Tonight for dinner we had

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 13, 2016 9:41 PM

Justin spoke those words – "tonight for dinner we had" – this morning when we talked with him. It was the first time we’ve heard his voice since he left so early on the morning of July 1. He’s been in Japan and still is, at least for the next two weeks. It’s a 16-hour time difference so it’s hard. We text, we email; we Facebook. He has dinner when we’ve yet to rise. 

Yesterday he sent a text and asked what we thought about joining him in London for Christmas. The tour will be there from December 21 through the 30 and he thought it might be a nice place for a family reunion. Christmas in London. How Dickensian. Figgie Pudding and all that Scrooge. We looked at flights, not for before Christmas but perhaps just after. We sent a text saying that we should connect today. Just before 7 this morning, we got a text. 

“Hey guys. You up?”

We were awake if not yet up but we got up quickly, took the dog out, started some coffee and settled down for a chat. He told us all about Japan and what they’ve seen, how they’ve settled into the culture. When Justin was little he discovered Pokemon and quickly became enamored with the game, the characters and especially with anime as well as the Japanese culture. As he grew up, his fascination only deepened. He learned to like the food, and studied the ancient Japanese Samurai. He knew he would love it and we just hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed. He wasn’t. He has learned some of the language, loves the people, and is forever amazed at how helpful the Japanese are. 

They’ve been to nine cities thus far with the last one coming up in a few days. They’ve traveled the country by bus and by bullet train. Eventually they’ll make their way back to Narita and fly out of Japan and toward England. 

He told us about each city, about the castles, about the ramen which he was infatuated with before he left and has now fallen into full-blown love with. Evidently ramen is very big there and it’s especially easy to find ramen restaurants that are open after the last shows. The crew goes often.

He told us about the weather, about the pedestrian traffic which is evidently out of control. He said that he would live there in a heartbeat, that if he could get a job, he would move there. Kelsey, his girlfriend, isn’t so convinced. And so they’ve discussed taking two months or so for an extended trip to truly engage. 

He sounded great. He was happy and funny and easy, his usual self. He’s loving his life, even though he’s been working quite a bit and doesn’t necessarily plan to continue with the tour after they eventually end in Australia and New Zealand. The experience is amazing, by his own account. 

We talked about New Year’s instead of Christmas, which we think we’ll do. We talked about how much time he’ll have off between London and Stockholm, the stop after the UK. We’ll rent a flat; perhaps he and Kelsey can stay with us. He loved that. 

Then he yawned. And said “tonight for dinner…” and we smiled because it was still just after 8 our time. His life is so different than ours on so many levels. It’s as it should be. I couldn’t help but find meaning in the idea that he had already lived his day, this day, while ours was just beginning. On one hand, it seemed to symbolize us being left behind. On the other, perhaps the fact that we will now forever be trying to catch up to him. Soon he would be going to bed and rising to start the day again, chasing his life, chasing his dream, chasing the sun in the land known for rising. I – we – couldn’t be more proud.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

Taking inventory

by Lorin Michel Friday, September 9, 2016 11:02 PM

A hummingbird hit the dining room window today. It was a small thud, barely a noise. We looked out and saw it lying still, upside down. Both of us shook our heads sure we’d lost another one. It’s not uncommon for a bird to think it’s going to go through the house, not realizing that there is double paned glass in the way. We started making plans to dispose of the body, but as we watched, the tiny bird began to flutter its wings. It righted itself and soon it had buzzed away. It was as if it had taken just a few minutes to take inventory and clear its tiny bird head. 

Our first bird strike, not long after we’d moved in, resulted in death. It hit the windows that wrap the bathroom, behind the bathtub. We heard a thud but didn’t know where it had happened. It was early. We left the house with dog in tow, on our way for a walk. The bird was lying on the dirt, just below the glass. It was obvious that it was dead. 

We had another strike near the front door, and that one, too, died. It bothers us. When we built the house we wanted it to look – to be – as if it came up from the desert. I suppose we did that a little too well. We also don’t like to displace or kill anything. We painstakingly transplanted cactus plants. We relocated toads and other critters. Even when we had a snake in the house, we managed to push it out onto the deck and off the deck rather than kill it. The exception is spiders. I’m sorry but I just can’t find it in my heart to spare spiders that are in the house. We’d relocate a tarantula, and have. Luckily none have been inside. 

We’ve also helped Gila monsters to safety; ditto desert tortoises. We would help birds if we had the opportunity. 

We had another bird fly into the window in the bathroom and it hit with such force that I was sure it had to be dead. I looked out, wincing a bit as I expected to see it lying motionless. Surprisingly, it was sitting up on the dirt. It was stunned, I could tell. It sat there, still, glazed, for at least 15 minutes. It was as if it was taking inventory of its parts.

Ok. Let’s see. Two wings. Check. Two feet with claws still attached. Check. A beak. Check. Do my wings work? No. Wait. Yes! 

Soon enough, it shuddered a bit, flapped its wings and then lifted up and off in the opposite direction of the windows. Smart bird. 

When Kevin fell from the sky, as we affectionately refer to his in-house mishap, he too took inventory. He had been on his extension ladder, the feet of it on the marble tile of the entrance way, the other end resting against the beam on the ceiling of the second story. We had vaulted ceilings in the Oak Park house and he was doing some dry wall crack repair. The feet slipped on the tile and he had less than a second to realize he was going down and that there was nothing to grab onto, nothing to break his fall, nothing but the floor getting ever closer. He crashed down, but was wrong about nothing to break his fall. We had and still have a wall table that also holds several bottles of wine. He right foot and ankle crashed into that with enough force to flip him over. He landed on his back on top of the ladder. 

Immediately, he started his count: Head and back not broken; ditto neck. Two arms, two hands, 10 fingers. Two legs, two feet – wait. Maybe not. Honey? 

Taking inventory is what we do when we’re checking to make sure all is in order. It’s something we do with our live. We take inventory of where we are and where we’re going. We take inventory of what we’ve accomplished and what we haven’t. We take inventory of how we’ve measured up to our own ideals, and hopefully, we can report that we have.

We’re generally happy. We feel joy, and sorrow. We are healthy, we appreciate, we trust in the future by learning from the past. We love … family, friends, pets. We love more than we hate. We take inventory because it gives us opportunity to make changes. We take inventory to discover what’s important. And to unleash what we find to celebrate every day. 

We take inventory to live it out loud.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

It gives me hope

by Lorin Michel Friday, August 26, 2016 11:22 PM

Kevin's new truck broke down today. He was out running errands, Home Depot and weed killer kind of stops, and had pulled into a quick turn-around lane. As he started to make the turn, the radio surged, hiccupped and then the car died. Luckily he had enough momentum to propel the truck across the very busy four lanes of the east bound side of Broadway, and luckily there was an entrance to a parking lot for the Hilton. The truck coasted across then stopped. It had power but it wouldn't crank.

There I was in my office, minding my own business when my cell began to sing. The phone rarely rings on a Friday afternoon and while I have plenty of work to do, no one wants to talk about it. Caller ID identified the caller as "Kevin."

Uh oh.

"Kevy?"

"So my car died."

A quick detail of tools to bring followed and I jumped into the Sport. It took me about 15 minutes to get there. He waved sheepishly.

"You know I wanted to take the bike today and you said I'd be better off in the truck," he said as I climbed out.

My turn to be sheepish.

"You lied." He smiled.

He set about checking the battery, making sure everything that should be connected was.

In these situations, there is really nothing I can do other than stand around and look helpless. I was doing that very well when a couple in a pickup pulled in, asked what they could do to help. Maybe help push it? Worth a shot. The two guys tried while I was in the driver's seat to steer. The truck began to roll backwards rather than forward. Another guy stopped to help. Maybe with three of them they'd have better luck. They didn't. The truck is simply too heavy.

The second guy who stopped also helped Kevin nose around the engine.

"Need a crescent wrench?" he asked. "I got one in the car."

Kevin thanked him, told him he had one, too. They poked around a bit more.
The guy shrugged.

"Sure wish there was something I could to help you out, man," he said. "Good luck."

Soon another guy came by. An older gentleman in a Ford Edge.

"I got a tow rope,” he said as he leaned toward the passenger window to talk to us.  "I can at least get you into a safer spot."

He gave Kevin the rope to hook to the Classic and then to his tow hitch and just like that, the Classic was up the slight incline and onto flatter ground.

"Good luck," the man said as he drove off with a wave.

A woman stopped and said that while she couldn’t do much, she’d be happy to make a phone call. At least one other car stopped to see if there was anything they could do. In the end, we called for a tow truck. The guy showed up in about a half hour, loaded the Classic and with Kevin and I in the Sport, we all drove south to Falconwerks, the independent British repair shop here in Tucson.


The sun was setting, lighting the storm clouds to the west. The sky turned dusty blue, darkening. Kevin was quiet. I was thinking about people, and how just when I'm convinced that we've devolved into a race that can't even manage to be decent to one another the truck breaks down and a number of strangers stop to offer what help they could. My faith was restored at least for today and I said as much to Kevin. He nodded.

"What are you thinking about?" I asked.

"That I knew I should have taken the bike," he said with a grin.

Next time. Until then, I'm celebrating the goodness of people and not thinking about how much this is going to cost. Next week. Next week.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

Just like riding a bike

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, August 24, 2016 9:31 PM

Kevin took the motorcycle out today. First time since July 4. That’s an unusually long time between rides for him. He loves his motorcycle, this one more than any of the others. Ever since that fateful Sunday I came home from dropping movies at Blockbuster and sat next to a couple on a bike at a stoplight on Agoura Road, he’s been back into motorcycles. I say “back into” because he evidently had a bike when he got out of college. I think he got rid of it when he got married the first time; I know he hadn’t had one for a long time. I think we went to look at motorcycles that day. We had our first bike by the following Friday. A Suzuki Intruder 800. 

Within six months, we’d upgraded to a 1500. It was a beautiful bike but not very comfortable for the passenger also known as me. Within about a year and a half, we sold that and bought our big Kaw (pronounced “cow”). A Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500 chipped. So it was fast. It was also built for two. Whereas the big Suzook had a seat on the back, it always seemed like an afterthought. This new bike had floor boards from the driver and the passenger. Big saddlebags, a backrest for the passenger also known as me. We put white wall tires on it and it was gorgeous. Black metallic paint, lots of chrome. How we loved that bike. 

But once we moved, we knew we’d have to sell it. The roads here are atrocious and the ride was just too rough. It took all the fun out of cruising.

Enter the car on two-wheels. The love of Kevin’s motorcycle life. His favorite bike ever. The beloved Honda Goldwing 1800. This thing is amazing. It’s a touring bike versus a cruiser so it’s cushy, built for long rides. It has six cylinders, a tremendous amount of power. A six-CD changer, an AM/FM radio, an AUX hookup for an iPod. There are four speakers. It has a trunk to go with the two side pods. If we wanted, there is space for a trailer hitch and we could pull a small trailer. It has cruise control. The only thing it doesn’t have is air conditioning. 

We used to go out fairly regularly but since we moved, we don’t. Whereas our weekends used to consist of hopping on the bike to go to Ojai, usually for gas, our new weekend adventures consisted of driving to tile stores and hardware stores and paint stores. We needed a bigger trunk. Plus the no AC thing in the summer made it less enjoyable. 

Since we moved into our house, the weekends often consist of weekend things. Working outside, working inside. Socializing. And the bike sits in the garage, getting dusty, looking sad. I was looking at it the other day and I mentioned to Kevin that it had been a long time. I was feeling nostalgic. I was wanting a ride. 

We decided that over Labor Day weekend, we’d take a day, drive up to Apache Junction, have lunch, then wind our way back. 

Today, Kevin had to run some errands. 

“Which car are you taking?” I asked since we currently have three. 

“Not,” he said. “Taking the bike.” Then he grinned. “I just hope I can remember how to drive it.”

Whenever he goes out on the motorcycle without me, I’m adamant that he call or text me when he arrives at his destination, and again when he’s leaving to head home. Then I have an idea when to expect him. That way, if the time goes too long, I know to worry. 

He got to his destination. I got my text: “I remembered.”

“Just like riding a bike.” I texted back.

Anniversaries and stuff

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, August 23, 2016 9:07 PM

Three years ago today, we changed our lives. Again. We had of course, changed our lives previously when we met, and then again when we moved in together. We changed them when we got a dog and bought a house. We changed them when we got married. One of the ways we were able to remember the sequence of events was that we had Maguire, we grew out of the townhouse, we bought the Oak Park house, we got engaged, and a year and a month after moving into the house, we got married. Maguire, house, wedding.

We got Maguire in February 1997, the house was August – we moved in the night Princess Diana was killed in Paris. We got engaged on my birthday of that year, and married on September 26, 1998. Justin started high school in 2005, and graduated in 2009. We moved him to the University of Arizona on August 21, 2009 and he started classes on Monday the 24th. 

On Saturday, August 22, we fell in love with the town that would eventually lead to us changing our lives again. On May 10, 2010, we bought 3.8 acres of hillside property on the Northeast side of Tucson with the resolve to eventually build a house. It was our dream.

While Justin was in school, we lived our California lives. We lost our precious Maguire on March 6, 2012. We got Cooper on October 26, 2012. We visited family, we had friends over to the house often. We hired an architect who designed our dream house. Justin was supposed to graduate in May of 2013 but he transferred schools and had to take an extra semester. Still, 2013 was the year. 

For a long time, we convinced ourselves that we would never really be able to move; we weren’t even sure we wanted to. We were sure we had nearly 4 acres of beautiful property that we would never actually use. I asked Kevin once if he thought we’d ever build the house, ever move. His one word answer: No. 

I never asked again because I didn’t want it to be true. I also didn’t want to have spent the money on something we gave up on. 

Finally, we made the decision. We wouldn’t have any more tuition bills after August. It was time. We sold the house in Oak Park, we packed everything up and on Thursday, August 22, the movers came. We were up all night, literally, and at 6:45 the next morning, we left. Kevin was driving a U-Haul and towing the Porsche. I was driving the Range Rover, loaded to the roof. I couldn’t see out of the back window. Cooper was curled up on the front seat next to me. We had to beat the movers who were also driving on Friday in order to meet us at our rental house in Tucson. It was one of the worst experiences we have had as a couple. No sleep, a 10-hour drive across the desert. In August. 

August 23, 2013. Three years ago. 


The Michels, August 24, 2013. And our jam-packed U-Haul.

But it was the start of our greatest adventure, our new lives, and so along with our other anniversaries, we celebrate it. We celebrate this day. We remember with horror our lack of sleep and the drive. We remember arriving at the rental in 100º weather to find that the landlords had left us wine (red and white), crackers and cheese. We remember thinking maybe this might work out after all. I think it has.

Happy Anniversary to us. And stuff.

Tags: , , , , ,

live out loud

Riley on Ice and Fresh blue Wubba

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 20, 2016 8:47 PM

Riley’s favorite toy is Wubba. His love affair with the octopus-like creature started the night he came to live with us. We welcomed him at the front door. He was skittish at first but seemed to take to us quickly, especially Kevin who remains his favorite dad ever. We took him around the house, introducing him to his new home, showing him where his water and food bowls were, where his bed was. Then we turned him loose to let him explore on his own. He disappeared into our room. He was gone for a few minutes, and then he came running down the hall with a Wubba in his mouth. That Wubba had been Cooper’s, but that night, Riley made it his own. He has been through approximately five Wubba’s in the year and a half since. 

It is a remarkably resilient and tough toy. There is a large ball, topped with a smaller ball, and four long tentacles. The one Cooper had was covered with faux fur and had a little face on it. It was cute Wubba. But Cooper was older and more refined when it came to his toys. While they all eventually got destroyed, it took a while. Not so with Riley. 

Riley can destroy just about anything within a half hour. Except Wubba. Wubba tends to last a couple of months, perhaps because of the tough canvas-covered Wubba’s we now buy. During those months, there are still hints of impending death. The tentacles begins to fray, the fabric covering Wubba’s other body parts becomes thin. Threads appear. 

But Wubba soldiers on.

I always keep a spare Wubba in the pantry, for when the current Wubba dies valiantly. Such was the case over the past few days when blue Wubba was unleashed into the house. Blue Wubba is so-called for obvious reasons. For less obvious reasons, Kevin has taken to calling the toy Fresh-blue Wubba. I suspect this is because the water and food bowls we have are dark blue and when there’s water in the water bowl, it looks fresh and inviting. We’ve had these particular dog bowls since Maguire. And whenever we’d fill the water bowl with cool water, Kevin would always make a big deal of telling Maguire: “There’s fresh-blue water in your bowl, sweetie.” Maguire, for his part, would usually just stretch, roll over and go back to sleep.

Riley races around the house with Wubba. He grabs one or more of the tentacles and whips it around so that the rest of the toy bounces off of his back. We call this “opus dei puppy.” It’s a fun game, one that he plays by himself daily. 

Today, Fresh-blue Wubba was in the living room. Riley was racing around on the walkway that runs the entire length of the house, something we call the most expensive indoor dog run ever. He was spinning around, air snapping, wanting to play. This is usually cause for Kevin to say: “Get a guy!” 

Riley, like many young dogs and golden retrievers in particular, needs a job. He needs to be busy. Guys, which is what Kevin calls his toys, keep him busy. Here was the conversation:

Kevin: Get. A. Guy. 

Riley: (air snap) 

Kevin: Where’s Wubba? Get Fresh-blue Wubba.

Riley: (air snap; spin) 

Kevin: Get Wubba!!!! 

Riley: (air snap; spin; air snap) 

Then he bounded down the two steps, racing toward Fresh-blue Wubba, ready to pounce and grab and engage in some opus dei puppy. He hit the brakes as he grabbed his toy but lost his footing – feeting? – and wiped out, sliding across the tile like it was ice, Wubba nudged up and now flying through the air. The dog turned to look at us as Wubba crashed down on the couch table. 

Riley: (air snap) 

Kevin turned to me: And that is what we call Riley on ice.

Indeed.

Date night

by Lorin Michel Thursday, August 18, 2016 9:52 PM

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, we instituted date night. I think it happened over one particular summer when Justin was little and we spent much of our time shuttling him back and forth to camp and to friends and having his buddies over for sleepovers. We wanted to make sure that we had time for just the two of us, at least once a week. We started going out to dinner on Friday nights, and did so for years. It became a ritual, something to look forward to. And we did. 

When the economy crashed in 2008 we stopped going to dinner because it was too expensive, but we didn’t stop date night. Instead, we started going out on Thursday nights. We had discovered a wine tasting place in Thousand Oaks called The Wineyard. It was a renovated Taco Bell building right on Thousand Oaks boulevard. On Thursdays they invited winemakers from wineries all over the state to come and pour and share their stories. We were introduced to some phenomenal wines that way, and we loved it. There was a regular crowd there on Thursdays and we all got to know one another. It was like a big cocktail party every week that only served wine. 

Then we moved and it became a quest to find some place, any place where we could go on Thursday nights to taste wine. Tucson is not a big tasting town. They’re not as into wine here as other cities, perhaps because it’s not a big town period. We’ve gradually found a couple of places we like to go but none of them are tasting places. They’re usually restaurants that happen to have a nice bar and a good wine list. It works and besides, we pacify ourselves with the knowledge that even if we were still in Oak Park, we wouldn’t have the Wineyard anymore. They closed not too long after we left. We don’t think there was any connection. 

I am a big advocate of couples taking the time to just be together, to get away from the daily routine and grind of that thing we lovingly refer to as life. Kids take a lot of attention and time, rightly so. But if all of your time is devoted to them, I don’t think you’re showing them what a good relationship should look like. You’re showing them drudgery. If kids see that their parents take time for themselves, and do it regularly, then I believe you’re showing them that that is what real life should be. Everybody gets time because it’s important. 

I also believe that if you don’t take time together, once the kids grow and leave – and they will and should do both – then you’ll be left looking at each other blankly. Who are you? What did I ever see in you? Do we even have anything in common anymore? I think that’s a bit of what happened with my own parents. My mom devoted most of her time to raising me and my siblings, and she did so willingly, happily. I think she wanted to be the kind of mother that her own mother wasn’t. But all three of us did what kids do. We grew up. The daily purpose of her life moved out, and she and my dad realized that there wasn’t anything there anymore. They got divorced. 

Kevin and I have been very cognizant of having quality time together. We spend every day together, of course, but that’s different. I’m talking about putting on nicer clothes, and driving somewhere, sitting in a restaurant or bar or a restaurant’s bar, and having a glass of wine, maybe an appetizer. We talk. We laugh. We don’t check mail every two minutes; we don’t look at breaking news. We just be together. And it’s lovely.

Tonight is date night. We’re going to a place called Caffe Torino to have a glass of wine and an appetizer. We’ll wear nicer clothes, I’ll even put on some makeup. We’ll only be gone an hour and a half or so, but it will be enough. And it’s always worth celebrating.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

The trimmer

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, August 16, 2016 9:46 PM

My husband is such a girl. I say that with a great deal of love. Also completely tongue-in-cheek. He bought a sewing machine today and he’s very excited. It’s an old Singer, made back in 1947. It was on Craig’s List for $75. Yesterday, he contacted the woman who listed it, an older woman named Mercy who has owned the machine since she was 11. She doesn’t sew anymore so rather than have it end up in landfill, she decided to sell it. She listed it two months ago. Today, she sold it.

About three weeks or so ago, as regular readers may remember, the husband unit flew to California to buy a 1992 Range Rover Classic. He loved the truck, even though it needed a bit of work. Cosmetically it looks pretty good. It was recently painted. There are a few dents but for a truck that age, and for the cost, the issues are negligent. The motor is strong. It drives very well. It has all of its parts. (You’d be amazed at how many Classics, as well as other types of cars and trucks, are for sale out there that don’t have everything they came with, even if those ‘everythings’ are cracked or broken, or not working.) 

But the seats are pretty rough. The original leather was called Sorell and it was quite beautiful. But too many years of use and probably neglect have left it ripped and worn. We put seat covers on both front seats as well as the bench in the back and that helps make everything neater, less old. But they’re cheap covers, not made specifically for the seat but rather for “most SUVs.” They work. But they are a band-aid. 

About a week and a half ago, Kevin decided that maybe redoing the seats was something he’d do sooner rather than later. He called an auto upholstery place down on Speedway, and they gave him a rough estimate over the phone. Probably several hundred dollars for each. I thought that sounded reasonable, considering the shape the seats are in. 

Kevin is frugal. Some might say cheap, but not me. He doesn’t like to spend unnecessary money, which I completely understand. But this, to me, didn’t fall under the unnecessary category. The other issue, to his credit, is that he’s very handy. Not only that, he’s very good at being handy. In many cases, he can make things as well if not better than what he could buy. It’s a bit like I am when it comes to cooking. I can see something in a magazine or online, taste something in a restaurant, and figure out how to make it. 

So he decided to redo his seats himself. He started doing research, started reading, taking notes, deciding what he needed to do, what he needed to buy in terms of a machine. He ordered samples of faux leather from a place in Minnesota. They came yesterday. He started looking at Craig’s List. Today, he found his Singer.

“So you’re going to be a seamstress?” I asked, teasing. 

“It’s called a trimmer,” he replied with a smile. His research has already taught him that. 

So my husband, the handy man, is going to take up sewing in order to make his new old truck some new seat covers. He’ll measure and cut, and then he’ll sew. And I have absolutely no doubt that whatever he makes will be phenomenal. It’s what trimmers do.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

A theory on being social

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 13, 2016 7:37 PM

“Look at you being social!” That was the text I got from my sister a couple of weeks ago. She had asked me what we were doing for the weekend and we had plans to meet another couple for dinner on that Saturday night. A week later, we did it again, meeting some other friends. Then last weekend. And now this weekend. To which my sister can only text: “Again? Wow!” 

I am not a social creature by nature. I like my people-time limited, or at least I used to. I was perfectly content in California to have Roy and Bobbi come on Friday nights for Fritini. Sometimes Diane would join us; occasionally, when he was in town, Gene would, too. On rare occasions, we had another join us as well. We would sit on the patio, drink martinis and eventually uncork a bottle of wine and then another as we had dinner. Knowing that we had Fritini and knowing that Roy and Bobbi would be there nearly every Friday was all the social I needed. It became the punctuation at the end of the week. No matter what had transpired, good, bad or otherwise, Friday we could relax and talk and share and bitch and moan. We could all be together. 

Then we moved. And my people-time became nearly non-existent. I didn’t realize how much those Fridays truly meant until we didn’t have them anymore. I knew I would miss them; I just didn’t know how much. Suddenly, here we were, in a town that we love but where we didn’t know anyone. It became very important for me to find a way to meet people; to make friends. 

Diane always says you can’t make old friends and she’s absolutely right. It’s impossible to have new people in your life who know all of the history that the ones who have been around longest know. And still want to be in your life.

I do believe, though, that you can make new friends and begin a new journey. You still have the friends you’ve had forever; you still talk to them; still consider them family; the best friends. New friends are the new friends that might someday also become old friends.  

I realized after we’d been here a year or so that much like dating, making new friends has to be an organic experience. It just has to happen. It can’t be planned. It can only be a lovely surprise. Once I came to that realization, we started making more friends. We have new friends who are moving here from Chicago. I have several girlfriends that I meet for lunch or a glass of wine every once in a while, one I knew back in high school, another that I met when I took a pottery class, another who is in the dog rescue group that brought us Riley. We have become friends with the woman who was our real estate agent a long time ago. She and her husband are wonderful and we have so much fun with them. And we’ve become social with several of the couples who live here in our neighborhood. One of them is coming for dinner tonight.

So here’s my theory. When you have friends that you see regularly, you take that for granted. Because it’s easy and always fun. Because they’re there. And when they’re not, you realize how much having people to share an evening with, to share a meal with, a bottle or two of wine with, means. I think that’s why we’ve suddenly become social. Because people are better than no people. 

I’m enjoying our newfound social status, tremendously. I’m enjoying our new friends, and look forward to them becoming old friends. Roy and Bobbi and Diane and Gene remain our dearest friends, always, but I now know that, like jello, there is always room for more.

“Look at you being social again!” my sister tested yesterday. I am and we are. And we’re loving every minute of it.

We have a cactus down

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 13, 2016 12:00 AM

One of the things Kevin likes to do most is work in his yard. Of course, living in the middle of the Sonoran desert, the word “yard” is relative. We have no grass save for the hideous weed buffelgrass which can take over the world. It’s tall and green, especially after all of the rain we’ve received in the last two weeks, but it’s weak and we are in the process of destroying it, both on our property and in the entire development. Kevin has been working diligently the last few Saturday mornings, digging out clumps of buffel in order to clear it away from the rip rap below the house. There is much more to do and eventually we’ll have to hire someone. He’s just not up to removing buffelgrass from nearly four acres. 

He loves to work with all of the natural rock we have here. Called Catalina Gneiss, it’s a form of southwestern granite. The house is built on it. It surrounds us, to one extent or another, and we love it. It was one of the things we loved most about the property when we first bought it. Yes, it can be difficult because building on a mountain can require a lot of hammering, something our soon-to-be neighbors below found out when they spent nearly four months and double their initial hammering budget hammering out a buildable pad. 

Kevin uses the plentiful rock to create swales, rock ditches to help manage the flow of water. When it rains here, it is rarely nice. It’s often a violent, angry rain that dumps enormous amounts of water on us in a very short period of time. It pounds us from the sky and rushes down on us from the hillside above. We had some drainage when we moved in; it wasn’t enough. So he has been building up our rock-swales to divert the water away from and around the house. He’s done a remarkable job. 

On Saturday mornings, he gets up and puts on his work pants, heavy canvas to make the possibility of getting “bit” by all the many creatures and plants here less possible. He puts on a long-sleeve white t-shirt that long ago ceased being white. Steel-toed work boots. A hat. Heavy-duty gloves. And outside he goes for several hours. He sweats. He consumes large amounts of water. He strains his muscles. He loves every single minute of it. 

It’s his yard. He loves every aspect of it, too. 

Whether he’s rocking or buffeling, he is always mindful of the creatures, not seeking to disturb or harm any (except for maybe wasps, which let’s face it, must be destroyed). He is equally mindful of the various species of cactus that populate Southern Arizona’s Sonoran desert and thus our property. When someone who was attempting to put in the beginnings of a road above us, a project that has since been abandoned for its obvious folly, the guy flattened several ocotillos and prickly pears. Kevin grabbed them and replanted them on our property. Most if not all took and are now thriving. He had to move a tree once. He built a rock planter for it, and replanted that, too. And it is growing once again, lush and thick. He loves these plants, perhaps none more than the towering saguaros, the cactus synonymous with this area. The house being built below us had to remove several saguaros, and they hired professional saguaro removal teams. It’s a thing here. They’re protected. They can’t just be pushed aside. They have to either be moved or replanted, which is easier when they’re smaller. The 20, 30, 40 or 50 foot saguaros are almost impossible to move. 

When we built, we purposely built around several saguaros, taking them into account with the design of the house. We have three in the center of the driveway, one of which is at least 20 feet high if not taller. We also have a number that we built the lower rip rap around. They rise up so close to the house, right off the deck, that you can touch them. 

And yesterday, we lost one. I had gone into Kevin’s office in the afternoon for a reason that currently escapes me. I was looking out the French door that leads to his portion of the deck and something caught my eye. At first I wasn’t even sure what I was seeing. My brain couldn’t comprehend. I just knew that what I was seeing wasn’t right. In fact, it was very wrong. Oh. My. God. I said as I opened the door and stepped outside. 

One of our precious saguaros, the one that has been right outside the guest room, had fallen down into the desert, snapping at its base, taking its massive height and several spires (arms) down with it. We have no idea what happened and Kevin is beside himself. He loves these majestic plants.

So we have a cactus down. Our first one since we started building in December of 2013. We have pacified ourselves with the fact that even in the cactus world, there is a circle of life. This one has come to an end, but we will plant something in its place, and hopefully it too will grow and thrive. And reach for the sky.

Tags: , , , ,

live out loud

christian louboutin online discount christian louboutin wholesale jerseys from china replica oakleys wholesale jerseys cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys oakley sunglasses sales cheap jerseys free shopping michael kors handbags nike nhl jerseys cheap nhl jerseys cheap replica oakleys oakleys sale cheap jerseys from china christian louboutin outlet 2016 cheap fake oakleys WHOLESALE AUTHENTIC JERSEYS fake ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin cheap christian louboutin online cheap jerseys cheap oakleys cheap jerseys from china cheap michael kors wholesale mlb jerseys replica oakleys store cheap jerseys china fake oakleys authentic nhl jerseys cheap wholesale nfl jerseys discount oakleys cheap oakleys fake oakley sunglasses replica christian louboutin cheap oakley sunglasses authentic jerseys cheap cheap oakleys outlet wholesale oakleys christian louboutin online wholesale cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys fake cheap oakleys discount jerseys sale cheap ray bans fake cheap oakleys michael kors outlet cheap wholesale jerseys replica ray bans wholesale jerseys outlet wholesale nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake cheap oakleys outlet ray bans sale christian louboutin outlet oakleys sunglasses wholesale authentic jerseys discount ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin online nhl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys discount ray bans wholesale jerseys cheap ray bans michael kors handbags outlet replica michael kors wholesale oakley sunglasses ray bans outlet cheap jerseys china cheap nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys cheap oakleys cheap ray bans cheap christian louboutin discount oakleys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap michael kors handbags fake cheap oakleys discount christian louboutin wholesale nhl jerseys michael kors on sale discount ray bans cheap jerseys wholesale cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors bags replica ray bans cheap sunglasses ray bans authentic jerseys authentic jerseys from china cheap oakleys outlet replica oakley sale red bottoms shoes on sale wholesale oakleys cheap nfl jerseys cheap replica oakleys wholesale oakleys cheap christian louboutin outlet cheap oakleys store cheap michael kors cheap ray bans cheap authentic nfl jerseys paypal cheap fake oakleys cheap oakleys cheap michael kors outlet fake ray bans fake ray bans cheap authentic nike jerseys cheap authentic jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake oakleys store replica oakleys cheap christian louboutin fake oakley cheap cheap jerseys wholesale cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys china cheap oakleys online replica michael kors cheap ray bans jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys discount ray bans cheap michael kors store cheap ray bans ray bans sunglasses jerseys wholesale wholesale china jerseys cheap mlb jerseys oakley sunglasses wholesale nba jerseys christian louboutin outlet wholesale oakleys wholesale authentic jerseys wholesale mlb jerseys cheap michael kors outlet cheap jerseys online shopping cheap ncaa jerseys michael kors bags cheap fake oakleys cheap jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors cheap discount ray bans ray bans sunglasses cheap jerseys free shopping cheap nba wholesale jerseys fake oakleys replica oakleys cheap nhl jerseys cheap christian louboutin cheap oakleys official jerseys replica ray bans cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys cheap cheap authentic ncaa jerseys michael kors on sale cheap fake oakleys cheap elite jerseys discount oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors online wholesale and retail oakleys fake ray bans cheap wholesale jerseys
Filter by APML

RecentPosts