TUCSON ADVENTURES CONTINUE November 12, 2012

The monsoon season finally ended and Tucson adventures are getting chillier; it dropped into the 30s one night recently, and only made it to 57 the next day. The sun was shining when I ran to the market about 9:00am all bundled up, and I was surrounded by people in T-shirts. They must be natives. Guess I will have to start turning on the heat occasionally. This is the weather that brings the snowbirds each winter.

It’s been three months since I sent out an update to everyone. There have been a lot of Tucson adventures, of course, and I’ll give you the highlights.

My chemo port was removed the end of August, so I couldn’t swim for a couple of weeks, but the weather was starting to cool down, so it was much more pleasant for walking.


I’ve become a vegan – pretty much, anyway. I miss cheese the most and still use parmesan occasionally. I continue to be intimidated by the gigantic juicer, but have started adding a big bunch of spinach to my smoothies in the morning. The resulting color is not too appealing, but they taste great and I’m full of energy for my Tucson adventures.

I flew to NC the end of September and had a great visit with my friend June, who has a mini-farm in Selma with four horses and two gorgeous yellow Labs. I got to help her unload two huge trailer-loads of hay, and had a chance to see several other terrific folks from my past as well. The last of my worldly goods, which June has been storing for five years, were all packed up and taken away - they arrived here in AZ a few weeks ago. I had many more paintings than I had remembered, which served as an inspiration to paint a lot of walls before they got here. Parts of the tin house are looking pretty nice.

For all you RVers out there, RVer Marianne Edwards, who wrote the wonderful Frugal Shunpikers Guides to RV Boondocking, has set up a network of people around the world who are willing to offer free parking to RVers for a night or two on their own property. This is a wonderful idea for all those who love boondocking – so check it out at Boondockers Welcome - Be My Guest RV Parking.

I’m just sorry I won’t get a chance to use this service myself. A major Tucson adventure in the past three months has been cleaning out the RV and putting it up for sale, on consignment, with Freedom RV here in town. Primarily it’s about money - I just couldn’t justify the cost of keeping it now that I have the tin house. The events of the past year caused a loss of momentum, I guess. There were a few sleepless nights while making the decision; I know I’ll miss the excitement of new vistas and new friends on the road, but I’m enjoying the space in the tin house and feel wonderfully at home here in Tucson.

The Pool at Friendly Village of the Catalinas - so nice!

Last week I traded in my 2007 standard transmission Corolla on a 2010 RAV-4 with automatic everything – what a treat! I do more city driving these days and the RAV will make my Tucson adventures easier.

I’ve been busy with a watercolor workshop, and the writing workshop had a fall session which just ended. There are wonderful people in both of them; those of us in the writing workshop have gotten especially close as it’s a small group and we share very personal stories at times.

On 9/20 the writing workshop ended 20 minutes early so we could go out to watch the spaceship Endeavor fly over Tucson, riding piggyback on its way to Los Angeles. As a special salute to former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, who commanded the Endeavor, the flight came down to 1500' and was easy to see, though too swift for photographs from our vantage point. That was a pretty neat Tucson adventure.

Recently a squamous cell skin cancer was removed near my right eye. I’ve heard Southern Arizona has the highest incidence of skin cancers in the country, and that's a Tucson adventure I'd just as soon not repeat. I guess I’ll have to do a better job of using sunscreen and wearing a hat.

Bijou Strikes a Pose

I’ve just been setting up a new website at Fine Art America. At this point, I’ve loaded many of my best photos, and soon I will add photos of my paintings. People will be able to visit the site and order prints or greeting cards. Wish me luck with this very different Tucson adventure!

As always, I’ve been reading and have devoured lots of books in the past three months. At present, I'm halfway through the 723 pages of Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph P. Lash. It’s a very interesting story, but I probably won’t make get to the end as it’s on inter-library loan and can’t be renewed.

BOOKS:

Dog Years by Mark Doty. A beautifully written and intimate memoir reflecting on our feelings for animals and what they teach us of life, love and loss. Keep a box of Kleenex handy.

Cherished, 21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved and Lost edited by Barbara Abercrombie - marvelous essays

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. In the year following the sudden death of her husband of 40 years, and the severe illness of her daughter, she struggles to make sense of the events and her feelings.

The White Album by Joan Didion. In this collection of essays of the late sixties and seventies, her attention ranges from subjects as unlikely as biker movies, the history of shopping centers, the Hoover Dam, and a legendary Mexican breeder of orchids in Malibu. Always intelligent, often amusing commentary.

Brokeback Mountain - Annie Proulx. Gritty story. I miss the gorgeous scenery of the movie.

Bird Cloud - Annie Proulx. A memoir - the story of designing & building her house in Wyoming on land that used to be owned by the Nature Conservancy. Lots of great information on the history & geology of the area and the birds that frequent the land. She has terrific powers of observation - a great writer. I'd love to see her house.

Nightwoods - Charles Frazier. Memorable characters, a little romance, some mystery - a great read. Every bit as good, or better, than Cold Mountain.

Empire of Ice - Gretel Ehrlich. Stories from her 2007 travels, by helicopter, dogsled, and reindeer, to document the lives of the indigenous Arctic peoples during this time of climate change. Oral histories and contemporary voices tell how their way of life, based on ice, is disappearing. An adventure and a lament.

The Color of Water, A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother - James McBride. A combination of memoir and oral history, McBride's story of being one of 12 black children growing up with a white Jewish mother is delightful.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd - Jim Fergus. A novel based on an historical event: in 1854 at a Fort Laramie peace conference, a Northern Cheyenne chief requested that the Army give his people a gift of one thousand white women. In return the Cheyennes would give the Army one thousand horses. The resulting children would facilitate the tribes' assimilation into the white mans' culture. The Army refused and the peace conference collapsed, but the resulting novel is a wonderful rendering of the decline of one culture and the forcible ascent of another.

God is Not Great, How Religion Poisons Everything - Christopher Hitchins. An argument for a more secular approach to life, based on extensive and learned research on the major religious texts. "The voice of reason is soft. But it is very persistent."

The Servant Economy, Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class - Jeff Faux. Ye gods! A hard look at the corruption of our government by big money on Wall Street, at the Pentagon and in major corporations. His last words: "Get the pigs out of the trough." Our future depends on it.

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell. I'm wondering how they could possibly make a movie out of this – and, from what I’ve heard, they didn’t manage too well. A series of stories throughout history, all tied together in strange ways, and ending - maybe not so far in the future - in a somewhat frightening "corpocracy." After reading the above book, I'd say that's a likely result of present day politics.

Sixkill - Robert Parker. Parker died late last year so this is his last Spenser novel. He was a master of saying much with little and great with dialog. I will miss him!

This Land is Their Land - Barbara Ehrenreich. The author turns her biting and incisive satire on a nation "scarred by deepening inequality, corroded by distrust, and shamed by its official cruelty."

The Great Failure: A Bartender, A Monk, and My Unlikely Path to Truth - Natalie Goldberg. A candid memoir, telling of two important men in her life: a larger-than-life Jewish bartender, who happened to be her father, and a celebrated Zen master, with whom she studied for about 12 years. An engrossing read, detailing the love and betrayal she experienced with each of them.

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No doubt we are all immensely relieved that the election campaigning is over. I'll be happy to take my Tucson adventures without constant political ads for a few years. Hopefully our political apparatus will start working better. Heaven knows it couldn’t get too much worse. Whoops! Better go knock on some wood.

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