Friday Update

Things have finally settled down and we are getting ourselves back to normal.  Work has settled down, too which is always good.  I can’t really complain.  I work in a very peaceful setting with not a whole heck of a lot of people so I suppose a small upheaval helps to keep one on their toes.  The up side of all of this is that I was able to take on a separate writing job at my current workplace which is just great.  I will be paid by each document completed and where I love to write anyways it’ll be a bonus.  So that is the silver lining there.  🙂

Today I learned an important lesson on being clear with people.  A girlfriend of mine mentioned early last month that she was having a party for her birthday.  She asked a few of my friends to go and at that time they agreed.  So. . . a few weeks later the same friend having the party calls and says she has purchased tickets for all of us.  I was perplexed by this.  As it turns out she had decided to have her party at a hotel that was already hosting an event.  This part was left out.  Now two of the friends that were going to go have backed out.  I had no idea that this would be a paying event and neither did the friends she had me invite.  So now the friends have backed out and although I have a taker for one of the tickets she has made it clear that I am expected to pay for the extra one.  Luckily it is only $15 and not, say, $60.  So my friends, my lesson for the day is to be very clear and upfront about my understanding of the details of any event.  I will not let a mere $15 get between a friendship and I will let it slide.  This is a lesson learned. 

Well, I booked a ticket today to go to Florida to see my best friend in September.  We have not seen each in over three years now.  I am flying into the Tampa area and then we are driving to the Atlantic side to stay at my aunt’s condo on the beach near St. Augustine.  I cannot wait!  St. Augustine is just the perfect place for a girl’s weekend.  There’s a place for wine tasting plus just some great bars and restaurants.  Last time I visited I got a tattoo.  Who knows?  Maybe its time for another one.  (hubby may have something to say about that!)

  The other night I did a little bit of shopping with another girlfriend of mine who needed an outfit for the same party I wrote about above.  I’ve been on the hunt for a new bathing suit as the one I have is almost a decade old and is stretched out and fading.  I’ve been avoiding this task for a while but where I had arrived 30 minutes early to the store I thought, what the heck.  I’ll take my chances and try one on.  Well, it was a success.  I haven’t worn a 2-piece since my 20s and it was quite rewarding to put that sucker on and actually feel good in it (after driving all the way to the other side of town with no a/c in my car it also felt good to be semi-naked, truth be told).  When you’ve gone from a BMI (body mass index) of obese to a BMI of normal it is definitely an accomplishment.

Well, that is it in a nutshell.  Have a great weekend!

Mama’s Girl

The Smokester seems to have adjusted to her new home.  She and I have bonded over the past few months and no matter where I am in the house, she is usually right next to me.  Maybe I should have named her Shadow because she has become mine.

Bake Quest Ideas for August Needed

Well, the July hiatus is almost over so it is time to start thinking about the August Bake Quest.  Is there anything you’ve been itching to make?  We could stick with the three ingredients or we could try cooking from another region, etc…

Please comment on any ideas you might have and I will announce the Bake Quest early next week.

I will be looking forward to our Fall Bake Quests.  Nothing like a crisp cool day to put one in the mind for baking! 😀


A Weekend In Ohio

While this trip seems like a million years ago now, here are some pics I took while visiting family in Ohio:

This is the Cincinnati Transport Museum which was is a restored train station from the 1930s.  It was built in the Art Deco style and was really a fascinating building.  Amtrak is still in operation here and it was interesting to see the waiting room off the one side of the actual museum. 

This is a mural that was on the inside wall of the museum.  This place was really incredible.

These are the original ticket windows.  The ticket booth now houses the museum gift shop.

Another fantastic mural.

1910 poster.

Next up was a visit to Findlay Market.  Like most big cities Cincinnati has a marketplace for fresh fruits and veggies.

From what I was told, the upstairs of these old buildings are condemned so no businesses are in them.  This didn’t keep the flower boxes away though.  The facades of these old brick buildings were gorgeous.


Ohio has to be one of the prettiest states I’ve ever visited.  A decade ago when moving to Phoenix from Boston I drove through the middle of the state and there were so many areas that looked liked something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  Ohio is also incredibly green.  After living in the desert for a while I’m not quite used to that much vibrant greenery.  I felt a little like Dorothy in the Emerald City.

If you ever visit Cincinnati plan on stopping at Findlay Market.  Try the Belgian waffles.  They are hot and fresh off of the waffle press.  We bought a bunch and then snacked on them all afternoon.  irresistible!

Another Arizona Dust Storm

Monday evening we had another dust storm roll through.  Here are a few pics to show its progression:


There is a mountain range behind all that dust rolling in.  The dust obscures pretty much everything.

Here it comes!  I was bracing for impact.

Visibility gradually gets worse.




Darker still.

A veritable tsunami of sand.

These storms are very common here in the summer.  This year seems to be particularly active as many years we get maybe one or two all season and they aren’t nearly as widespread as these have been.  They are amazing to watch usually from the safety of one’s home.  Driving in them isn’t so fun but in a residential area it isn’t so bad.   Driving on the freeway surrounded by endless desert is where things really get tricky.


In Remembrance. . .

My father-in-law was born in a small Texas mining town that is no longer in existence.  He was one of 17 children.  Shortly after his birth in 1935 his family moved back to Juarez, Mexico where they were originally from.
At 17 years old he and a cousin decided to come to the United States to work.  In those days there was no border patrol.  Right before he was about to reach the US border, his father caught up with him and it was then that he found out that he was already a US citizen.  His father gave him the proper papers for proof. 
He established a life for himself in El Paso, TX and then returned to Mexico to marry his long time sweetheart who then accompanied him back to El Paso where they raised a family of 5 children.
He was ordained a minister at their church and later on became an elder at the same church.  He avoided the limelight and was not comfortable with preaching in front of a large crowd.  His faith was unprecedented.  He was accepting and loving to all.
He was an uneducated man, having completed only up to the third grade but he had a PhD in common sense.  His childhood years were spent mainly working in concrete with his father and brothers. 
While they lived in Texas, they were very involved in providing refuge to those that were experiencing the turmoil of South America in the 1970s and 80s.  It was not uncommon for their simple adobe house to have up to 40 people sleeping on floors and wherever they could find room.  My father-in-law felt that it was his duty to protect these people despite that fact that he could have easily been arrested for doing so.  He was a courageous man and took many risks to help those in need.
Throughout the years he raised horses and other farm animals.  Many of the horses were purchased by the local police department after he had broken in and trained them.    
While there are conflicting stories of how they came to be in Phoenix, one of them is that they were driving back to Texas after visiting family in California and the car broke down along I-10.  They thought Phoenix looked like a nice place to live so they stayed. 
In addition to his wife of almost 50 years, he leaves behind two sons and three daughters, twelve grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  He was a blessing to all that knew him and he touched many many lives throughout his own life.  Some of those lives he may have even saved at this risk of his own life.  He is and will forever be greatly missed.

Hubby's Family - Idaho, 1969


Finding The New ‘Normal’

This post was supposed to be a tribute to my father-in-law but I just realized when I scanned the pictures to use in this post that I stupidly saved them as pdf files (crappity, crap, crap, CRAP!).  My photo editing software won’t let me change them back into jpeg files so I will have to bring the pics back in to scan because I want everyone that reads that particular post on his life to have a visual of whom I’m referring to.

My goodness, it has been so hard to find time to blog as of late!  Not only that but it has been very difficult to keep up with friends here this past month.  I hope you are all enjoying your summer/winter, depending on where you are.

We have finally gotten back to work after the funeral for fil.  My husband told me that it felt strange just getting back to things.  I suppose there is no such thing as getting back to ‘normal’ after that kind of loss.  Maybe it becomes something else which is the new ‘normal’ if that makes sense.  My inlaws seem to be doing okay.  They are really tough people.  They are also surrounded by so many caring people and have had wonderful support.

On my side of the family, my sister made it through her surgery okay.  There was nothing cancerous found and she has been recuperating better than anyone has expected.  She is in really good shape healthwise so she attributes that as being the cause for a quick recovery.  It was a huge relief.  Unfortunately my uncle is living out his last days.  My Mom sends updates weekly. 

Work has been nuts for several weeks.  I had posted about a snarky comment made by a contractor a few weeks back who I had confronted.  Needless to say after a string of irrational emails and having to get my boss involved, the contractor finally quit.  It was a relief in all honesty.  As I looked back over the past several weeks I realized I have way more courage than I give myself credit for at times.  I didn’t participate in a screaming match or lose my cool.  I learned long ago that you can’t argue with irrational behavior.  As my bestfriend told me recently, “You just can’t argue with crazy.”  I also had to confront the manager that this contractor was working for.  She wasn’t taking my calls so unfortunately it had to be done over email.  Regardless it cleared the air.  She and I usually have such a great rapport.  It would have been a shame to let the actions of someone else ruin that.      We can’t shoot our own teammates.

So, I hope to be back in full force as I so much love reading and responding to blogs and also reading your comments on my own blog.  As far as the Bake Quest for July goes, I think at this point we’ll just start fresh for August.

It’s Been A Little Dusty in These Parts

Perhaps you’ve heard of the great dust storm that took place here in Phoenix Tuesday night.  It was also known as a ‘haboob’ which still has me snickering like an adolescent boy.

It was a neat find to come across this picture because we had just left the skyscraper to the far left.  From my rear-view mirror I could see the dust approaching and thought that it was a tornado.  What you can’t see are the mountains that would be in the far south.  Another cloud of dust approached from this area.  Well, this made for an interesting ride home.  These storms block out the light so it was like driving in the middle of the night.  I turned my hazard lights on while driving and was lucky to still have some visibility, otherwise we would have parked somewhere and waited it out.

Immediately after the dust, we had a rain storm.  My car looks like I had been off roading.  What a mess.  I see a trip to the car wash in my immediate future.  We ran from the car to the house and I spent the rest of the evening trying to get that grit out of my eyes and mouth.  In 10 years of living here I have never seen anything quite like this.  I will be grateful though for the free microdermabrasion. 

The desert is such an amazing place; so different from any other place I have been or lived.  We have lightning storms without rain because the air is normally so dry that the rain evaporates before it hits the ground.  I will forever be in awe of the storms here.  Dust included.