again rekindle those end of the world feelings!
Monday, September 20, 2010
Craig's still churning out the aloe. When he retires, maybe we should open an aloe farm? Those puppies multiply like rabbits, but really, how many aloe does a person need??? I should count the pots and give you The Pot Update. I bet that'd light up the map on the side of the blog!
The nightly sunsets continue to amaze.
And speaking of multiplying, look what's happened!
Remember, there were two white ducks -- Taffy and Daffy?
Sometime this past spring or early summer (I think it happened when I was out of town in July), four other domestic ducks suddenly appeared. My first thought was -- Taffy and Daffy finally discovered how to hatch eggs? But where'd that half black one come from? Friends just happened to run into the culprits, so they got the scoop.
A local family has decided that it's their mission to fill our neighborhood ponds (they actually call them lakes here, but they're ponds) with ducks. I'm not even sure the family lives in the neighborhood. According to their explanation, it's a tradition to buy the ducklings for their kids at Easter, and then dump them on the community once they get too big for the backyard. (Dump is my word.)
An animal lover in the neighborhood, when it was just Taffy and Daffy, decided that she would go to a local feed store, buy duck food, and supply the poor orphans with a proper daily diet. At the time, it seemed a very thoughtful gesture. She was concerned because Taffy and Daffy were suffering an unhealthy carb overload from the white bread thrown to them by families who live around the lakes.
You've probably figured out that I have liberal leanings, but I'm sad to say this tale has turned into an allegory that Fox News would just love! Ducks on the Dole. Some liberal do-gooder starts giving free handouts and everyone in town shows up. Wild ducks soon migrate to the location and just won't leave. The population swells and the do-gooder has to supply more and more feed. They all like it here so much, what with the free meal every morning and tasty snacks fed to them every night, that they didn't bother to migrate home in the summer.
The photos below don't even do the situation justice. When Saby and I walk by in the mornings, there are easily a hundred ducks, most of them wild ducks, camped out quacking waiting for the morning meal wagon to arrive. They swarm towards us until they figure out we're not packing viddles. It's a soup kitchen. The proverbial bread line.
The photo below was taken after they'd been fed, so most of the ducks had flown the coop back to fresher water on their other chosen ponds around the neighborhood.
I have a feeling that the duck poop will be hitting the fan (the HOA committee) in the near future. I'm all in favor of live and let live, but the ducks are fowling the pond. Not to mention the sidewalks, grass, etc... etc.... It's reminding me of the Canadian geese situation when we lived in Seattle. (That's right, blame it on the Canadians!) The geese overpopulated all the local lake parks and soon cities were hauling out everything in their arsenals to get rid of them. Their poop closed the swimming beaches. Actually, the poop was everywhere! And those Canadian geese were quite testy and know to be downright mean to the locals. Authorities tried annoying them with sound and hired dogs to chase them. But that didn't deter those Canadians! They finally captured them with large nets and removed them to faraway locations (and the geese migrated right back -- duhhhh!).
Oh what a tangled web we weave when we just try to do a good deed for the ducks!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
I don't know why I tease myself with this surf song when Phoenix is still blazing hot and dry! The summer of 2010 seems endless. I guess that's a good thing if you live in northern climes, but not so much in Arizona. Just when I thought we'd turned the corner into the 90's, the temps popped back up again. According to the weatherman, we're running almost 10 degrees higher than the average temps for this time in September.
The 'new' has worn off Phoenix summers and the heat's really wearing on me. I was gone for most of the month of July to Isla Mujeres and Kansas, but it still feels like the summer that just won't go away! I'm also missing the rain. Supposedly, it's been a good monsoon season, but I've only heard one heavy rain in the middle of the night. It's been a muggy parched summer in our neighborhood, and I'm wondering why I'm seeing these strange little things all over my courtyard?
The mosquitos have also beeen at record-breaking levels this summer. I think it has a lot to do with the watering of grass and poor drainage in certain areas of our neighborhood. They've been really vicious, swarming us the minute the garage door opens. I've gone through a can of Off and a can of Autan from Mexico in the last month. Now I'm using an imitation of Avon's Skin So Soft that I picked up on sale at Target. According to news reports, six people in the valley have died this summer of West Nile, and the infection rate's at an all time high. One thing that strikes me is that municipalities in Mexico where dengue's a problem go door to door spraying. Nothing's been done in our neighborhood to combat the bumper crop of mosquitos. I think some cities in our area have been fogging, but nada here!
The only plus I can think of right now is that these 100-something degree temps are keeping the pool warmer than normal, which will end up extending the season. We've been covering the pool at night and leaving it on to build up heat during the day. Then we take dips in the large hot tub (pool) every night. With the light on in the pool and a soundtrack playing in the background, it feels almost psychedelic with the blue dancing lights from the waves in the pool reflecting off the walls. Saby runs around frantically staring up at the sky trying to figure out if those lights are from her spaceship signaling its approach. I guess it's the little things that amuse! : )
Have a nice cool weekend! We'll be sweltering here!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
On a sidenote, the first time we went looking for La Bruja, we were staying out at the new Mar y Sol on the bayside. We set out on foot one night determined to find the restaurant. For some reason, I had it in my mind that the restaurant was close to L.G.E.S., when in actuality, it's not far from the Little Yellow Schoolhouse. So we ended up wandering. After walking all the way to L.G.E.S. and not finding it, I saw a man sitting on a corner curb. So I approached him to ask directions. I failed to notice that the man was falling down drunk. I don't speak Spanish -- he didn't speak English. After making gestures and repeating 'Donde es La Bruja' several times, he stumbled to his feet and lurched at me yelling 50 pesos! 50 pesos! Craig and I quickly moved away and el boracho followed in hot pursuit (not that hot since he was wobbling). He continued to yell 50 pesos with his hand out. LOL! We finally found La Bruja that night and it was closed, but the search was certainly memorable!
Here's the soup recipe!
Sopa de Lima from La Bruja Restaurant, Isla Mujeres
One tomato sliced in thin strips
1/2 white onion sliced
1/2 green bell pepper sliced
4 cups of chicken broth
Fried tortilla strips
Cilantro to taste
Place the tomato, onion, green pepper, and chicken broth in a large pot. Then add the lime juice and a few slices of lime. Bring to boil and let simmer. The recipe says 10 minutes, but I probably let it simmer for a half hour. Add chopped cilantro and tortilla strip on the top.
I cheat and purchase chipotle lime tortilla strips on the salad dressing aisle. I also add diced avocado to the soup.
When we were staying out at Deep Blue in July, just a few blocks away from La Bruja, I was tempted to eat this soup every night! It tastes good here at home, but fantastic in the restaurant!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Oh yea Brandi. I got dreams too! And I bet some of them now are more bizarre than yours! HA!
Life is better. I'm now off the drug that was causing my restless legs to run rampant, but that doesn't mean they've stopped. After running all the tests, my doctor decided there was no serious underlying problem causing me to jerk uncontrollably. She did cut my blood pressure medication in half (I attribute that improvement to my regular daily bike rides) and prescribed something new for the leg jerks.
But one thing, especially medication, always leads to another. Remember me riding in the clown car down a road in Bali in my sleep? The latest medication, Levadopa, is providing me with even wilder dreams that have no rhyme or reason. At least I knew the clown car ride in Bali was probably triggered by Julia Robert's bike ride in Eat Pray Love! I really should start keeping a journal because this new stuff is nuts!
For instance, Wednesday night I was hanging out with Cameron Diaz at the premiere of her new movie. Cameron Diaz is not particularly somebody I think about on a yearly basis. In fact, I can't name one of her recent movies, much less her new movie. The premiere was at an outdoor amphitheatre/Roman ruin. I somehow got lost and couldn't find my way back to Cameron or the car in Section 5 in the parking lot. I ended up in the nudist viewing area which was below ground -- down where they kept the Gladiators before they sent them into the ring. The nudists were all middle-aged, flabby, grey, and not so pretty. I kept searching through my large tote bag for my cellphone to call my parents to let them know I'd be home late. LOL! You'd think I was having an LSD flashback or something, but honest to God, I never did drugs in the 60's and 70's!
The wild dreams seem to be subsiding a little, but I hate using these drugs. Number one -- I'm sure Levadopa is what some of my students took back in my teaching days for seizures. They slept through class when they'd had the medication. Literally, I took one of the pills in the afternoon last week because I was crawling out of my skin and literally passed out until Craig came in the door after 6 p.m. So it can only be taken at bedtime. And the Requip I formerly took was another dopamine drug similar to what my father took for Parkinson's. So neither of them create a blissful state, but until the restless leg syndrome gets down to a level where I don't go insane every time I try to sit and watch a movie or get through a flight, I'll be taking something with dopa in the name.
Anyway, things are looking up! My EKG was normal for the first time ever. In the past, they've always seen an irregularity in it, questioned me about whether I've ever had a heart attack, and sent me to the cardiologist. Now I just need to get the rest of my maintenance appointments scheduled and I'll be good to go.
Too bad I can't take any photos of these dreams! The nudist viewing area scene was truly a classic!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
We slept with the windows open last night! The early mornings have suddenly turned decent. Saby can now take a pleasant 8 a.m. stroll as opposed to a hurry up and get her out there stifling 6 a.m. fast walk. No more blazing asphalt for her tootsies! The daytime highs are still in the low 100's, but we can see that light at the end of the tunnel now that the overnight temps are dropping into the high 60's and low-70's.
I decided to have a little blog Picnik after our Saturday chore of whacking the backyard jungle. I wish I could insert one of the scenes below as my view! If only we had an ocean out our backdoor. In fact, I told Craig we should get one of those sound recordings of ocean waves and play it on the stereo when we're in the pool. Maybe we could convince ourselves! But I guess we'll have to settle for Eddie Vedder and a few palm trees for now. Love this song!
Using the Holga button on Picnik seems a lot easier than using a Holga and sending off the film! I'm not sure what processes I used on these other photos, but I think it was various forms of cinematography with a little bit of somethin somethin.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I found the fabric for the ottoman and pillows on sale at JoAnn in late May. I think the sum total of the fabric came to $75. When we returned from Isla in July, the upholsterer had finished the ottoman -- labor, $150. After procrastinating,I finally got around to making the coordinating pillows on Friday. Actually, I made three pillows and found the rest of them at World Market. Here's the finished product.
I made the two brown faux leather pillows and striped pillow from the ottoman fabric for the sage green sofa to coordinate with the ottoman.
When I was browsing at World Market, I bought three other pillows to dress up the older leather sofa. I'm amazed that I was able to find the pillows to finish off the room at one store. That's a first for me. I usually look far and wide and never find what I'm looking for. Evidently, the colors in the ottoman are hot this year!
In the process of redoing upholstery, I also decided to paint some of the antique furniture. I picked out some paints from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot and bought them in sample sizes for $2.99 apiece. I know I'm probably the last person in the world to realize that I can use the samples instead of buying a bigger can of paint. Martha has some great colors! I used okra on the old churn that sits by the leather sofa and still have over half of the sample size leftover.
I used October leaves on the bottom of this old trunk and wiped some of the okra over the lighter green top. I also bought a small sample of the color sealing wax that I used on a small bench and tray.
While I was shopping at World Market, I noticed a rag rug that ties all the colors together. I needed a new one for the kitchen! Sold!
After I finished putting everything together, I noticed that my shells and seaglass in the wooden bowl also coordinated.
All in all, I'm so glad I didn't go new. My sincere thanks to Norwood Furniture for being so stingy with your silly pillows! It made me think and allowed me to get creative and use what I already had. Craig and I have decided we don't want to add any more furniture to the heap when we'll probably be downsizing in a few years when he retires. Who knows! We could sell it all and end up singing the Mexican Hat Dance! The lesson is recycle!