Category Archives: Daily Life

Status Report: August 2014

One year three months and twenty-some days after my last actual life update, life is so very much different from what it was. I got a job, for one thing. A real, live, full-time, every day (sometimes drudgery) job. Not in architecture. But let’s not dwell on that. Nate is still loving his job, which is fantastic and I’m always so glad that he loves his work since we’re not entirely sold on Tucson otherwise. He spent nine months doing the full-time work/part-time school thing, and will be doing that for 2 more years. It’s not easy but we make it work.

One of my favorite spots.

One of my favorite spots.

The house has been amazing and terrible and fun and awful and expensive and expensive and expensive. We knew it had been neglected for some time, but had no idea that it would take us so long to wrap our head around everything that needed to be done. Nate’s sisters came down to help us one weekend shortly after we moved in, and one asked how long I thought it would take to get settled in. “Five to seven years,” I semi-joked. No. Really. Five to seven years. In our first year we felt like we were working on the house non-stop, except we actually really weren’t and we got so little done. But that’s OK! We go back and forth between hating and loving it, but I spend more time on the “loving it” side – loving the backyard and the patio and the clothesline across the ramada. Loving the gardens that we’ve put in all over and the compost (that refuses to compost, due to the dry, dry heat) and the front porch swing and the neighborhood. We do love the neighborhood. And the cove ceilings and the fireplace (that we use very infrequently) and the nook in the hallway and the daylight in the bedrooms and the family room and the kitchen. Except for the middle of the summer when I also dislike the daylight in the bedrooms and the family room and the kitchen.

Sun tea brewing in the back yard.

Sun tea brewing in the back yard.

I ride my bicycle to work almost every day. It’s a short ride straight through the university and, so far, I have ridden in 30º weather and 100º weather, in gorgeous blue skies and driving rain, in the still cool and the dusty wind. I love being able to get around by bicycle, and being a one-car family has not been nearly as challenging as we thought it might. Besides, I get built-in exercise twice a day. More if I have a meeting or a doctor’s appointment or something.

We have made friends. No one tells you that making grown-up friends is about 1000 times more difficult that making kid friends, even in college. Well, maybe they tell you but no one believes them. But we’ve done alright for ourselves and I am often surprised to find that I have more options of things to do in a weekend than I have time for. There are, of course, many times when we long for the tight knit group that we had in Cincinnati, and that we don’t yet have people we can call and say, “hey I’m coming to sit on your couch for 7 hours,” but we’re getting there.

At a Tucson friend's wedding this spring.

At a Tucson friend’s wedding this spring.

As crazy years go, I think this was a calmer one in relation to our recent history. But don’t ask me if that is the case on a day-to-day basis!

Cycling Home in the Desert Summer

bicycle commuterI wrote the most beautiful poem yesterday on my bicycle ride home from work. Something about cauldrons of bubbling tar and heat scorching your ankles in the shade. But, as typically happens when you physically exert yourself in 108* heat, my brain turned to mush somewhere prior to half-way home, and I can’t remember much besides the fact that I was still composing this epic when I arrived home.

summer sunTucson summers are oppressive.

mesquite in the sunlightToday I peddled home in the first monsoon of the season, tepid desert raindrops dripping down my elbows instead of sweat. My sunglasses were to keep the rain out of my eyes instead of the sun. I wove through puddles, spitting water and dirt and grit behind me, grinning from ear to ear after having turned down no fewer than 8 offers to drive me home. Are you kidding me? Pass up the first monsoon of the season? No way.

It was just the beginnings of the storm. The rain wasn’t very thick and it didn’t start thundering until I was almost home. I arrived home not-very-drenched and much cooler than yesterday.

The desert does some strange things in the summer. The clouds will appear out of nowhere, billowing across the mountains and spreading over the city, black and rolling. The thunder will rumble and the rain will start, rarely with warning drops. The temperature will drop 30 degrees in 15 minutes.

You can see the very tips of the mountains from our backyard.

You can see the very tips of the mountains from our backyard.

“High humidity” here is approximately what I used to get in the “dry” winter, and the moisture doesn’t hang around long, sizzling and evaporating off pavement that has been baked in the sun all day. Unsurprisingly, a little bit of water doesn’t dissipate all that stored heat very quickly. But the air does cool down, and I had the odd experience of being in two worlds at once, my head in the cooled air above and my feet in the steam rising off the road.

I expect the grass (weeds) will start growing in my yard again and the cactus will puff up and the flowers will pop out for another round. The ground is still so hard I don’t know how anything grows in it, but grow it does – through the cracks in the sidewalk and around the river rock lining the pathway and across the hard-packed dirt of my backyard.

sad cactusI have my window open, something I haven’t been able to do for a month or so. I tend to push it to the very last moment before I close the windows, pull the shades and the curtains, and wait for the sun to go down. Lately it doesn’t cool down until 3 or 4 am, so they stay shut and the a/c stays on. But tonight I have the windows open, breeze blowing through, birds chirping in the trees, thunder rumbling in the distance, and the smell of the desert after the rain drifting through the whole house.

Tucson summers are beautiful.

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Musings on Mid-November

Sunset

A gorgeous Tucson sunset

To read my blog you would think I’ve spent the whole month cooking and drinking coffee! Which is partially true. Cooking takes a ridiculous amount of time, and just when I’ve finished cleaning up from lunch, it’s time to start on dinner. Now I remember why we went out all the time in Cincinnati, and why I like leftovers so much.

But there have been other things. We’re still unpacking. We did such a terrible and quick job of it when we moved into our house, we decided that we’d do it right this time. Which is kind of funny, considering we are most likely moving again in a few months. I’ve been going through boxes that we’ve carried around for years, Nate since leaving for college, me since, well, forever. It’s taking a long time.

Blooming

Flowers blooming on the bush in front of our apartment.

For a while we were going on weekly adventures. Sunday afternoons were dedicated to exploring our new city. Then we tried to go to the zoo for about three weeks in a row. When it never happened, I think we gave up on our Sunday adventures. Now we lounge around the house. I often think that’s more fun than adventuring.

Daisy

We had a nice thanksgiving, despite being so far from our families. I’ve always thought of Thanksgiving as my families “best” holiday. We have a strict schedule that we adhere to, starting with the Turkey Trot in the morning (I do not partake in that part) to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to the dog show, to the movie, to the evening spent in front of the fire place. The food is always the same, and if ONE THING is forgotten, someone will notice. I don’t think I have ever missed Thanksgiving with my family. I think it’s the only holiday that was left that I hadn’t missed. And then we couldn’t get the parade on the TV (we don’t get NBC at our apartment, WHAT?) and then I had a meltdown, and then I was fine. We went to Cracker Barrel with some friends for dinner, then back to their house for pie and board games. I professed my hatred of board games, and then played them happily. It was fun.

Turning Leaves

I found some turning leaves while walking to church. Unfortunately I haven’t found any more.

I’m still unemployed. It’s a weird space, being unemployed on purpose. I’m not a housewife, this is not what I want to be doing, but I did choose to leave my job knowing that there wasn’t one waiting for me here. So I stick with “not working.” I send out the occasional resume, have the occasional interview, don’t get the occasional job. I’m glad for the people who have said “Contact So-and-So, you can use my name.” It makes it so much easier. But what I hear most often is how firms are closing or struggling or still laying people off.

Pears

I’m excited for the holidays. I love this time of year – there’s something magic that happens from Thanksgiving until New Year’s. We’ve been listening to Christmas music in the car, even though it still hits 80. There are no spruce trees here, no bare branches, no dark skies. It certainly doesn’t feel like the holidays. We’re not getting a Christmas tree this year, we didn’t get one last year, and I asked Nate the other day if he thought we would get one while we lived here. He said no, and I’m inclined to believe him. Somehow it feels like a lie, to truck in a tree from somewhere else, decorate it with “snow” and pretend nothing ever changes. We’ll come up with our own new traditions, it will just take some time.

Fire Truck

Found a car show with a fire truck while on our run

We sold our house. Which is wonderful and kind of amazing, but I was sad to see it go. I’m glad we won’t be taking care of it over the winter. We owned it for almost exactly 11 months. Now we start the process all over again. This time will be much different; no super-easy only-went-to-see-one-house hunt for us this time! We’ve already been to 10 or so (I’ve lost count) and by the time we start looking again, it will probably be a whole new crop of houses. We have a pretty good idea of what we want, but I’m not so sure that house exists.

Flowers

Pretty flowers – the purple leaves are dying the water purple

Well this has turned into approximately a novel. See, there are things going on! Just not super-exciting photo-worthy things. But I have some stored up – maybe next week.

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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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Back in the Swing of Things

After two whirlwind weeks and one week of recovery, I’m back to feeling like I have a little control again!

On Tuesday the movers came. Unfortunately there was no directing from the couch for me. I wasn’t incredibly surprised, especially since I figured the furniture would be last. I had to check off each box that came in, so I couldn’t get anything unpacked while they were moving stuff in. On Wednesday, I spent the majority of the day cleaning our last apartment. On Thursday I unpacked like a crazy, but made a surprisingly small dent in the disaster. On Friday, bright and early, we hopped on a plane for Ohio! We spent the weekend there for a friends wedding, and returned late Monday night. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I unpacked, cleaned, worked on finding a job, etc. Friday Nate had off from work, so I was super excited about getting a large chunk of unpacking done over our three day weekend! Until I got sick. Boo hiss. So I was knocked out until about Tuesday. My two whirlwind weeks. The next few days I took off. It was nice.

Popcorn

When we moved into our (first) temporary apartment, they left us a little goody basket, complete with a welcome package of microwave popcorn. Unfortunately they didn’t also provide a microwave, so this popcorn has been waiting patiently for us to get one. Thankfully, this apartment has a microwave, so I popped it just a soon as I could and enjoyed the popcorn AND the convenience of a microwave.

Lizard

This little guy was hiding behind the hamper in our bedroom. I about fell over when he started moving, but I caught him and placed him outside where he belongs. Our apartment was completely open almost all of moving day, so I’m surprised I’ve only found one intruder! (Umm, so far, I guess.)

Toe Nails Polished

Painted like Easter eggs in the fall. I was just excited to get my nail polishes back.

Hub Lamps

We took our first Ohio visitor (a friend who was in Tucson for work) to Hub, a trendy restaurant downtown. They have these awesome upside-down lamps as part of their decor.

Danger

Danger! I do stuff like this all the time (liquids on electronics – what can go wrong?) and it drives Nate NUTS! Understandably, of course. But I’ve fried exactly 0 electronics this way. I looked up while unpacking, saw what I had done, chuckled, took a picture, and then moved my mug. (Right? Right. We’ll go with that.)

Type

I love when books take the time to describe the font used. It’s the design nerd in me. This one is from The Cloud Atlas, which I just finished reading.

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Oh, September, Why So Soon?

The summer has positively flown by – and I’ve done surprisingly little for all the time that has passed.  I have several posts that I started but never finished and I’d like to post them even thought the events have long passed, and several posts that I’d like to write reflecting on the past few months before we enter yet another stage of our crazy lives.

We rented a bigger apartment closer to the center of Tucson and we scheduled to get our stuff back.  It’s been a truly eye-opening experience, and I foresee a significant amount of purging once our boxes arrive.  We don’t need all the stuff that we have, plus we will have to move it again soon – we only signed a 6 month lease and we haven’t fired our realtors.  We’ll hope our house sell before the holidays, try to manage said holidays without too much stress, and start again in the new year.

Until then, the to-do list grows.  Nate wonders what I do all day, and I can never really put it into words.  This weekend we made a list and it was even longer than I expected.  I think it’s about time to end my summer vacation, though, and get back to work.  That will take some time and energy on its own, but it’s time.  And then I’ll have to balance a whole new set of challenges.  Or old challenges that I’ve not missed.

But!  Enough of my grumbling.  My tall decaf iced Americano is gone (because Starbucks doesn’t have iced decaf coffee – really, Starbucks, really?) and I have a trillion things to do.  Onward to tomorrow!

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My misplaced identity

We’ve been here over a month now.  I’m finally getting used to Tucson.  It still looks like a wasteland when you drive around – huge wide streets, gravel, dead grass that grew last monsoon season and was never removed when it returned to desert condition.  The mountains are beautiful, but they’re often foggy and distant.

I’m getting used to doing nothing.  Nate actually asked me what I did all day today.  It’s not that hard, you guys.  I live in a one bedroom apartment with very little actual furniture.  We have so little “stuff” that cleaning is a joke.  The only thing that actually takes any time is doing dishes.  We have a dishwasher, but too few dishes to make use of it efficiently.  I basically do nothing all day.

It’s been difficult to admit that I do nothing.  The last time I had this little to do I was probably 12 years old.  Even then, my Mom kept us pretty busy during the summer, and imagination and free play is way more acceptable when you’re 12 than when you’re 26.  I went from being employed full time straight out of college to being unemployed.  I spend my days inside my dark, empty, tiny, one bedroom apartment.  I have a list of really tedious things that need to be done, lots of making phone calls that never get returned.

For the first few days we were here, I would get up, shower, put on my brand new shorts (I never needed shorts before!  I was always working in the air conditioning and I had a few sun dresses for the weekends, or gym shorts, or I’d just wear my jeans), do my hair and my makeup.

Now I  try to wake up at a reasonable time (the sun comes up REALLY early here, its usually pretty light out when Nate gets up at 5:30) putter around for a while.  I’ve started going to the gym.  It’s kind of far away, so by the time I get there, work out, and drive back, its usually been at least 2 and a half hours.  Sometimes I dry off for a while, slather on my sunscreen, and go lay by the pool.  For one hour.  Mandatory.  30 minutes on my belly, thirty minutes on my back.  Try not to get the library book soaked.  Sometimes I just hang out inside.

I read a lot.  The library is my new best friend.  I got twelve books out of the library and I’ve finished six.  Only one book was from my reading list of classics.  I try to have dinner ready every night when Nate gets home from work.

Writing about all this, I hardly feel sorry for myself.  It all sounds like a grand vacation.  But a vacation with no end in sight.  And I’m not a sit-still person.

By the time Nate gets home from work, I’m crabby.  I’m crabby and he’s jealous that I’ve been sitting around all day, and we have nothing to do but sit and crab at each other.  At first, we would go out and buy something just to get out of the house.  It was awful.

That lasted for about a week.  Then we gave in and bought an X-Box and a little TV.  As much as I complained about video games before, I never would have guessed that they probably saved our marriage.  We got one with a Kinect, so sometimes we play funny little games together.  But usually Nate plays with his friends online while I continue puttering – reading or writing or finding one of the many other ways I have to entertain myself.  I have to say, there was no such thing as “bored” in my parents’ house.  “Bored” was not allowed then, so it makes it very difficult for me to be bored now.  And that has really come in handy.

We’re going back to Ohio for a wedding this weekend.  I really can’t believe it’s been so long since we moved!  I’m super excited to sleep in my own bed, with my own pillows that fit the shape of my head perfectly.  And then all of our stuff will be packed up and stored in an undisclosed location (seriously, they won’t store it in Tucson because it’s too hot) until we figure out what we’re doing with our living situation.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll give a tour of our apartment.  Ha!  It probably won’t be very exciting, but at least it will give me something to do!

It’s kind of funny, after some of my previous posts about being overwhelmed and over extended that I am now with almost nothing to do.  It has been nice to regroup and take some time to reevaluate what I really want to be doing and what is important to me.  But I think I will have to get a job soon or I might go crazy.

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Snapshots

One of the conditions of moving here (probably the only one, provided the job paid well enough for us to live on) was that we could get smart phones when we got here and that I could get an iPhone.  Nate got out of getting an iPhone through the myriad of rules from the cell phone carrier.  He didn’t think he wanted one anyway, but conceded that it would be easier to coordinate our lives on compatible devices.  He wasn’t too upset when it didn’t work out, and “settled” for a Droid.  Every time he gets a text, it says “Droid” very menacingly, which he says is to remind me that his phone is better than mine.  It’s amusing.

One of the (many) benefits of having an iPhone is that the camera on this phone is great!  It is probably better than the point-and-shoot that I have, but I love my camera, so I won’t go that far.  It’s nice to have a convenient camera that takes good photos when you’re exploring a new area!

Not that I’ve been doing much exploring.  We got here last Sunday but didn’t get our cars until Friday.  I’ve spent most of my time in our sparsely-furnished one-bedroom apartment.  Here are some of the things that have kept me sane – or so.

Mountains are visible from almost everywhere in Tucson

The one indulgence I snuck into my suitcase without Nate knowing. And, oh, they have made me happy 🙂

I, the proud owner of about 87,923,432 water bottles, did not bring a single water bottle with me to the desert. Nate insisted we purchase some. I am almost never separated from mine.

Bota Box and fresh fruit – Yum! Maybe I’ll attempt sangria one of these hot and lazy afternoons!

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Walking

Our house from the street, when the tree is blooming

Today I walked to the library and the hardware store.  It was chilly, but it wasn’t windy and there are no hills if you wind through the neighborhoods.  On Friday Nate and I walked to the Italian restaurant down the street.  Which was good, considering it was a really nice place, and we drank a whole bottle of wine.  Something that’s much more difficult if you have to drive home.   We probably won’t be walking there too much, as it’s quite expensive, although absolutely delicious.  There’s an Italian restaurant up the street too, that we might frequent more often, despite its much more college-student friendly prices.

There’s a park across the street, a deli, a drive-thru, and a bowling alley within a block or two, and, if I’m really ambitious, I could probably walk to the mall.

I love living in a community that’s walkable.  We’ve only lived here a few months, but even in the short time that we were looking at buying this house, I noticed how much was within walking distance, and I started plotting.  Between walking and riding my bike, I can easily get to almost everything I need.  Not want, but need.  Except, of course, my job.  Which is the only thing from keeping me from getting rid of my car entirely.

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Back for now

We’ll see how it goes.  My computer is fixed (yay!) and I got new batteries for my camera, so I’m back in business.  Now to find the time to write…

Turned out my computer wasn’t really broken at all.  My battery was expanding, which was pressing on the trackpad causing it to not work.  This happened before, and they gave me a new battery, but I had to pay this time.  I wasn’t in the mood to throw a fit and point out that last time this happened, you told me it was a flaw in the battery, and this time it’s somehow my fault?  I was just glad it was an easy fix and I could take my computer home with me, in full working order.

Why my computer wasn't working

The past month probably hasn’t really been that busy, I’ve just been running around like a crazy person trying to get a handle on it.  I’m sincerely hoping that now that Nate is really, actually finished with school, we will get this “being grown-ups” thing figured out and start to have some calm and perhaps a logical pattern to our life.  We went grocery shopping for the first time in about 2 months this past weekend, and have been eating actual meals. It’s amazing.

I’ve taken another test – one I think I might actually have passed! – run a few miles, read some books, failed miserably at flossing, spent time with our families, done some home projects.  So many things.  We’ll see where the next few months take us!