August 31, 2006

once upon a time...

Once upon time, there was a young woman named Barbara.

She met a very nice young man named John.

They fell in love, and got married on August 31, 1957.

Over the next few years, they had three children- Jeff, Jackie, and Judy.

A few years later, they had another daughter named Jennifer.

After that, the family did what all families do- they went to school and to work, following the seasons of the seed corn crops and the school bookkeeping calendar. They spent their summer vacations making wonderful memories in Minnesota on a beautiful lake where they listened to the loons, fished for bluegills, bullheads, and crappies, enjoyed campfires, and each others' company.

They had puppies and kittens for pets, and raised various gerbils, butterflies, goldfish, frogs and toads in jars on the dining room buffet. They read lots of stories to each other, made forts out of the living room davenport, and played in the backyard sandbox and playhouse.

They enjoyed many lunches and dinners in a crowded, cozy kitchen. They spent many enjoyable hours around the dining room table on holidays, eating the wonderful food, playing many rousing card games of Euchre, Hearts, and Uno, and talking about everything.

The four lucky children eventually grew up and moved away, to the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota, the dairy country of Wisconsin, the rolling hills of Missouri, and the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

Even though they can't always be together, they always know that the family is still there for them, just like the lake in Minnesota is still there.

Happy 49th Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I love you.

August 29, 2006

some craftiness

I've been surfing a lot on one particular scrapping and stamping website recently... two peas in a bucket is the name ( ). It's based in Madison; they have galleries for posting cards and layouts, product for sale, and message boardsfor "talking" to fellow crafters. I've been hanging out on the stamping board, where there are a lot of very talented people! I'm not sure if my cards are up to some of their work, but I'm trying some new techniques, and am getting a lot of good inspiration. They post some weekly challenges, relating to card-making, and I've actually made a couple cards based on the challenge ideas. I need to make a couple more, too... Here's what I've been doing so far:
This card is for a weekly sketch challenge- someone posts a template showing the basic placement of the elements, and you make your card using that template as inspiration. The basket with leaves is a stamp; the flowers were made using a tiny paper punch. I glued on the flowers and used 3D foam tape on some extra flowers and leaves for added dimension.

This card is based on "card recipe" #23 from a special magazine issue The Joy of Card Making, a Second Helping. Again, there are templates to inspire your card-making. The original template had three pockets on the card- I couldn't for the life of me think of anything to do using pockets, so I changed them to vases. The flowers were stamped and cut out; glitter glue was added for the centers. I drew the pattern for the vases and cut them out of patterned paper, then added freehand leaves and stems. I don't like the freehand part of it; I'm just not good at drawing anything- that's why I stamp, instead!

This card was for an earlier sketch. Much brighter colors than I usually use, but it turned out okay. I saw the knotted ribbon on another card somewhere; turns out it's much harder to do than I thought it would be! That's because I'm so picky, and wanted all the ribbons to lay at the same angle after tying the knots (doesn't work quite that easy!) This card was sent to a friend of ours who gave us a hummingbird votive candle holder as a housewarming gift.

This is actually 2 halves of one sheet of paper. I saw this on 2peas, too... there is a stamper from Belgium (her 2peas ID is stampingmathilda) who does the most marvelous things with watercolor inks, so I thought I'd try my hand at it. I wet the entire piece of paper, then brushed on a mixture of two blues, a green, and yellow watercolor paint. After coating the entire piece, I set it in the backyard to dry. It turned out pretty nice, but a little bright, so I cut it in half and brushed the right half with a thin coat of gesso to tone down the colors. This paper can be stamped on, or used as background paper. I think I'll try this again, for sure. And, if I do make a card out of it, I'll be sure to post it, too.

dust storm pictures from 8/21

Picture taken at 6:54 pm... you can see it coming in from the west.

Picture taken at 6:57 pm... it's getting bigger.

Picture taken at 7:08 pm... it was dark enough that the street lights turned on!
Luckily, we didn't get the rain that came along with this dust storm; it went to the north and south of us. There was a LOT of flooding in parts of Phoenix, Mesa, and Scottsdale as a result of the rain. These dust storms are pretty impressive to watch, until they get close enough that you can feel the grit from the dust. Then, you want to be inside the house!

August 16, 2006

those darn detours!

So, today my commute to work was almost 60 miles (it should be just over 30)!!! It rained a couple nights ago southeast of here, and the main highway (our typical detour) is flooded AGAIN. It was a pretty spectacular storm, from what we could see of it- luckily, the worst of the rain missed our house. Anyway, this is definitely getting to be a PAIN, not just an inconvenience- I filled my car up with gas over the weekend, and already had to fill it up again today! I am trying to find out if this sort of occurrence (roads flooding this often) is typical, or not- I'm hoping not!!!

The main road to and from our development is supposedly scheduled to open tomorrow... when I drove thru town, there was a sign up saying "No heavy equipment allowed between White & Parker Rd and Hartman Road" (this is where the road flooded out so bad major repairs had to be made), so I figured- "cool! it's open!" No such luck, though... I toured around the country around the cotton fields, around a barricade, then thru the water (illegal, technically) until I finally got home, then called the Department of Public Works- I actually got the guy on the phone! I suggested to him that if the road is NOT open, they might want to cover up the sign, so as not to confuse people. He apologized, gave me the "we're doing all we can" speech, etc. I do feel for them a little, because he said his whole department is only 3 people, but, only so much. He said he feels for us, too (probably feels he's lucky not to live out here!)... He did say that they're hiring 24-hour security to help direct traffic in the event of future flooding, installing floodlights along that stretch of road, etc. and that the road is SUPPOSED to be open tomorrow morning by 5 am. We'll see.

On the home front, we did a lot of running around on the weekend- stopped at the local recycle center (they don't take plastic or glass with the curbside recycling, due to the fact that it's such a small operation), ceiling fan store, pet store, Home Depot, WalMart... I think there were a couple other stops in there too, but I don't remember. We picked up a 3rd small ceiling fan for the craft/guest room, and ordered 2 larger ones for the family room and our bedroom- I had to pick them up on Monday, though, because they didn't have them in the store. Tom installed them Monday night- they definitely make a difference!

Tom stayed home from work yesterday due to the flooding (took a comp day), and got a lot of things taken care of around the house- things related to the builder that hadn't been fixed, yet. A plumber snaked out a slow bathtub drain, an AC guy was up in the attic for 2 hours working on something that stopped ANY air from coming into the office (couldn't find out what exactly was wrong, because he didn't speak much English, but he fixed it!), they installed the gate to the backyard, painted around the plaque where they installed the house #, that sort of thing. Those kinds of things are just ANNOYING, because we have to schedule time to be here, so it was great that he managed to "Move and Shake" to get so much of it done. He's also figuring he'll be heading out soon for work, which is another reason he wanted to have these things finished... he doesn't have travel plans yet, but there are things in the works.

The landscaping in the front yard is partly installed (no irrigation lines yet, though..??), and we have gravel being installed in the backyard. They started the backyard today, and hopefully will get it finished tomorrow. Hopefully the gravel will cut down on the dust, and cut down on Sedona's sneezing, which is pretty bad- we don't know if it's allergies or dust, but we're hopeful it's the dust... it's amazing, though- you just say the word "outside" to her, and walk towards the door, and she starts sneezing even before she steps outside. Part of that is drama, I think, but most of it is real... if it doesn't clear up soon, though, we'll take her to the vet, to make sure she's healthy- there is a fungal disease in AZ that animals and people can get... Valley Fever... the mold spores live in the soil, you breathe them in, and they re-constitute, so to speak, inside your lungs, and can cause flu-like symptoms with lethargy and loss of appetite, or worse.

Then again, she just might not like the "feed lot" smell- there's nothing like the smell of thousands of cows in a very tight-knit space drifting over the neighborhood from a couple miles away! I happen to like the smell of cows, actually, but this smell is more like pigs- stronger, sharper- can't describe it, but it's bad. When the wind is blowing right (or wrong, actually!), the odor drifts down into the house thru the range hood...

anyway, that's the update for now from the desert- I am almost done organizing my craft space, so I can finally start working on the "we've moved" cards soon. I can't wait to do some crafting again! Only problem is, Cleo has decided she likes hanging out on the corner of my desk- I can't decide if I want to kick her off, to find a new space, or if I'll make her a little bed there, and let her stay... depends on if I'm working with glitter, glue, or something else messy like that, I think. I certainly don't want her running thru my projects!

August 10, 2006

Moving update

After today, we will officially be moved out of our apartment in Gilbert- this afternoon, Tom is heading there to clean, take apart some shelves, and take down our two ceiling fans. I’ll meet him there after work to load the stuff in my car, then we can turn in our keys. It was a nice apartment, but I won’t be sorry to have it over with- the whole mood of the place changed after the condo conversion announcement was made; plus we always knew living there was temporary, so we couldn’t ever feel too “comfortable” there, if you know what I mean.

Our house is a bit of a shambles right now- the garage is full of boxes, garbage bags, and various pieces of furniture. It felt sort of like Christmas, emptying out the storage unit and seeing things again that we had packed away… the mirror that hung in Gram’s bedroom, my Pyrex mixing bowls, Tom’s drum set and the big amplifier- it’s nice to finally have a place large enough to display all of our possessions, and be able to use them again!

Even though the house isn’t all put together yet, it’s already feeling like “home” to both of us… we keep saying things like “I really like that paint color” or “I like the layout of this room” when we’re both home in the evening, and we already have a good idea of what we’re going to do in the backyard. It’s amazing how that worked- we walked into the model, looked at the layout, and knew we would like living in it, and that our stuff would “fit” in it… and, with the paint, we chose the colors, seriously, in under three minutes. I guess we finally just knew what we wanted in order to make a comfortable home!

We haven’t really had much of a chance to explore “in-town” yet… there’s an “old” section (very small) with a feed store, an authentic-looking Mexican restaurant, a landscaper/gravel yard, and a couple “mall-type” buildings containing several stores (one of the buildings used to be a barn, I think), and a lot of new development farther up the road- strip malls full of chain stores and fast-food restaurants, 2 large grocery stores, a CVS Pharmacy and a Walgreens, etc. There’s always talk of what’s to come- a Walmart or Target, an upscale shopping mall across the highway from the Indian casino south of town, an upscale shopping mall closer to our house, etc. It’s interesting to see it grow, but it’s almost happening TOO fast… hopefully the older part of town will manage to modernize somewhat without getting torn down to make room for a McDonald’s or something. The “small-town” feel is a plus, but “progress” doesn’t usually leave room for that.

Although there is still an additional 7.5 mile detour due to road damage from the recent flooding, I really like my new drive to and from work…there’s just something awesome and uplifting about seeing the mountains, and watching the sky change from dusty lavenders and blues to pinks, corals, and orange as the sun rises behind the Superstition Mountains in the morning. (I wish I could do that view justice with my description, but I’ll never be that good of a writer.) That part of the drive makes up for the 4 lanes of 70mph traffic on the interstate, and for having to be up early enough to leave the house by 5 am. I’d love to take pictures of it, but I’m only up that early to drive to work, and probalby won’t ever have time to stop!

Our house is (for the moment, anyway) “out of town” which I also love… it’s taking a little getting used to, though, not being able to drive a block to the grocery store, or two blocks to the Super WalMart, if we need something- now, the nearest WalMart is probably 20 minutes away, and the grocery store is 10 minutes away. There’s not much development around our subdivision yet, so it’s still pretty agricultural, which makes me feel much more “at home” than living in Gilbert did- there’s cotton fields, a pecan grove, some empty farmland, an egg farm, a feed lot with THOUSANDS of cows, and a HUGE grain elevator right next to railroad tracks… last week, I saw a couple quail along the road, and yesterday, a lizard darted across the road in front of my car! I will hate to see it all go, when it eventually gets built up- hopefully it will take a few years. I should drive around some afternoon and take some pictures of the area, since it probably won’t stay like that forever…

This weekend we’re going to do a Home Depot trip (our first of many, probably) for things like towel bars, a new vacuum, etc, and to look at larger ceiling fans for the bedroom and family room. Tom has the computer up and running, we now have internet access and cable TV, and my guess is the next thing he will work on is his music room… I definitely want to organize my crafting space, too- I have lots of ideas rolling around in my head, and want to get them onto paper! Plus, I need to make thank-you cards for the people who helped us move, as well as the “we’ve moved” cards to send out, so people have our new address and phone number. Then, maybe I could even scrap a page or two!

I will definitely take in-progress pictures of the house as we get things put together, and some pictures of the outside, too- there’s nothing there yet, but they started working on the front landscaping yesterday, and we’re having gravel installed in the backyard next week.

I hope you all are enjoying your August... that Jackie and Bonny Rose are keeping cool in Missouri, that Jeff and Marguerite are taking advantage of the parks and lakes in the Twin Cities, that Judy is relaxing before the school year starts, and that Mom and Dad are keeping up with the gophers in the garden!

August 04, 2006

and so, it begins...

Today is "the start" of the whole moving adventure (and I use the term adventure loosely here). Tom was delayed coming back from Baltimore (what's new?), so our wonderful friend Mike Nejedly is going with me to get the moving truck. Then, we're headed to Bar 4 Storage to empty our storage unit. Tom should be home by about midnight- tomorrow, we'll start dismantling the apartment (starting with the king-sized bed!), at about 6:15 (or earlier, if he has his way). I'll drop Sedona off at Pete & Mac's for Doggie Day Care (and boarding overnight- sad!) at about 7:00. Then, we start moving the apartment to the truck. Eventually, we will head to Maricopa via the detour, since the flooding is still over the road (not that it would matter, because I think the floodwaters have destroyed parts of the road).

We should be situated in the house sometime in the afternoon, and will actually sleep there- maybe on the couch, who knows??

Think cool, dry (chance of thunderstorms!) thoughts for us!!!

August 02, 2006

flooding info- edited- map of detour this shows some pictures of the water- not great without a basis for comparison, but 5 feet of water where there wasn't any just a couple days ago is pretty impressive! this is an arial shot of the (award-winning) 55+ community, Province... you can see the dry wash on the right side of the shot- this is the map showing the detour we have to take... the stretches of "red" mark the main road to/from town; the green and red dashed lines show the (very long!) detours!

water woes

So I've heard alot about flash flooding during the monsoon season here in AZ... I just got my first glimpse of it yesterday, and boy is it going to be annoying! You have to understand one thing, first- there are rivers here that don't have water. (most of the time, that is.) On my way to work, I cross over the Salt River near the airport... it's a big, low, flat expanse of gravel and a few shrubs. On the highway heading south to Maricopa, you cross the Gila River, which also is a big, low, flat expanse of gravel with shrubs and small trees. Except for sometimes. Right now, the Gila River actually has water in, and there was actually enough to create a current. The ground is so dry here that when it does rain a lot, it doesn't really soak in; it just moves along the lowest, easiest path, seemingly coming out of nowhere, and being in a dry wash or canyon when that happens can be life-threatening.

Our subdivision is about 5 miles east of town, and the main road (Honeycutt) in and out has one "bona-fide" dry wash which is posted "Do Not Enter When Flooded" and another smaller dip, which isn't posted. I'm not sure where the rain fell (somewhere in another county, I think), but yesterday, they closed Honeycutt Rd in both places, due to flooding in the washes. I managed to make it out to the house via the highway with a bit of a detour, for a brief stop to take a look at the paint colors (pics of that in the next post!)... as I was heading back out of town, I decided to go back to check one more thing... in the space of that 20 minutes, they had also closed the highway, right where I just drove! I think they opened a levee, or something, because water was just rushing across the road. A couple cars in front of me drove around the barricades and through the water, but I didn't want to do it- it's not safe, even if you think it's not that deep. It's actually against the law- they have something here called the "Stupid Motorist" law; if you do that, and get stuck (or even worse, washed away!), you pay the costs incurred to get you and your vehicle hauled to safety.

So, the prescribed detour will take us approximately 35 miles to drive what should be 5 miles. (Because of the Indian Reservation, I think...) Hopefully the water will recede and be gone by Saturday, because we're paying mileage for the truck we're renting! And, even more, I hope they build a bridge (quickly) across the main wash- lots of people are moving out there, and it's not going to be any fun to double our commute in times like these! Just one of the idiosyncrasies of living in the desert, I guess...