January 2, 2013

I’ve had lots of delightful Tucson adventures the past couple of months: a first visit to the Reid Park Zoo on a beautiful day was lots of fun; a trip to Tubac, an artist colony about one hour south of Tucson and one of my favorite places to spend some time; an evening walk with Gail and her hiking club through Winterhaven, a neighborhood noted for its Christmas
decorations. It was downright amazing to see how many lights and decorations some houses had, some of it very lovely, much of it way over the top. Evidently the power company comes through with their cherrypickers to string lights on the large trees along the streets. One palm tree had white lights wound around the trunk all the way up. I tried to take a
couple of pictures with my cellphone, but they didn’t turn out.

tucson adventures: giraffes

I’ve been eating oranges from my very own orange tree - a new Tucson adventure, and one that many Tucsonans enjoy! I put half of one in my smoothie every morning. They’re very good!

Poor Bijou has had a tough time of it lately. On November 12, she had six teeth extracted and the healing has been difficult. She seemed to be doing okay until the last few weeks, though frequently 

gagging on her food then acting as though it was going to attack her and not going near it until I moved it to a new location. Most disturbing was some sort of personality change. Though she jumps into my lap whenever I sit down, if I touch her the wrong way she whirls and hisses at me, pupils huge, then jumps down and runs off.

I took her to see the surgeon again the other day; he thinks she has a pocket of infection where one of the teeth was extracted and may also have some infection in her throat. She got two shots – with much fighting and yowling – and needs to go back next Sunday, at which time he may have to sedate her to get a better look at the problem. So Bijou’s Tucson adventures lately have been very unhappy ones. However, the shots appear to have worked a miracle – she’s eating well, with no problems, and the hissing has almost disappeared.

elephants at reid park zoo

My savings took a major hit as I replaced furnace, AC, and hot water heater last month. All were at the end of their life, and would obviously need to be replaced within a few years anyway; I’d already had to have work done on the AC one very hot Sunday (double the service call fee) in August. So, it’s done and everything seemed to be working fine, until …

My alarm woke me at 6:30 am on 12/27 and I discovered the temperature in my bedroom was just 56 degrees. Since the furnace is supposed to start warming things up at 6:00, something was clearly wrong. I checked the thermostat, which looked okay, then got dressed and took a flashlight out to the shed to look at the furnace. Maybe there was a reset button. On my way there I heard a loud, constant kind of rushing noise which sounded nearby so called Jim (mgr/maintenance) and he said there had been a break in the main gas line, it was already being worked on, but repairs could take several days.

lions at reid park

I went to Wal-Mart and bought a space heater, came back and discovered there was no water either; the water line had been broken – I suspect by the guys digging. So, back I went to Wal-Mart and bought five gallons of water. The water line was fixed by the end of the day, but it is now day seven of no heat, hot water, or stove. I bought thermal underwear - both tops and bottoms. Management bought space heaters for anyone who wanted one, so I got one – between the two I manage to heat whatever area I’m working in. This particular Tucson adventure made the news yesterday – wow!

Sunday, management brought in portable showers, but it’s been a very cold week and somehow the idea of taking a shower & washing hair in an unheated portable shower didn’t thrill me. Luckily my friend Clare lives close by so I had a wonderful hot shower, much overdue, at her house yesterday morning. There should be some news today on how much longer this Tucson adventure is going to last.

flamingos at reid park


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking - Susan Cain.  1/3 to 1/2 of us are introverts in a world that overvalues extroverts.  Filled with stories of real people, well researched, this book charts the rise of the extrovert ideal in the last century and how much we lose by undervaluing introverts.

Mortality - Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens was struck with esophageal cancer in June 2010 and died 18 months later on December 15, 2011. Throughout his ordeal he wrote continually - this little book is a description of the torments of illness, its taboos, the language that
surrounds it, how it changes our experience of, and relationship with the world. Both personal and philosophical, it is one man's story of confronting the mystery of death.

mural on el minuto

El Minuto - Mexican Restaurant in the Barrio

Calico Joe - John Grisham at his best.

Shock Wave - John Sandford. Virgil Flowers is an engaging detective - a good read.

Reading My Father - Alexandra Styron. The youngest daughter of William Styron explores her father's life, his triumphant novels, his drinking and carousing, the friendships with other well-known writers and luminaries of his generation and his clinical depression. Totally absorbing.

The Tiger’s Wife – Tea Obreht. Myth and magic interweave with story in the Balkans. A beautifully written first novel.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats – Jan-Phillipp Sendker. A complex and moving tale of the unyielding power of love.

A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid. An 80-page passionate and angry essay about her childhood home on the small and beautiful island of Antigua, laying bare the corruption and the shameful legacy of its colonial past that tourists never see.

Annie John – Jamaica Kincaid. A charming and willful young girl’s coming of
age in Antigua - delightful and touching.

Three Lives/Stories of The Good Anna, Melanctha and The Gentle Lena – Gertrude Stein. This was a totally boring and oddly hypnotic read. (I joined a book club and this is the first book assigned – can’t wait to hear what others say about it. I think it was Stein’s first book – surely she got better!)

mural at the elysian gardens

Mural in the Elysian Gardens at La Pilita

I’ve been doing quite a bit of drawing and working to master watercolor. The watercolor guild has a paint-out every week (weather permitting) and the pastel society has one twice a month. I will be joining as many of these as possible over the next few months. Some of the planned paint-out locations are in areas I’ve never explored so this is a good opportunity for new Tucson adventures.

Recently a few watercolorists met at La Pilita, a little museum with adjacent shrine and a Mexican restaurant, El Minuto Cafe, in the Barrio. I walked around taking photos, did a little drawing, then we had lunch. The area used to be called the Elysian Grove, and there were springs and gardens. In 1903 “The Great Train Robbery” was shown outdoors there, reportedly the first motion picture shown in Tucson. I bet the folks really enjoyed that Tucson adventure.

The wishing shrine is a national historic landmark and the only shrine in the US dedicated to a sinner buried in unconsecrated ground; it is affectionately called “El Tiradito” – the Castaway. The legends about it all involve a triangle love affair in the early 1870s. The mysterious powers of “El Tiradito” are still a part of local Mexican lore and culture.

Yeah! I have heat again!

Happy New Year!

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el tiradito: the wishing shrine

El Tiradito - The Wishing Shrine in the Barrio

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