Monthly Archives: October 2012

Finding Fall: Pictures from Mom

My Mom sent me these pictures of the turning leaves on the trees near her house one day when I was complaining of missing fall.

Fall Tree

Fall Tree

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Coffee #18

Coffee Polka-Dots

Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.

~Jessi Lane Adams

via: Spilling the Beans

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Happy Friday!

I had two great ideas for a post today. Which is very unusual – I’m usually scrambling to think of something exciting enough to write, which is why I don’t always write consistently. But two ideas! Both fun and not my usual random-story-about-my-life-with-pictures posts. Yay!

And then life got in the way. As it often does. Turns out that our shower has been dumping water into our neighbors kitchen. They’ve known there is a leak, but four bathrooms and kitchens meet up in that corner, so no one knew from where exactly the water was coming. This morning their ceiling caved in and the search for the missing leak got intense really quickly. Maintenance was in and out of our apartment all day (which is totally fine because they’re great and nice and clean up after themselves) but in the end, they couldn’t fix the leak and they need to have a plumber come out. Which will happen on Monday. Until then, we are barred from using our shower/bath tub and have been provided with the key for the apartment model so we can shower there. OoOoOo FUN! HAPPY WEEKEND!

I really don’t think it will be that much of a problem, except for Monday when Nate is getting ready for work. I tend not to shower that much anyway……  .    .      .

So! #1: I’m using this as an incentive to clean off the steps. They have been a handy holding space for all the things we don’t know what to do with. Things currently on our steps: Nate’s guitar and stand, both ironing boards (yes, we own two), two pairs of shoes, my large art portfolio, backpacks, other miscellaneous items. #2: It will be like dorm living all over again! Which could be fun for a weekend, right?! having your shower not be *your* shower (although much cleaner, we were assured the bathroom was clean) and be far away from your sleeping space. I was originally thinking camping, but I think we have too many amenities for that. #3: It’s only a few days and, lets be honest, we’re no stranger to odd living situations and upheaval. The management at our apartment complex as so far been great, as has the maintenance staff. Hopefully this whole thing gets fixed on Monday, for us and our neighbors.

In the mean time, I hope you’re doing something awesome this weekend! We’ll be traipsing across the complex to use the shower. At least our toilet still works.

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Finding Fall: a Corn Maze and a Pumpkin Patch

The weekend before last (the same weekend we had a Friday night picnic) we went in search of some fall activities. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tucson has pumpkin patches and corn mazes too! I don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t be “a thing” here; I guess I thought maybe pumpkins wouldn’t be ripe at the correct time or something. There are also some apple orchards, but they are farther away so we didn’t go to them. Instead, we picked a farm about an hour outside of Tucson that had a pumpkin patch and a corn maze and started our first journey outside of Tucson by car.

I was amazed to realize that we’ve been in Tucson for 4 months and we have never driven out of Tucson (well, the Tucson Metropolitan Area, if you can call it that). We have not ventured into the desert, to the mountains, or even to Phoenix! Every time we leave, it is by plane. So we filled some extra water bottles (isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you drive in the desert?) and began our journey.

Into The Desert

The drive was really pretty. The Sonoran Desert is actually quite green. I spent the whole drive looking around and saying “This is so cool! Look! There are trees, and cactus, and you can see mountains everywhere!” I’m sure that was great for Nate, who was trying to, you know, drive.

We really weren’t sure what to expect when we got there. We had never been to a corn maze in the desert. Would it be like the ones in Ohio? Would it all feel off? At first we thought it was going to be weird because almost everyone else there had kids. But we were quickly so lost in the corn maze that it didn’t matter.


Corn! Just like in the Midwest!

WHAT HAPPENED was that we entered the corn maze and almost immediately got on what we can only assume was the emergency access path that went around the perimeter of the corn maze. We knew we were in trouble pretty quickly because the path was straight and there were no other paths branching off of it. So we walked all the way around the corn maze, in the heat, with the sun beating down on us, and THEN got into the maze and started from the other end. Don’t worry, we brought our water bottles so we didn’t die of dehydration.


We didn’t buy a map for a dollar at the ticket booth because we figured “how hard can this be?!?!” See how well that worked out for us? But once we were actually inside the maze, we did find all of the numbers to punch on our little punch cards fairly easily. Except for the last two, which were supposed to be the first two, and by that time we were hot and tired and hungry and thirsty and maybe a little bit cranky.

Pathways in the Corn

Pathways in the Corn

But it was fun! It was fun getting lost in the corn and giggling when we figured out what had happened. It was fun taking separate paths that always came together again. It was fun trying to be the first one to spot the next marker.


It was fun spotting the little flowers that grew in the corn.


We did eventually make it out of the corn maze. We had an incentive – there was kettle corn! There were some food and beverage stands, a petting zoo, a bull you could ride and get your picture taken with, and a few craft stalls.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn!

We didn’t get a pumpkin. One of the side effects of autumn heat is that it makes your pumpkins rot really quickly. Our neighbors carved some and they wilted within about 2 days. So we just watched as families took the tractor ride out to the pumpkin patch and came back with their big orange loot.

Pumpkin Patch

They grow them big in Arizona

And of course you can see the mountains.

Mountain Pumpkin Patch

Right next to the pumpkin patch? Cotton! Now that’s something you don’t see in Ohio!



Tucson in the Distance

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What I’m Reading: Two Books at Once?!

Looking through my Goodreads friends, it seems that everyone but me is reading several books at once! It’s really not my style – I prefer getting wrapped up in one story at a time, savoring it, living in it, and fully putting it aside before I embark on a (usually completely different) new journey through the next book. I always wonder how they do it – keeping stories and characters and plot lines straight.

Well, this past Saturday, as Nate was watching the 4,839,025th football game of the day, I decided I wanted to read a book. I’ve been reading Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, and I have really been enjoying it. It is the first book in quite a while where the writing is as good as the story. Warren tends to drift off into descriptive and explanatory passages without me even noticing, then he ties it back into the story seamlessly and easily. But All the King’s Men takes a bit of mental energy to read. Not much, but I lose focus pretty easily especially if the TV is on, so I knew it would be useless to try reading it while watching football.

All The King's Men

Luckily, I had just been to the library to pick up a few books that had arrived off my (incredibly long) reserves list. One book that arrived was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I reserved it because it was another book on my reading list but I didn’t expect to like it. I’m not a huge fan of science fiction or fantasy and I certainly would not have read it if it hadn’t made the magic list. But, as soon as it came (and I saw how short it was) I really wanted to read it!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

And so, when I was looking for a book to fill my football-watching time, I picked up The Hitchhiker’s Guide and started reading. I’m not entirely sure this counts as reading multiple books at once, since I finished the book the same day. But I did enjoy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was fun, easy, and short. I think the most interesting part was the different technologies Adams wrote about in the 1970’s that actually exist today! The Hitchhiker’s Guide itself exists on a small box with a screen and buttons, which I saw in my mind as a clunky smart phone, and there is a passage describing how volume knobs on the radio progressed from knobs to buttons to touchscreen to waving your hand around. Very interesting. Of course, there are many technologies we haven’t quite figured out yet!

There are several more Hitchhiker’s Guide books, so I might put them on my reading list too – after I finish the first 140 or so books, of course. And! The best part! Nate seemed interested in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy too! I always get excited when I can share my love of reading.

Now I just have to finish the FIRST book. Which I don’t think will be too much of a chore. Then it’s on to The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

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Coffee #17

Iced Coffee

Coffee falls into the stomach … ideas begin to move, things remembered arrive at full gallop … the shafts of wit start up like sharp-shooters, similies arise, the paper is covered with ink …

~Honore de Balzac

via: Daily Shot of Coffee

Maybe this is why I always get more work done when I’m working in a coffee shop. As long as I’m also drinking coffee, of course.

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Finding Fall: Our Trip to Ohio

Fall has always been my favorite season. Of course it helps that my birthday is in the fall! But I love the cooler temperatures, snuggling under cozy blankets at night while keeping the window open, and the crisp smell of the air. I love warm fall afternoons, especially when they are filled with cross country meets followed by apple cider and watching the turning leaves fall off the trees in my parents’ back yard. I love the colors – the leaves, the apples, the pumpkins, the decorations that begin to adorn neighbors’ front doors. And the smells – the cider, the cinnamon, the leaves, the air.

Of course, it’s still hitting 90° here and even if it were cooler, I don’t think the trees that grow in the desert turn colors quite like the maples do. We’ve been faking it with apples and cider and pumpkin spice lattes and fall candles. We open all the windows at night to capture some of the cool night air, then shut the house up in the morning to hold it in for as long as we can.

Our monthly trip back to Ohio (although this was the last one until the holidays) fell at the end of September. Friends were getting married in North Eastern Ohio and we traveled for the festivities. We caught the very beginnings of Ohio Autumn – trees starting to turn, temperatures starting to drop. It was a beautiful warm bright Saturday for the wedding; a perfect fall day. And we from Arizona got a little taste of fall to take back with us. I just hope it was enough to last until it cools down here.

Highway Trees

Fall leaves along the highway


View over town

Fall TreeAt WeddingWe had an extra day that we weren’t quite sure what to do with. We planned all our Ohio trips so that we flew out of Tucson early Friday morning and flew back Monday night, so that we would have time to visit everyone. This trip was far enough from our family and friends that our typical visiting loop wasn’t as convenient. We stayed with a friend in Columbus on Sunday night, and spent Monday driving around Columbus and eventually hanging out in downtown Gahanna (which is both cute and right by the airport).


Awesome IKEA pillow at friend’s apartment

We had lunch at this adorable French bistro. It was so cozy and the food was good. We had this little back room almost all to ourselves.


La Chatelaine Bakery and Bistro


Walking around in Gahanna

Walking around was dark and dreary and blustery – all the things that Tucson is not right now. We wished we brought jackets, and pulled our light sweaters tighter around us. We walked in and out of little shops – a toy store, a book store, a coffee shop. It can be fun to peruse when you know you won’t buy anything! We had no more room in our luggage, so we just looked and gathered ideas for Christmas gifts.

The trees weren’t fully turned, but they were getting started. Eventually it started to rain. But we headed back to the airport glad to have had a little bit of fall.

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New Sidewalks / New Shoes: Adventures in Walking

One of the things I disliked about our first apartment in Tucson was that it was so far away from everything that it was very hard to walk anywhere. It was also super hot (I think the 90 days over 100° this year were the first 90 days we were here) which made it hard to be outside at all. So when we moved to a bigger place, I wanted to be able to walk places! The walks from our apartment are a bit long, usually over a mile, but the weather has cooled down to the “beautiful” stage that everyone was telling us about (OK, so it still gets near 90° but the evenings are wonderful) and all the basics are walkable – groceries, library, pharmacy, park, church, Starbucks, etc. This weekend was in the 70s so we went on some walking adventures.

Well, it actually started when I took my bike out last week. I’ve outfitted it for hauling groceries and library books and such, with panniers and a rack. The rack that came with the bike did not get along with the panniers and almost led to a wipe-out one bike ride in Cincinnati when the pannier came unhooked and got stuck in my wheel spokes. So I needed a new rack for the back of my bike, and some lights for if I’m ever out after dark. Off I went on my bike to the bike shop, having not really ridden my bike since I was a little kid. I rode a few times in Cincy, but always on back streets with no traffic. It was terrifying. The super-busy main street was actually totally fine. It has a bike lane and is well taken care of – smooth road, no potholes, no gravel. The side roads were quite different. The one with traffic was extra bumpy and had tons of potholes. The one without any traffic was covered in very fine gravel. Because no one has grass here, yards are all covered in gravel. I guess it’s quite hard to keep the gravel in the yard, and it often spills into the street. And gathers in little piles where the traffic pushes it, and makes novice bike riders like me panic a lot.

While I’m on the subject of gravel . . . it’s the gravel that required me to get new shoes. Also, I can always find an excuse for new shoes. But these are not my typical shoes. Usually, when I go shoe shopping, I end up with heels or flats, at least one pair in a bright pattern or color. This time I ended up with these:


on purpose. I wanted sandals that I could walk/bike in, for quite a long way, through the gravel without having sore feet. I grew up in those velcro-strapped sporty sandals – Teva-type but Teva’s were too expensive – and I was looking for the grown-up version of those. Turns out they’re kind of hard to find, especially in October. So I spent several hours going to every shoe store I could find in Tucson and ended up back at DSW (where I started). I hope they will be practical and comfortable and still be appropriate to wear out. We’ll see.

So, for the real story, we thought that we might take our bikes out together over the weekend, but I wasn’t really up for the stress quite yet. We took our trusty feet out for a walk – we got pizza, walked to the park, and had a lovely little picnic. There were tons of people at the park – kids were playing on the playground, people were out walking their dogs and kids, a soccer game was in full swing. We ate our pizza, then lay down on our picnic blanket for a while and enjoyed being outside and in the company of other people. It was a fun Friday night.

Saretta Picnic

Our picnic spot.


Mmmmm, Pizza


Nate’s just really happy that we got pizza for dinner. It doesn’t happen very often.

Picnic Tree

The big pine tree we sat under.


If you look closely, you can see the mountains.


Church at the edge of the Park

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Coffee #16

The (giant) coffee that got me through moving day.

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., “Over the Teacups,” 1891

via: Spilling the Beans

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