February 29, 2012

My primary assignment this winter has been to discover Tucson - that has kept me pretty busy the past couple of months; there’s a lot to see and do and the weather, of course, is almost always wonderful.

Tucson has a lot of beautiful churches:

St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson

St. Augustine Cathedral, on Stone Avenue, was built in 1897, originally designed to be a Gothic structure, but the thin, pointed spires called for in the plans were never completed due to a lack of funds. Catholics worshiped surrounded by the bare brick walls of the tower bases for 30 years until building started again. This magnificent example of Mexican baroque architecture was finally completed in 1928, inspired by the Cathedral of Queretaro, Mexico. In 1960, except for the façade and towers, the Cathedral was demolished and rebuilt.

An example of Mission architecture is seen at the Benedictine Sanctuary of Perpetual Adoration on Country Club Road. It was built by a local architect, Roy Place, in 1940. Nicknamed “The Pink Rose of the Desert,” it is a working monastery for the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

There are many others, but I will need to do some more wandering to discover Tucson‘s many lovely churches and take photos.

Benedictine Sanctuary of Perpetual AdorationBenedictine Sanctuary of Perpetual Adoration

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Agua Caliente ParkAgua Caliente Park - Tucson, AZ

Finding this park was difficult, but the search was well worth the effort. Pima County’s Agua Caliente Park is a gem. I tried to find it last spring, but never did get there. At last, on my mission to discover Tucson, I was successful. Since then, my plein-air painting class has met there twice for an afternoon of painting - attempting to capture its beauty. If you look hard you can see me there in the distance.

Painting ClassPlein Air Painting Workshop

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Less than a ten minute drive from my apartment I discovered Tucson Botanical Gardens which I joined and visit occasionally. One morning I went to see a watercolor demonstration by a most delightful 83-year-old artist, Manabu Saito. He is very well known for his botanical watercolors, and is also a very good storyteller; it was a most enjoyable morning.

Manabu Saito Painting

Manabu Saito Painting at Tucson Botanical Gardens

I am doing lots of reading in between wandering here & there to discover Tucson:

War of the Worldviews, Science vs. Spirituality by physician Deepak Chopra and physicist Leonard Mlodinow, both masters in their respective fields. A lively and engaging debate between a sharp-witted physicist and an advocate of Eastern spirituality. A great read, even if you already have a fixed opinion on the subject - definitely worthwhile!

Tender at the Bone, Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl. Both funny and sad, by a woman who finds that food is one way to make sense of the world. A good read, and there are recipes, too!

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At Palomino Plaza

The Soul's Code, In Search of Character and Calling by James Hillman. Quite interesting. He doesn't think much of modern day psychology. His theory is that we are all born with the seed (he calls it “acorn”) of our essence already within us. Studies of famous people show that, at very young ages, they already knew what they wanted and were hell-bent on getting what they needed to satisfy their acorn. I suspect mine is all about something creative, as I've always enjoyed time spent doing things with my hands: needlework, painting, knitting, building, gardening, writing, etc.

Robert Redford, The Biography by Michael Feeney Callan. I’ve always admired Redford, both as an actor and an environmentalist, and was surprised to learn that he was often just as confused about life as the rest of us.

Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 Until You're 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley & a Dr. Henry S. Lodge and

Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber are both loaded with information and advice on how to ward off illness and decrepitude until late in our lives. Exercise (lots of it) and diet are key.

I have been walking several times a week along the Rillito River Wash (no water), which is very near my apartment, and am trying to loosen up my body & do yoga again. A friend and I did a hike in Sabino Canyon one day – there’s water there!

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Dam at Sabino LakeSabino Lake Dam in Sabino Canyon - Tucson, AZ

Everything had been proceeding smoothly as I enjoyed my discover Tucson interlude, then on 2/3 my oncologist called. The oncotype test result was back – finally – and I needed to have chemo as I am in the high risk category for recurrence. On 2/5 I had my hair cut, donating two 15” hanks of hair to Lovelocks. On 2/21 I got a 2nd opinion as to treatment options and on 2/22 I changed oncologists, the first one having left me with the uncomfortable feeling of having fallen through a crack somewhere. On 3/5 I will have my first treatment; and every week thereafter for 18-20 weeks I will have another. It turns out, on this treatment plan, I will not lose all my hair!

So, I will have more time than I expected to discover Tucson, and will experience the first half of an AZ summer. I will keep painting and reading, and will head for the East later than planned – maybe August.

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your rv adventures sound amazing 
Susan- How are you doing with your treatments. Hoping they are going well and that you are not feeling too badly. My name is Harris ( yes I am a girl …

Tucson is great! 
Susan, so good to read about your Tucson adventures. I will be thinking of you as you begin and continue your treatment. I am settling into Tucson as …

You've made me want to head down to Tuscon! 
Hi Susie, Orrin and I breezed through Tuscon on our RV Adenture (in our early 40's), but didn't take time to really see it like you have. I think that …

Feeling at home in Tucson 
How beautiful, Susan. I really enjoyed your musings. Makes me want to give Tucson a visit again. Liz There's something about the desert Thanks, …

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Blue Morpho Butterflies at Tucson Botanical GardensBlue Morpho at Tucson Botanical Gardens

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