West Valley Brush Fire

Late Wednesday afternoon I happened to be looking out the window from the high-rise I work in downtown Phoenix, and noticed a  huge black cloud of smoke filling the sky from the area we live in.

I phoned my husband, who then reassured me that this fire was not in our neighborhood but only a few blocks away.  This fire started by lightening strikes and has stayed mainly across the street near the mountains.  It is still disconcerting to look out and see the smoke still rising days later.

Friends of ours in Chandler can smell the smoke from there and have even had ashes falling in their neighborhood.

We are lucky that the fire has not spread out of the brush from which it is still currently burning.  No homes or businesses have been damaged. 

 

The picture above was taken Friday evening while I stood on a chair in our backyard.  At times it even blocked out the sun, as you can see in the pictures taken around my neighborhood below.

 

 

 

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Summer Literary Gems

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the library.  It was nice to escape the 115 degree day and bury myself behind many a book.  I came home with an arm load of the following gems:

The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton

Aphrodite; A Memoir of the Senses, by Isabel Allende

Enlightenment for Idiots, by Anne Cushman

With Billie, by Julia Blackburn

The Gift of Rain, by Tan Twang Eng

Eat, Love, Pray, by Elizabeth Gilbert

I read recently that Edith Wharton's book was a great summer read.  I actually got to visit her home last September while visiting Boston.  I saw the room where she wrote.  The house is reported to be haunted as well.  So far I am 100 pages into The House of Mirth.  I read her book The Age of Innocence about 15 years ago.  There is something to be said for the classics.

I also enjoy any of Elizabeth George's books.  They are murder mysteries and I have read them all.  I am currently awaiting her next installment.

Reading to me is a luxury.  It is to me like wine is to the wino.  In fact, I'm going to leave off here and spend the rest of the evening with Edith!

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When Did We Become Such Slugs?

 

Before I get into this post and Ruben's and my current stay in 'Slugdom,' I needed to post the following picture.  Six Weasels, this is for you.  Your posts have become part of my morning ritual and I have read them over many a cup of coffee.  I hope this makes you laugh as many of your posts have made me laugh. 

 

 

 

(Now just picture him with a purple belly dancing scarf with silver coins hanging from it ,and no shoes, and that's pretty much how I felt the other night.  Thanks for laughing with me over that one –Jennifer).

 

It has been over a week since we returned from vacation and Ruben and I have come to the conclusion that we are both slugs.  This could have something to do with the fact that upon returning to our beloved Phoenix, the temperature had shot up to 110+ degrees.  We are usually pretty active people so this lack of motion has really been apparent.  Last week I heard the tv volume go down in Ruben's tv room (aka: the Man Cave).  I was sitting at the computer in the kitchen either blogging, reading email, or checking my bank account or something when I hear him yell out to me.  "Hey babe?"

"Yes?"

"Have you noticed that we have been complete slugs lately?

"Yes, we have been, haven't we?"

"Why do you think that is?" 

Well I could make up a million excuses to why we are in this current state but I do know one thing; it has to stop.  Besides the Tuesday night dance class, I have not done squat since we were on the boat a few weeks ago, and boy do I feel it!

I had commmitted myself to eating healthy this year and making exercise a part of my regular

routine.  This past December I signed both Ruben and I up at a gym.  He and I were consistently going for such a long time.  As work headed towards the fiscal year end, I found myself staying late and skipping the gym.  My workouts have dwindled and now it has been at least a month since I've been back to the gym.  

Well all this is about to change.  Starting this Saturday I will get my butt out of bed and head over to the kick-boxing class.  On Sunday there is a Latin dance class that I will be partaking in as well.  I also have not weighed myself since before vacation (gulp).  I figured I would wait until Monday to survey the damage.  At least at that point I will have two workouts under my belt.  

And water!  I have not had nearly as much water as I should be drinking.  The only fruit I had over vacation was in a mango martini.  Somehow I don't think that really counts.

 

I have no more excuses.  My darling husband bought me a new pair of sneakers over the weekend to replace the pair in my luggage.  I just feel 'mushy,' if that makes sense.  Maybe I'll take Abby for a walk after work.  I could also get up a half hour early to walk her before work.  The Abinator would like that, too.

This all sounds like a great idea now but come 5pm I may be fighting the feelings of wanting to plop down and watch TV in a nice air conditioned room.  I will instead take myself by the ear and go do something productive.

 

 

 

     

As Tony Little says, "You can do it!"   Now if blogging only burned calories I would be in great shape! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts on a Wednesday…

 

 

 

Last night was the first night of dance classes at The Goddess Garden. 

I struggled a bit as it has been at least a few weeks since I last danced – or exercised for that matter.

Over the weekend I purchased a new sports bra and workout shorts to replace the set that was in my luggage.  Don't ask me why I purchased extra-large shorts.  They kept falling down and I had them hiked up to my rib cage.  It felt like an episode of Urkel Does The Turkish Fusion.  I felt so silly.   Anyhow, this class was much harder than the ones I have taken in the past.  It felt great though, once I got the steps down and could move in unison with Demi, my instructor, and one other advanced student. 

My new role was announced to the company today.  I will also be meeting with the new team.  This role has been my goal since I started here almost 3 years ago.  My whole body feels like it has breathed a sigh of relief.  I will take June and July off from my college classes so that I may focus on getting this new job down, and then I will be right back at it come August. 

I have come to the conclusion that I have to stop worrying about if and when I'll get my suitcase back.  I don't know at this point.  I have made phone calls and I have written letters.  Right now I am procrastinating filling out the claim form for the airline.  It's like I'm still in denial.  I have to do it though, and just be done with it.  Like ripping off a band-aid, right?  I associate the items in my suitcase with how I acquired them.  Like the brown boots I bought with my sister on a trip back to Boston, or the cute teeshirt my stepmother sent me for my birthday.  I think about the hiking boots that have climbed all over Arizona.  And lastly, the cute blue bathing suit I bought years ago for a trip to Mexico with new girlfriends I had made when first moving here.  Memories will remain, but the material things are obviously gone.  And 'material' is the key word here. 

I have some great girlfriends both in and outside of work.  The picture here is of a t-shirt a friend

made before attending the Sex In The City movie premiere a few weeks ago.  Apparently a whole group went and they all wore similar shirts.  They are such a fun group.  Lately I've had the itch for a girl's camping trip.  I put it out there and next thing I know another email comes back for us to meet at 2pm for frozen yogurt to discuss the details of this trip.  I love it!   

I've toyed with the idea for awhile to change my hair color.  It used to be dark brown/black but now has turned completely gray.  I color it but I always feel like a skunk once it starts growing back.  I got the name of a colorist whom I left a message for yesterday.  I knew I wanted a change once I turned 40.  I'm hoping to set up a consultation soon.  I'd like to lighten it which would probably mean I would have to lighten my eyebrows as well.  I hope I don't look ridiculous.  I dreamed of growing up and looking like Barbie.  The reality is that I look more like Barbie's nerdy exchange student friend that she only hangs with when the cool kids like Skipper and Ken aren't around.  Regardless, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Since when have you seen Barbie in a belly dancing costume?  And Barbie didn't get to marry a cool cowboy like I did. 

But I digress.  It will be interesting to see what the stylist has to say.  Gosh, I haven't visited a stylist in years!  This could be interesting.

 

 

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Gun Store & Christian Books? Um, okay…

 

If I had not have seen this tonight, I don't think I would have believed it. I took this picture rather non-chalantly. If caught I wasn't sure if I'd be held up or thumped on the head with a Bible.

This is just another time I'm thankful to have had my camera with me. Life indeed can be stranger than the Sci Fi Channel on a Saturday night..

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Where in The World???

Since I still have not received my luggage from a recent vacation, I can only imagine where it is right now.  Since I haven't received any post cards from it like the person years ago whose lawn gnome was kidnapped and photographed all over the world, I can only speculate.  Here are my speculations:

 

Great Wall of China maybe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about on Safari?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mais oui!  Paris in Spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Que romantico!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I expected a post card at the very least! 

This was my attempt at poking fun over a situation that I have allowed to stress me out over this past week.  I hope it made you laugh –and no, I don't really own a 'Hello Kitty' suitcase but I thought it would be somewhat fitting to add.  🙂

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In Honor of Dear Old Dad…

On today, this Father's Day, I want to take a moment to honor our Dads. 

To the left is Ruben's Dad, Ted.  They are watching TV together.  It was most likely the show Chavo, which is a Mexican comedy show that they both watched together.  The reruns are still shown today.

I believe this was taken in California.  Ted is one of the wisest men I know.  He is incredibly insightful and caring.  He is also a minister at their family's church.  I joke that I married the wild preacher's son which there is probably more reality to than joke. 😉

 

Ruben has inherited his great sense of humor.

 

Here is my Dad, Fred, with my Grandma (his Mom) Estelle.  This was taken at our wedding here in Phoenix 2 years ago.  My Grandma is my last surviving grandparent.

Dad has taught me many things over the years.  If I wanted sympathy, I'd go to my Mother.  If I wanted real answers on problems or situations, I'd go to Dad.  He never steered me in the wrong direction. 

I see pieces of my Grandfathers reflected in Ruben.  He shares their work ethic and their love of family.  It is uncanny sometimes.  I guess we truly are attracted to what we know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to find a picture of my Dad and I together while growing up and was unsuccessful.  I did find, however, this note that was sent with a folder full of old pictures of myself a few years ago.

My Dad is a great note writer.  When I was 19 years old, I worked for this awful company and I always seem to be in trouble.  Looking back now, I just think it had more to do with the mean people I was working with and not anything I was really doing. 

My Dad wrote another note at that time that had me in tears.  It is tattered and torn in places but I still keep it on me to read when I feel like I need some inspiration to not give up. 

10 years ago Dad and I went to a Father Daughter Dance.  We were the oldest ones there and were surrounded by men who were my age at the time and their 4 to 5 year old daughters.  When it came time to honor our Dad's openly, I whipped out that letter and read it to the crowd.  Dad's eyes were filled with tears.  He had no idea I had kept it that long.

 

Ruben's Dad is camping today in Sedona with the rest of the family.  We were unfortunately not able to make it.  I'm amazed that both Ruben's parents are in their 70s and still enjoy tent camping.  God love 'em.

My Dad is fishing in a remote area of Canada today.  When we spoke on Friday he was stressing on how he was going to only pack 50 lbs. worth of supplies with him.  This trip requires travel in a sea plane with a pontoon bottom, and there is a weight restriction.  I'm sure he is working it out.

It's good to know that they both are enjoying their Father's Day doing what they enjoy most.  Although they won't be with us today, I hope they are getting in the rest and peace that they both undoubtedly deserve.

 

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Adventures In Defensive Driving School

After receiving a speeding ticket last month, I made the executive decision to spend all morning today at Defensive Driving School.  To the left is the actual sign that was posted.  It's times like this that make me glad there is a camera on my phone.  I was actually hoping there would be someone at the door handing out mimosas and Bloody Marys.  Wishful thinking on my part.

While waiting in line to submit my citation with the rest of the guilty, I recognized the man standing behind me as Johnny, a good friend of Ruben's; and quite a character.  If you remember the Captain Caveman cartoons on TV growing up you pretty much get the picture of Johnny's appearance.  The only difference is that he is blond, but nonetheless still somewhat neanderthal in appearance.  I must also mention that he was the only person in attendance of my wedding wearing shorts.  I thought this was hysterical.  When he finally made it to the front of the line, he asked the two ladies behind the table where the cocktail waitress was.  He asked several times during the morning when the cocktail waitresses were going to show up, much to the delight of the class.   We were in a bar afterall.

Class was actually quite interesting.  I learned a lot about Arizona driving rules, etc…  The most annoying part were a few people who just did not want to be there.  There was quite a bit of hemming and hawing, and comments made under one's breath.  I, like everyone else, would much rather be doing other things on a Saturday morning but given the choice between paying a huge fine and having my insurance go up, I can sit through a 5 and half hour class.  Heck, I may even learn a thing or two!

Sitting two seats away was one of the most arrogant obnoxious 20-something year old guys I have ever come into contact with.  Several times he tried to correct the teacher by stating that the information she was giving us was incorrect.  At one point it got very heated.    I'm surprised she didn't tell him to get up and start teaching the class where he thought he knew so much.  Johnny and I kept exchanging glances over this one.  The teacher firmly stated that he had a right to his opinion.  She stressed the word 'opinion' and looked him dead in the eyes.  What does he do?  He turns to the class all smug, and announces that the officer that gave him the ticket is no longer employed thanks to him (yet he is still sitting in a defensive driving class –go figure).  Apparently he is a lawyer, or so he let the whole class know.  He appearred quite young so I'm guessing there was only a shred of truth to this, if any.

Next we talked about DUI.  The instructor read off the alcohol levels of each popular drink.  The 18 year old kid seated behind me would respond with an 'Ohhhh' or a 'Woooo,' like it was the coolest thing since the Game Boy came out.  I was pretty much done at that point.

I glanced over at Mr. Arrogant Young Lawyer and he was keeping himself busy by texting.  He spent the last two hours of class texting away.    At the end the teacher called each of us in groups by last name to receive our certificate of completion.  Mr. AYL apparently was so busy texting that he misunderstood last name for first name.  Funny enough his first name really did begin was an 'A.'  ('A' for Arrogant) Surprise, surprise.  He was so angry.  He had nearly stomped back to his seat when Johnny said, "You're going to make one hell of a lawyer, dude."  Mr. AYL responded lamely using an expletive that really wasn't fitting to the comment. 

I knew plenty of those types at that age.  I wonder if in time they softened up.  Suddenly they're in their first job after college and they are the shit. 

Anyways, I'm glad it's over.  Besides that one aforementioned individual, it was actually pretty informative.  I learned the following things:

1.) You can pass someone on the right on a regular laned road as long as you don't have any tires touching soil off the pavement and there is enough room for both cars.

2.) You can keep an open bottle of alcohol in your camper while driving (I was always curious about this one).

3.) The school bus I pass every morning that is picking up kids outside the trailer park should have it's stop sign out in addition to the flashing lights.  Because of this no one knows when to stop or not.  Plus, in addition to the danger it is placing these kids at, it just looks bad.  What makes these kids any different from kids leaving from a neighborhood development that does not consist of run down trailers?

4.) It is a crime to give someone the finger while driving.  I had no idea on that one either. 

So there it is.  My Not So Glamorous Adventures in Defensive Driving School.  I sure as heck don't plan on attending any class reunions any time soon!

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The Lessons of Lost Luggage

I've posted this picture of Monsoon in my suitcase a couple of times now.  It hit me the other day that there is a correlation between Monsoon and this now misplaced piece of luggage.

At the end of April, Monsoon had what should have been the first part of a two part surgery to heal her of adrenal disease.  Mid-morning the vet called me at work to let me know that he had run into complications.  He only gave Monsoon a 50% chance of making it.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  She and I had been playing on the bedroom floor only a few hours earlier.  I was not ready for this. 

I grew up Catholic.  Believe me, I fought it tooth & nail.  For a child with ADD it was nearly impossible to sit through an hours long Mass.  I went to bed many a Sunday night without dinner.  In time I found faith on my own terms.  After receiving that call from the vet, I headed home, as I did not want my co-workers to see me crying.  I cried all the way home.  It has been years since I picked up my rosary beads.  In the past six weeks I have said the rosary twice.  The first was for Monsoon.  At one point in my life I had memorized which mystery to say on what day.  I struggled to remember but made it through.  I layed in bed staring at Monsoon's empty cage while praying and crying at the same time.  I heard something fall on the floor.  When I finished praying I saw that one of the dried roses I kept in a sconce on the wall had fallen to the floor.  I knew at that moment that my prayers were heard.

 

Being at home and all, I decided to make dinner for Ruben for a change.  I dried my face, pulled myself together, and headed out to the grocery store.  I could see monsoon clouds gathering at the eastern horizon which is usually indicative of a big storm.  It was only April and we don't see these type of clouds until mid-July or so.  I took this as another sign that Monsoon was going to be okay.  Monsoon did pull through.  The vet refers to her as his 'miracle baby.'

Recently I have spent much time bitching about my lost luggage to anyone that will listen.  I went back and forth in my mind on whether I should again pick up those rosary beads and ask for some divine help with this as there are many other matters that need more attention.  I did pick them up.  I struggled through the mysteries that I was suppose to recite before each decade of the rosary.  It was Monday so if I'm not mistaken, it was the Joyful Mysteries (I think).

As the week has moved along, and still no luggage to be had, I started to really think about things.  In the photo at the top are two things that I have prayed on.  One of course being much more important than the other.  I have allowed myself to become a complete bear when thinking about this luggage not being around.  I feel like a dork being the only one dressed up at work today when everyone else is in jeans.  I trust, however, that the luggage is just misplaced and it will make it's way back to me eventually.  When I think of Monsoon and how I almost lost her, losing a suitcase full of clothes doesn't seem so bad.  If I had to choose, the choice would be obvious.  When a life is lost, it doesn't come back.

In my late 20s I had a roommate in Boston who moved in with me after losing everything she owned, including two precious cats, in a fire.  Her room was right under mine and many nights I'd hear her crying through the floorboards.  There are horrible floods in Iowa right now.  Four boyscouts lost their lives in a tornado.  Oh, I could just go on and on.  Losing this luggage has really placed things into perspective.  Everything I had in that suitcase can be replaced.  Of course it is a nuisance and an inconvenience.  –But we made it home from vacation in one piece.  Monsoon survived major surgery.  Her vet told me later that her chances of surviving it were actually only 30%.  She beat those odds.

Things could have been so much worse in both situations I mention here. There is hope.  And faith is hope and trust in the unknown.  I will remain hopeful.

–But man, will I miss those brown ankle boots.   

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Happy 40th Birthday, Ruben!!!

This post is in honor of my husband Ruben who turned 40 yesterday. 

The picture to the left was taken in April 1969.  Funny enough the little car he's driving doesn't look too much different than what he was driving when we met 4 years ago.

From what I'm told he didn't sleep much so his Mom didn't get much of a break.  He was a very happy baby though.  In every old picture I have of him he is smiling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my absolutely favorite picture of my husband while he was growing up.  The saddle is almost as big as he is.

Growing up in a city I can't even fathom owning a horse.  Ruben has introduced me to many things since moving to the Southwest.

Here he is with his older brother, sisters and Dad in El Paso, TX in Spring 1971.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He once got in trouble for speaking Spanish in class.  Such is the life of a child in a bilingual household.  We personally speak Spanglish at home.  Actually I do.  He's fluent.

 

This man can make a mean green chile and beef like nobody's business!  When having a party our friends ask who is doing the cooking.  I know that they are all secretly hoping it's him.  From his BBQ ribs, homemade tacos, and homemade sangria, I've never met a better cook.  I am the lucky recipient of some great meals on a regular basis.

 

 

This is Ruben today.  I posted this picture because I love the peaceful stress-free smile on his face.  This was taken last week while on vacation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing he has is a great sense of humor.  This was taken in Skagway, Alaska at a Russian Shop.  I came around the corner and there he was with the silly hat.  The goatee actually makes him look somewhat authentic, don't you think?

Laughter is plentiful at home.  Once during a get together, I asked him what my vegetarian friends were going to eat.  With a straight face he told me to tell them to go out back and graze in the yard.  He needed to mow the lawn anyway.

I would also like to point out that the week of our wedding in April 2006, Ruben and a few friends transformed our backyard from a dust bowl to a beautiful desert garden oasis where we hosted our rehearsal dinner.  The sod was laid only a few hours before. 

After dating for six months we went to NYC and Boston to see my family.  I knew after that trip that I would be with him for the rest of my life.  Lucky me.

This is my picture blog to honor my husband on his birthday.  I hope in another 40 years I will still be blogging about our adventures together.

Happy Birthday, Honey.

(Listo, mi amor?)

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