Monday, November 29, 2010

Wonderful Visits & New Volunteering Opportunities

Greetings to all! Happy Monday night. I got home from dropping Pat off at the airport not too long ago. It sounds like he had some trouble getting his ticket (at some point a woman said to him, “You shouldn’t even have been able to leave Spokane…”, and later a Travelocity representative said via phone, “Are you SURE you’re in Tucson? You made it to Tucson from Spokane?”), but he was finally able to board at 7 p.m. bound for a Salt Lake City layover before landing in Spokane. Of course, it remains to be known if he will be held in Salt Lake City due to snow conditions. So he may have an interesting night ahead of him.

We had a wonderful time together. We tried out a restaurant called Bamboo Club last night for a drink and appetizers. We got a little bit of shopping done – I think we both were just looking around for Christmas ideas, although not much materialized. It will take a while to get used to having the apartment to myself again. He did leave me with some good new music to listen to, though (Kings of Leon’s new stuff) and a new book to read (the third of a fourpolly sent from my sister), so at least I’ve got some things to stay occupied with for a while. 

Upon arriving in Tucson, I set about looking for volunteer opportunities. I spent two or three years of college volunteering at a nursing home (with Sara) and found the experience to reap unparalleled rewards. Learning from the older generations, and watching them meet difficult challenges, has taught me so much. I was therefore very excited to start that back up with the free time I’d have down here. Unfortunately, a lot has changed since I volunteered in Ellensburg. A minimum of 30 training hours and a tetanus shot must be administered before you can even apply to be a volunteer now. Sad story. After much personal debate, though, I finally found something that fits my personality – I applied for and have been matched to write a ‘pen pal’ prisoner in Texas through God Cares We Care ministry. Maybe it’s a little bit ‘out there’ for some of you, but I hope you can at least appreciate that it utilizes my free time, my love of writing letters, and my love of loving other people, despite their backgrounds. So… I got my first letter today and will be responding to it shortly. Just wanted to share my excitement with you – it feels good to ‘volunteer’ and help other people again.

Not too much else new. Again, I had a great time with Pat. We made use of the hot tub and pool, watched some good movies, ate a ridiculous amount of food and took everything very slow. I’m very lucky to have had company over the holiday weekend. Now it’s back to the grindstone of working, which really isn’t all that bad, anyhow. The weather should be warming back up to the 70s by Wednesday, and it couldn’t happen fast enough for me. My toes are freezing as I write this.

Love you all!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Weekend Greetings

Sigh, what a wonderful feeling it is to know I have tomorrow off - THREE DAYS IN A ROW! I picked Pat up from the airport at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving day and we had a good time making dinner together that afternoon. Aside from the pie that was slightly on the unsweet side (although when we lathered it with toppings we couldn't tell as much), everything was a huge success. We had squash, marinated chicken, stuffing, cranberries and braeburn apples. Today we went up to Summerhaven, which is a beautiful hour long-ish drive to the top of Mt. Lemmon. We then checked out the shopping scene at Old Navy, but didn't buy anything (the line was all the way to the back of the store!). Next was a stop at In n Out for burgers (Pat had never had it before! Check that off the bucket list ;) and watched The Expendables, which is a silly, over-the-top, but wonderful action flick with Sylvester Stallone (yes, it DOES include an exploding helicopter! And an exploding palace, which is also good).

We've got a few things on the books for tomorrow, but for the most part we're playing it by ear. I've been thinking of you all constantly and hoping the holiday is full of laughter, good food and lots of relaxing. Love you all bunches. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Notes While Baking in the Morning

Greetings from the sunny land of Tucson. We had a huge chill come through last night, but nothing like the blizzard that swept Spokane, from how I understand it. I hope everyone is SAFE and happily covered in layers of blankets (or in Jill and Gordon's case, moving swiftly down a hill in some fashion of kayak, skis or sled).

Things here are going very well. Only two more days of work until I get company in town and a three day weekend. I'm very excited. Pat and I don't have a whole lot on the schedule, but there are a few restaurants and bars I want to try out (hopefully play a little pool, if I'm lucky), and a day trip to Summerhaven (that will lead us back up to Mt. Lemmon - I'm excited to go back!!).

I've currently got the pumpkin baking in the oven and a load of laundry getting washed, so I'm feeling all kinds of productive this morning. (Also, my apartment smells delicious!) I did, however, buy an extra already-made pumpkin pie in case this one goes south. I'm crossing my fingers! I'll let you know in two days, I guess. :)

Nothing much else to report. I tried to make yam for dinner last night and it was only semi-successful. Baby steps, though. Baby steps.

Turns out Marvin isn't as depressed as I thought! He was just allergic to Energize batteries. When the noise from the air pump began to sound something similar to an agonizing whimper last night, I switched out the batteries for Duracell and BAM Marvin was up and pumped and full of life like you wouldn't believe! Who knows, though. He may relapse. I'll keep ya posted.

Well, I'm signing off for now, but please send me updates on how you're spending this wonderful, snowy day (work? play? books? anything I should read?).

All my snowy love,

The Bait

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Muck

It's a Sunday morning and I am not feeling motivated to get anything done at all. :) Although I have a rather short 'to do' list, I think I will leave the bulk of it for tomorrow morning. It is the first cloudy morning since I moved into my new apartment, so perhaps cooler weather is on its way after all. Work has been going well and only four more days til I have company and a three day weekend. :)

I'm preparing to make pumpkin pie filling soon, and I have a question for everyone - Is there something to do with all the muck and seeds inside? Laura's instructions only have me use the actual pumpkin shell, but I seem to remember Grandma keeping the muck for some reason or another. Is there something I should be doing with it??


Friday, November 19, 2010

Art, Sun, Hiking and Holiday Countdowns!

Happy Friday to everyone! Of course, it’s not MY Friday, but there are worse things that can happen. I had a wonderful day off yesterday – started with some exploring to track down a few galleries. I ended up in the right area, but it is a very congested section of town, full of confusing one ways, so I ended up only looking at two galleries. Still, it is good to have finally given it a try, and I know where ‘gallery row’ is now in case I want to go back again sometime. The first gallery wasn’t impressive at all, unfortunately, but the second was incredibly interesting. It wasn’t your typical gallery with just a few striking paintings on the wall – it was almost like three huge rooms of someone’s unorganized office; artwork EVERYwhere – on the walls, on the floor, stacked against the wall, one behind the other. Most of the artists had some sort of connection with Arizona; either they lived here for a while or captured the landscape at some point in their lives. I saw a statue by Erte, who, as it turns out, is really well known. I can see why. I’m not that big into statues, but these are small enough, and combine just enough style to be captivating. It’s like a cross between the 1920s and Egyptian art. Very strange, but very awesome. Two others I liked were George Bodine and Kelly Murray. (That second link is actually the gallery's home link, too.)

Second on my list for the day was sun tanning. It had been a week, if not more, since I spent any time in the sun. And OH what a perfect day it was for that! Later in the afternoon, Ryan (co-worker) and I went for a hike on Mt. Lemmon. The drive was forever long (only about 30 miles away, but most of it is windy, 30 mph stuff), but very worth it for the views. There is a very small ski resort up there that we drove through, which was also interesting. Apparently it is the only place to ski for several hours in all directions.

Today is another sunny morning. Reginald is sun bathing in the corner… making some progress toward growing, but not a whole heck of a lot. (True, Herold is a family name, AND Christmassy ;), but not quite artsy enough – I think Reginald fits him very well, though). I will need to drive down to the coffee shop in a moment to send this out to you all, since my STUPID internet won’t connect. Six days til Thanksgiving!!! Wahoo!

Oh, and the license plates of the day are: LEXUS and WINK 1.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photo Op

Greetings! Not a whole lot new to say today, but I did end up taking a few photos yesterday that I wanted to share with you. The first is the gorgeous tree outside my living room window that lights up brilliantly with the morning sun (of course, the photo doesn’t do it justice). The second is a picture of my new house plant – an amaryllis that my Grandma mailed to me. If I’m lucky, it’ll bloom at Christmas. Anyone have any suggestions for a name? I think it’s a guy, if that helps. The rest are photos from work. (Kara, I tried to get one of your parents, but I didn’t realize how camera-shy your mom was; apparently I have to be very sneaky to succeed in that plot.)

Love you all!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tents, Eating, Sadness (tents eating sadness!? oh my!)

Greetings from AZ! I'm happy to say the permanent tent has been up for several days now and everyone absolutely loves it. Laura (of Laura and Randy Wise - my bosses) did an amazing job of arranging and decorating everything. I will hopefully have more pictures up for you soon, so you can see our progress.

I am less excited to tell you that my eating habits have reverted back to what we'll call the 'college era' diet, relying primarily on boxed goods of the breakfast variety. However, Pat will be spending four days with me around Thanksgiving, and I'm hoping to try out squash for the first time (John Henry - do you have any advice for simple things I could do to make it more tasty?), and perhaps a few other things. Even if I'm not eating the greatest, though, I certainly still am learning a lot about food - and loving it! Laura knows a bazillion easy recipes for all the food we sell and I love picking her brain about apple sauces, pumpkin butter, zucchini bread, etc.

Today I got the very, very sad news that a classmate of mine from kindergarden through graduation died in a car accident. His name was Travis Rearden, and although we didn't keep in touch after graduation, people tend to have special places in your heart after 15 years together. That, and my ongoing worries over Joe Johnson (he's recovering from a rock climbing fall) really threw my morning for a loop. Well, and also my stomach isn't happy about something I ate last night. So I was a little quiet at work today and Laura asked if anything was wrong and ended up letting me take the rest of the day off - I am VERY thankful to be working for these two wonderful, understanding people!

In any case, the news about Travis reminded me that we never knew when we'll go, and it's important to be making the most of everything. I've had a couple of rough days here and there when the distance between me and everything that is dear to me seemed to be a bit much. But, the sad news of the day put some things into better perspective; I feel good that I've taken this plunge, that I'm seeing and learning new things, and making the most of opportunities.

Here is Joe's mailing address - even if you don't know him well, I urge you to send him a quick pick-me-up. He is a very incredible individual and about the closest thing I have to a brother - I'd love it if we could flood his mailbox with encouragement.

PO Box 642
Tonasket, WA 98855

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Minutes, Meditation & Music in the Morning

Well! I had a startling revelation this morning (which is usually when they happen, strangely enough, but in my opinion, the most unfortunate time of the day for it): I have used 712 of the 450 minutes I have been allotted by Verizon to talk on my phone. This can only be construed as a compliment to all my Washington loves; I've spent 712 minutes telling you how much I love you! Unfortunately, it also means a very grim-looking bill. So if I don't return your call for 10 days, it's not because I don't love you - it's because my bill cycle renews in 10 days. Sigh, it will be a long one. ;)

In other unrelated news, I've learned there is a monkery (Buddhist temple) very close to my house and I hope to investigate it soon. Some temples, of course, don't want you there unless you are Buddhist. Others, though, offer meditation classes for just about anyone. So, I'll report back on that later.

Here is a video to help get you started in the morning. It is silly. But it is happy. Jill & Gord: this music reminds me of your house (after the first cup of coffee) when you two start buzzing about with cleaning and cooking. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The 70s (the temperature, not the decade), Crazy Red, Big Tents and Rating Xx

Greetings from Tucson! It is another bright morning, but clouds are out and about; I've been warned by a customer that the overextended summer weather will be bidding its leave soon, so perhaps we will be graduating to 70-degree weather soon. (It is very true that you get used to the warm weather here quickly - I would be overjoyed and donning shorts in Washington's 70-degree weather. Somehow, here it is not so.)

I haven't done a whole heck of a lot these past couple of days, but it's taken me a little bit to get used to working afternoons. Perhaps tomorrow I will work up the gumption to see some art galleries before my shift. We'll see. I have, however, managed to experience a few local venues, work out (meagerly) a few times in the cardio fitness room on site, and now am the proud owner of a Fry's membership card. I'm hoping these few things somehow redeem my otherwise lazy schedule.

The guys at work started setting the big tent up yesterday, but it is slow going so far. If we are lucky, though, it will be up by the end of the day today. We are all getting very, very, very tired of the temporary tents, which are too willing to follow the wind's every desire. Laura found some locally made jam and BBQ sauce so our inventory is ever-expanding... I had my eye on the jams yesterday and I might have to break down and buy some (they have PEAR and PLUM flavors, for crying out loud! My taste buds are just dying to try it).

So! It is decided - I will be dying my hair Crazy Red at the start of December. And I'm rather excited for it. Unfortunately, I'll probably finally LOOK like the over-zealous, flighty, slightly-off person I am, but I've been fooling people long enough - perhaps it'll be a civic favor to let people know what their getting into before striking a conversation.

I've made a few additions to my music list on the right. I hope you all will give them a try if you have time. I'm also very intrigued by a band called Xx (not risque, don't worry), but haven't necessarily made up my mind quite yet (Kara, you should look them - you might dig it!).

I hope this finds you all well. STRANGELY enough, I do find myself missing the crisp, cold PNW air. Enjoy it for me!

Oh, and Marvin gives his condolences. Not about anything in particular - just about life in general. His, apparently, isn't getting any better.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

News on a Day Off

Greetings! My, my – it is hard to believe I’ve only been here about two and a half weeks. It feels like much longer than that! However, considering that I haven’t been out to see many venues and attractions yet, it does make me feel slightly better knowing I am still new to this place.

Eugene showed up mid afternoon on Friday with a HUGE truckload of supplies, tools and the permanent tent. We’ll be setting that up on Monday. Today is my day off, which feels nice. I haven’t done a whole lot with it, but I’m making progress in both my tan and my book, so that’s good.

My music mix has been filled with a lot of KT Tunstall lately, as well as some Snow Patrol and Bruce (of course). I recently finished the book High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsoliver (thanks to Gracie), and am now halfway through Changeless (the second in a Vampire/Wolf steam punk series – thanks to Jaima). I have a handful of others awaiting my attention once this one is done.

The weather has been nice lately, after those horrible, HORRIBLE three and half days of Ellensburgian wind. I think I can notice a slight decrease in the temperature, though, and a lot of the locals have mentioned their surprise that ‘summer’ has held on this long – it sounds as though my days of poolside sunbathing may be numbered (I know, poor me).

Yesterday was a MARKED improvement from the prior weekend in regard to sales at the stand (possibly to do with Halloween busyness last weekend), which is pretty encouraging. I’m sure it wasn’t anything compared to what the I-90 stand is used to getting, but this was a constant, steady flow of people buying in semi-bulk, so that’s good. It’s kinda funny, though – people get all huffy about wanting everything to be ‘local.’ Unfortunately, Arizona produces bare-minimum beyond lettuce and pistachios. Do they WANT us to ONLY sell those things? It’s as if they're offended when we bring GOOD stuff in from California, as though we had some other closer alternative. Goodness. So... we have to reeducate every person, one by one, in a polite, non-offensive way. And every time, they are surprised. At first. And then, finally, each one concedes that not much can grow in their climate. Ahh….. dealing with mass amounts of public, what bliss.

More later!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Report on Local Establishments, Depressed Mattresses and The Like

I've successfully completed my first load of laundry here on the apartment premises, which uses a prepaid card system rather than quarters, so the task is a feat of sorts for first timers. Apparently the card system is fairly widespread down here; my co-worker's old apartment used the same thing. In any case, I feel like that solidifies my residency here. And I like it.

I tried out the local grocery chain, Frys, today (it seems to be Tucson's equivalent to Rosauers in Spokane, although slightly more modern in inside appearances). Although I didn't have a membership card, I managed to buy about eight items for under $12, so I'm not entirely sure I didn't rob them, but no one chased after me, so... I suppose that means I'm going back there next time! :)

Another local 'gem' is Eegee's. It's much like Subway, as far as I can tell, except that it was founded in Tucson and it offers overly sugary iced drink concoctions (one called an 'eegee,' another called a 'teagee.' Barf on the cheesiness). In any case, there is one located just two businesses down from us at work, so I've wasted a good chuck of money on it so far. The food is good, to be sure, but I'm alarmed at how MANY of them are around! They seem to be the Starbucks of Tucson - you can't go two blocks without seeing another one! A true Tucson obsession.

I'm continually disappointed with the lack of fashion consciousness Tucsonians employ (is that the right reference for people who live in Tucson?). I saw two people (TWO!) today walking around in PAJAMAS. Really, people. Disappointing.

I am still very content with my apartment. Unfortunately, my air mattress has been feeling a bit homesick lately and is not happy at all about the move. It seems to have been afflicted with a Marvin-like depression; much like the downcast robot in 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,' it simply does NOT find any satisfaction in any productive activity; namely being inflated and staying inflated. It fights with me on a DAILY basis in this regard. Inflating it has become an activity I need to budget a good five or ten minutes for - I know! Absurd. In any case, I think I'm going to start calling it Marvin.

Well, I hope this finds you all well. It sounds like Washington is getting colder and colder by the day. Is the snow in the mountains sticking yet?

Much love!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Election Day!

Greetings on this fine election day! It was a windy one here, which meant all kinds of trouble at the stand (the large tents would have much rather been gusting over the city instead of being planted in the ground like good, shade-providing objects). I am proud to say I saw a great many customers with 'I voted' stickers on their shirts, although for the most part, people were pretty quiet about political matters; it seems the far left and far right live in very close proximity here and they've learned to shy away from public arguments.

I've gotten accustomed to the new apartment complex and am very happy with it still. Although noise through the narrower corridors tends to echo, it rarely bothers me during the middle of the night, which is the time that matters most to me. ;) The walls are a slight bit bare, and the furniture is... well, 'minimal,' but it suits me just fine.

My skin is getting DARK already. Unfortunately, since I wear jeans at work, my legs are looking alien compared to my arms, but I suppose that doesn't really hurt anything.

I won't have another day off until next Sunday, but another recruit from Washington (Eugene - he has helped with Wises with the I-90 stand for several years)will be coming into town on Friday so I think our work schedule will even out eventually. Oh, and it sounds like I'll be working a few local farmers markets soon, which makes me both very happy and very full of Spokane memories. :)

I hope this finds you well. Here are a few more pictures of the strange vegetation in the area.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Excerpt from Mary Oliver's "Evidence"


Where do I live? If I had no address, as many people do not, I could nevertheless say that I lived in the same town as the lilies of the field, and the sill waters.


I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.

As for the body, it is solid and strong and curious and full of detail; it wants to polish itself; it wants to love another body; it is the only vessel in the world that can hold, in a mix of power and sweetness: words, song, gesture, passion, ideas, ingenuity, devotion, merriment, vanity, and virtue.

Keep room in your heart for the unimaginable.


There are many ways to perish, or to flourish.

How old pain, for example, can stall us at the threshold of function.


Still friends, consider stone, that is without the fret of gravity, and water that is without anxiety.

And the pine trees that never forget their recipe for renewal.

And the female wood duck who is looking this way and that way for her children. And the snapping turtle who is looking this way and that way also. This is the world.

And consider, always, every day, the determination of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles.


I ask you again: if you have not been enchanted by this adventure--your life--what would do for you?

And, where are you, with your ears bagged down as if with packets of sand? Listen. We all have much more listening to do. Tear the sand away. And listen. The river is singing.