We cannot sweep over whole streets, but every one of us can sweep our own door-step, and if we will do it quietly and regularly, anon our right and left-hand neighbors will follow, and before long the whole street will be swept. ~ Henry Williams

01 April 2013


... perhaps.

I can't believe I haven't been here in over a year - closer to a year and a half, really.  Facebook has claimed a lot of my computer time, the rest belongs to Life.  I wonder if this happens to other bloggers.  Have we quit blogging to become slaves to the near-instantaneous social gratification of Facebook, Twitter and such?  I no longer visit any blogs with regularity, not that I ever really did.  But I do enjoy the information that flows through my Facebook feed.  It's quick bites - easy to chew - although some are difficult to swallow.

It is interesting to me, as well, that we are sharing more and more intimacies with "friends" that don't really know us well.  Is it vanity?  To some extent, yes, I think.  I'll admit to that.  I like posting a photo and having someone "like" it or comment on it.  It's also an easy way to keep in touch with people, and it certainly can make one feel less lonely, particularly if one is ill or home-bound for some reason or other.

Blogging, though, cost me dearly.  I lost a friend and children because of the ease with which one can cause pain through quick words.  I've tried to make amends, but to no avail.  Sad - and sort of not.  Ironically, if I were to meet this woman today, we would never be friends.  We had a history, and maybe that is what sustained us, but we are nothing alike, and she is unlike any of my other friends.  What once was is clearly gone, although I wish it had passed with an acknowledgment and forgiveness rather than the abrupt hostility.  As a dedicated Catholic, I find it rather astonishing that she doesn't practice what she has preached.  But enough of that... I sent her flowers on her birthday, received no acknowledgment whatsoever, and so with yet another sigh, I give up.  I do miss being able to watch her children grow up.  She got her greatest revenge by taking from me two beings that I truly loved. 

So, here I am deciding if I'm going to blog or not.  And if I do, why?  Just to get it out in longer more thoughtful bits than I do on Facebook?  I have found it entertaining to go back and look at my own trip journals, just to see what I was thinking at the time.  The comments can be fun, too.  The photos show how we've all changed over time.  I think I'm even a bit surprised that Blogger hasn't been extinguished by the succession of Social Media "improvements."  How does it compete?

I'll see how it goes... if it's cathartic, I'll continue.  I still have Linked In to contend with (need to update that!), and my own on-line resume for our company's intranet (far behind).  It's true, time flies.  And honestly, I was pretty happy to see 2012 in the rear view mirror.  Now it's April... the first quarter is behind me and opportunity stretches before me.  Perhaps my days will include some time here...

29 June 2011

Huh... Time for a Hump Day Hodge-Podge

How is that some people can come up with something to write every single day?  I'm lucky if I manage once a week - more likely once a month.  (Isn't that a lovely sunset?  I wish it would monsoon, then I'd be out herping and actually have something cool to write about - I mean, who doesn't want to see bad-ass photos of lizards and snakes?  Well, except you, Jay, but I'll put a fair warning in the title.)

Hey, it's been hot! I know, that's a  newsflash for June in Phoenix.  The thermometer in my car was reading 118 on Monday - I'm hoping that was wrong, but the plants in my yard tend to confirm the high temps by crisping up and gasping their last.  I don't care how many umbrellas I put up, the vegetation is going down.  Except for the Bermuda grass which grows all the places I DON'T want it to, and none of the place I DO.  Friggin' grass.

Okay, you have to admit, the umbrellas are inspired.  I went to the Good Will last night and got two more to put over the eggplants.  One of them is a rather hideous purple and the other one is covered with cactus and ponies.  I don't think the eggplant are very choosy, though.  It's ponies or die, really. (oh, and I just whack off the handles with a hammer and then duct tape them - love duct tape - to garden stakes - genius!  Jus' sayin')

Although it's kind of hard to see, Tree Man got a sassy new garden glove (it's green - it's supposed to look like he's holding the plant, like a lantern...) Tree Man is great company when I have a glass of champagne and am sitting on the park bench under his branches.

Now, when Steve is home, I'm quite tidy and a bit obsessive about keeping everything picked up.  When he's gone... shhh... I slip out of Monica Mode and let things go to Hell.  When I can't stand it any longer, or I start losing things in the pile - like the registration tags for the car - then I know it's time to pick up.  Of course, since Steve will be home today, everything is back in pristine condition - which will last approximately 15 seconds once he walks in the door.  That's why I love that man.

Fun Job Stuff...

This week was a semi-annual sample collection event AND the installation of a pressure transducer (the Global Logger WL16).  That's one of things I like about my job.  It's never, ever, the same and it looks like July is going to be a busy month.

This is the business end of the WL16 - well that and two 1/2" diameter, 12" long, stainless steel rods held in place with a couple of radiator clamps - that's to keep the transducer weighted down and, hopefully, in place.

The transducer is placed behind a weir and will measure water level, which, through the magic of a simple mathematical calculation, will tell us the flow.  Cool, eh?  The encased data cable and pressure tubing is the yellow cable, and the bubble-wrapped package contains the batteries and a USB port with which to upload data.  No kinks, so the pressure tubing can do it's thing.  The lovely part is that when the barometric pressure changes, it changes equally on both sides of the transducer so that we're able to measure the water pressure alone.  After taking it's measurements (programmed to whatever schedule you want - continuously, every five minutes, every two hours, whatever), the data can be uploaded to a lap-top (or whatever) through the USB port and then the data analyzed.  Voila!

Oooh... we have a pond lily blooming in, uh, the pond out back.  Makes up for all the string algae - the fish seem to be doing fine (little gambusia).

Well, I know this has probably been almost as thrilling to read as it was to write.  I completely left out the part about Boobapalooza: Talking Titties. I'll have to do that next time.  Right now, I have to go cover the eggplants.

18 June 2011

Presence in the Garden

Do you ever work yourself into a frenzy in the garden so you'll have a nice place to sit and drink coffee in the morning, or have friends over for cocktails in the evening, or just have a glass of wine and watch the sun set, and then never actually do it? 

The act of gardening, in and of itself, is a pleasurable pastime for me.  I get into a kind of zone where I lose track of time, don't eat, get sunburned, cut and scratched, tear my fingernails and stub my toes.  When I finally come to, I realize I'm hot, sweaty, tired, bruised, and have blood running down my knuckle from who knows what.  It's wonderful.

Lately, though, in spite of the heat, I've taken some time to actually just sit in the garden.  One morning it was with a cup of coffee on the back porch while 'Clem dozed on the adjacent chair.  Last night, I sat under the grapefruit tree with a glass of wine while 'Clem stretched out on the cooler grass.  At first I thought maybe I was feeling depressed, but when I started examining my thoughts, I realized it was simple reflection. Then nothing. 

I sat and watched the birds foraging before settling in for the evening.  The sun was setting behind me, out of sight, but I could see a golden tinge on the tree tops.  I listened to the gentle splash of the waterfall and the breeze rustling the stalks of the sunflowers.  When the sun was down, I plugged in the twinkle lights.  I still have some arranging to do in that area, but they looked warm.  I imagine it will be quite cozy under this wonderful tree when cooler weather approaches and we wrap ourselves in a warm blankets.

All my friends have wonderful gardens here in Willo.  We swap plants and other accouterments with regularity (I adore my neighborhood family.)  Twinkle lights to Mary J and I receive prickly pear pads.  Tracy gets my carefully nurtured Chinese elm, and leaves a shrimp plant and fresh apricots on my back porch.  Julie brought me a cucumber plant - I gave her bedding for Tiny.  Mary B gave me some totem pole cactus cuttings, I helped fill her bin with citrus for the food bank.  Mary Lynn has sent pots and a wonderful large tree bin my way.  I'll be helping her measure her square footage of grass.  Jill makes homemade sorbet and plies us with Prosecco and we help get her shade cloth over the patio cover. 

When stuff starts to ripen, it's shared: grapefruits, lemons, oranges, chard, herbs, eggplant, whatever we have, really...  and the dishes at potluck will reflect our bounty, as well.  Matt and Denise, next door, have tomatoes, green beans, basil, peppers... I had dinner on them this week.  When the peaches came in, Steve R left a freshly baked cobbler on my back porch.  Rumor has it I have an apple pie coming, as well.

It's hard in the summer... to keep the garden going.  Dedication.  Decisions.  We do best in Spring and Fall.  But, nonetheless it calls, and I've coffee to savor and the garden beckons before the heat of the day will make me retreat to the house... or not.

10 June 2011

To the Here and Now

Oh, sure, I could have "been something."  I've got the parchments to prove it.  I was on the fast track; glancing over my shoulder, pushing to stay ahead, get the promotion, the raise.  Then something changed.  A laid-back geologist entered my life and I started to live.

Recently, I began wondering (again), if I'd made a bad decision (career-wise, not the geologist).  Is it enough to work part-time as an environmental scientist without any aspirations for greater achievement?  (I don't want to be a Project Manager, or an Associate, or a Principal.  I like having time that is mine.)  Is something really missing from my life or am I simply feeling guilty about liking things just the way they are?  What's wrong with me that I don't want more: money, expensive cars, televisions...anything really.  (Except I do like my wines to score 90 points or better.)

I hunger for the simple things: puttering in my garden; taking care of our home; spending time with friends and family; spending time with my geologist and resolving the issues that crop up daily - plumbing, bills, termites - so that he doesn't have to deal with them.  Truly, our needs are simple and our wants are few (well, except for the living-room full of guitars, amps, and something called a "Jam Man."  I'm also sort of coveting Jill's gelato machine.)

So, today I'm raising my glass in a toast to the Present Moment.  Living, laughing, and loving right now.   It's not instant gratification - it's embracing the only thing I truly have which is this instant in time.  Would I rather read a technical journal on recent advances in tectonics theory, or stroke the kitty and listen to him purr?  I'll bet you know the answer to that one.  (Although I am going to BevMo to pick up my order - 5 Cent Sale time.)

"Our innate idiosyncrasies are actually more endearing to others than our most glorious personal achievements." ~ Veronique Vienne, The Art of Imperfection

So, go have an imperfect day, and love every minute of it!

29 April 2011

Are there really any "new" experiences?

Is it possible to say or write something that hasn't already been said or written hundreds, thousands, millions of times before?  (Language is limiting, yet we think with words.  Is our experience richer if we have a more extensive vocabulary?)  

Is my story the same as yours?  The episodes just rearranged?  Slightly different characters playing bit parts in my own drama?  A parade of sensory inputs; floats marching before me this way and you that? 

I go to Chicago and someone from Chicago comes to Phoenix and when all is said and done, do we feel differently?  Or is it exactly the same?

"Just blew in from the Windy City, the Windy City is mighty pretty... "   Calamity Jane

A real grown up big city, unlike any other city I've been in that I can recall.  The buildings are tall and it's quite flat, and it's vibrant at midnight, and one can take the "El" everywhere - so we did.

Literally, right out of the gate, I knew Chicago was going to be something when I discovered automatic seat cover changers on the toilets in the loo at the airport.  Friggin' brilliant!  No more hovering!  (And if you look on YouTube, apparently I'm not the only one who thinks this is outstanding.)

The Public Transportation is the bomb!  Our accommodations on Lake Michigan Avenue were just two blocks from the Loop, so we took the El to:
  • Wrigley Field - Diamondbacks vs Cubs (6/4)
  • Museum of Science and Industry (Very Cool!)
  • Old Town School of Folk Music to see David Grisman and his Quintet Plus
  • Reptile Fest courtesy of the Chicago Herpetological Society
  • SPACE to see David Bromberg and Angel Band

This man was singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," while we were waiting for the El.  He had a beautiful voice.

Game Day.  We're across the street at Cubby Bear's.

Steve up against the brick wall.

Legendary fare at Cubby Bear's.

It was so cold (at least for us Desert Dwellers), that Steve had to buy a new scarf.

Those seats are cold on the tushy!

Batting practice.

At the Museum of Science and Industry.  This little boy was waiting, patiently, for the pendulum "clock" to knock over a pin (demonstrating that the earth does, in fact, rotate.)

Before seeing David Grisman and his Quintet Plus at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Steve and I popped into "Fork" for beer flights, cheese flights, and charcuterie.  It was delicious!  (And the music was great, too!)

Cheese and Charcuterie at Fork.

Our last night in Chicago, we went to SPACE (Society for the Preservation of Art and Culture in Evanston), to see David Bromberg and Angel Band.  It was one of the best performances I have ever seen.  Truly.

Everywhere else we walked:
  • Millennium Park
  • The shore of Lake Michigan
  • Chicago Art Museum
  • Dining (Emerald Loop, Giordano's, Fork, Blind Faith Cafe, Lucky's - as seen on "Man vs Food")

The "Corn Cobs" made a great landmark.

The giant shiny silver jelly bean at Millennium Park.

Of course,  I had to TOUCH the giant silver jelly bean.

Seating at the amphitheater at Millennium Park.  I liked the red.

Steve admiring some weaponry at the Chicago Art Institute.

I gave up photographing the impressionist art and just got the signatures and frames.

And why NOT take your picture with all those mirrors?!

And we got to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Dana, and her son, Cam.  (We had dinner at the Emerald Loop and then walked to Union Station to see them off on the train.)  It's can be really pleasant to meet a cyber-friend in person, and this did not disappoint!

When we returned to Phoenix, we took the shuttle from the airport to the lightrail station, and then walked from the lightrail home (for comparative purposes).  I'm really liking the public transportation thing.   Our lightrail has a loooong way to go before it can begin to compete with Chicago, DC, and so forth, but it was nice, nonetheless.

And so, when all is said and done, maybe my story is just like Everywoman's story of travel to a different city.  I don't feel changed essentially, but broadened with a new experience.  Returning gave me a clearer lens to view my own city - which I have decided I love in spite of its (many) flaws.

11 April 2011

Trifecta (or Something) at the DBG

... Yes, we're back from Chicago but first, I really need to post about my spontaneous jaunt to the Desert Botanical Garden

It started out unlike any other day because, for starters, I got out of bed before 8:00.  And this was made even more amazing because it was a Monday and I hadn't really held back at the Sunday potluck.  So, I got up - early - and was at United Blood Services by 7:30 to donate a pint of my precious (A-) bodily fluid.  That's right - I've got rare blood ("Find the Hero in you!").  It's probably not as good as "V," but in demand nonetheless.

Now a pint shy, I decided it would be a good day to go try out the 55-250 zoom lens and tulip hood I got for the Canon so I could get better shots of the lizards that always scoot before I get a chance for that "up close" moment.  The DBG is a great place for this since I knew I could experiment on flowers and cacti if there weren't any cooperative herps.  (Plus there are lots of drinking fountains and snack bars.)

Well, SCORE!  I felt like a genius, because not only were the flowers beautiful, but the Spring Butterfly Exhibit was open, A Desert Illuminated (photography by John Schaefer) was on display, the Scottsdale Artists League's 16th Annual Spring Paint-out show and sale was up and running, and the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society was holding its annual show and sale!  I was happier than a pig in shit and I got some decent lizard pics to boot!

Fruiting Barrel Cactus

Golden Barrel Cacti

Spiny Lizard


Ground Squirrel

Zebra Longwing

Spicebush Swallowtail

Some sort of succulent ;-D

Another succulent ;-D

Blooming Cactus
What's not to love about spring time in the desert?

25 March 2011

It's Friday...

... do you know where your bottle is?

Okay, seriously, I don't know why this is sideways.
Crazy times at Chez Rat.  Tracy and I have been waiting until the last minute to prepare bottle tags, centerpieces and our raffle items for the DOVES "Iron in the Desert II fundraiser."  (For some reason, we were put in charge of the wine - not as easy as it sounds.)

Our vision was "organic" and "rustic" and in keeping with the evening's theme of iron.  Hence, pretty much everything got wrapped in bailing wire. 

I'd like to say we were "on it" straight out of the gate, but, frankly, that would be a lie.  After the initial two-case donation from Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar and the funds for an additional case from my parents (Thanks, Mom and Dad!), we stalled and then hung on for the BevMo! 5-Cent Sale.  Wine: Check!

Then it got complicated.  We wanted tags on the bottles we were going to sell, some sort of centerpiece advertising the fact that if you didn't want to cough up $5 a glass for wine you could go for the "deal" and buy and entire bottle (with the cute tags), and then we each created an item for the raffle.  Tracy did one of her fabulous handbag-from-an-old-cigar-box with a semi-raunchy cowgirl on the side, and I made cowgirl-inspired note cards (boots, of course).  The centerpiece took not less than five trips around the block to Tracy's for editing and artistic critique.

It took a lot of champagne to complete all our little projects, PLUS beer on St. Patty's Day, when Mary J. generously gave of her time and creativity to wrap bailing wire around river rocks.  (It looks cooler than it sounds.)  I think that all-in-all, our efforts paid off. (Click pictures to Bigify.)

Stationary Set: 8 Note Cards - 2 of Each Design.  Bailing Wire Embellishment on Box. (It's supposed to be a pony frolicking in the sunshine, but it looks more like a poodle, I know.  I'm blaming that on Lola, that's all I'm sayin'.)

Centerpiece - Front Side

Centerpiece - Backside

Oh, Yeah!  The Rocks Are Sweet!  You Know You Want One!

My Dining Room - Rocks, Wine, Bailing Wire... What Could Be Better?

Tracy's Super Sweet Cigar Box Hand Bag. ("Ooooh, I fell off the mean pony!")

So, the Big Event is tomorrow.  Whew!  Yeah, I was folding the cards for the centerpieces this morning before Dona arrived to pick everything up.  BUT, now it's done and I can start fretting over my next project (right after Happy Hour!).

Addendum:  Sadly, Happy Hour became a Little-Less-Happy Hour when Tracy and I discovered an inconsistency and an omission in the table-top menu when compared to the brochure.  Up early this morning to try and correct same and reprint fifty copies - then discovered another correction needed to be made this afternoon.  That Five-Dollar-Beer is gonna taste REALLY GOOD!