on current events

world on fire
maybe it always has been
maybe it always will be
maybe it’s human nature
maybe it’s conditioning –
social,
media,
governmental,
religious
maybe it’s just the institutions
maybe it should go back to the people
(but how do you prevent corruption?
people in any sort of power have always been
and will always somehow be
corruptible)
listen
i don’t have the answers
i’m doing what i can right now
researching
reading
listening
(asking questions only for answers i can otherwise not find)
educating myself
which, in the usual scheme of things,
makes me know that i am ever ignorant –
we all are –
and if we pretend otherwise,
that’s the stupidest
and maybe most dangerous
of all.
so.
what to do?
educate.
learn.
love.
be kind.
get angry if you must
(unavoidable at times, i know)
but above all,
please,
love, kindness,and
hope.
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on current events, 5.30.20

Tucson, May 2020

If you know me/us, you know we like to travel. A lot. B does it for his job. Thanks to the shitshow that is our current world (… although less so, now), B hasn’t gone anywhere since this all began. Neither have I.

However, with things opening up a little … we decided that for our mental health, we both needed to get away. So that’s exactly what we did. And of course, where did we go? Tucson.

Tuesday, May 19

We didn’t leave super early like we normally do, mostly because we weren’t trying to make it to Tucson in a day. We woke up, went for a run, and got on the road about 8 or 9 am. We went a slightly different route, going through Utah and into Arizona that way.

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We stopped for lunch in Moab, which officially makes it the longest amount of time I’ve ever officially spent in Moab. We were also able to sit and eat in a restaurant for the first time in like two months, so that was nice.

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Arches National Park was closed (we probably would have stopped in had it not), but if you keep driving out of Moab, you come across Wilson’s Arch, seen here. You can hike up to it, but it was super honking windy, so we nixed that idea.

Our stop for the night was in Flagstaff, Ariz. Dinner was takeout, although we found out when picking up the food that we could have dined in. Whatever.

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Not where we stayed, but it was a super cool sign. We were technically on Route 66 at this point.

Food eaten: egg at home, Starbucks, car snacks, Spoke on Main (Moab), more car snacks, Texas RoadHouse (Flagstaff)

Wednesday, May 20

We woke up relatively early on Wednesday as we had a destination in mind for that morning and we wanted to get there when it opened.

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Wait, what’s this? Apple orchard?

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Yep, just part of Slide Rock State Park! I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of it on Pinterest or it written about on travel sites. The rocks in the park/on the river are super slippery and form a natural water slide. It’s not that long, but it is super fun. There’s also a place you can jump from ledges into the water … which we both did after some hesitation.

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Taken after sliding down the rocks.

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Ledge jumping.

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When the bucket list item is worth it.

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Further up the river.

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We’ll be back, Slide Rock.

After Slide Rock, we deck changed at the car back into normal clothes and got back on the road. We didn’t stop in Sedona, but we did drive through – so cute. Will also need to return there at a later date to explore.

Our next stop was the Phoenix metro area. The drive down was absolutely stunning, particularly when we first started seeing the saguaros. We went down in the middle of blooming season and saguaros in bloom? Gorgeous.

We got lunch first and then did a short stop just for me.

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Been meaning to find this piece of interactive Kelsey Montague art for a while. Hoped to do it on either the January or (non-blogged about) March trip, but alas. Then a stop at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for more at home coffee for B in Scottsdale and Cadence Running Company in Gilbert for me for another pair of running shoes. B took over driving the rest of the way into Tucson and we detoured in Marana to the Pinal Air Park to mournfully look at all the parked airplanes not being flown thanks to the virus-reduced schedules.

We stayed at a new hotel in Tucson – the Westin La Paloma – mostly because we found a decent deal AND they had a lap pool. Pools in Arizona had opened on the 15th and this triathlete hadn’t swam in 75 days.

We checked in, tossed all the crap in the room, and got in a tiny swim. Really pretty tiny since I really felt the pool layoff (I tend to get nauseous my first swim or two back from a layoff, and this was no exception) AND I really needed food. But it was SO NICE to swim again.

Then dinner, and bed.

Food eaten: Chick-fil-a, Starbucks, In-n-Out Burger, eegee’s.

Thursday, May 21

I woke up early ostensibly to swim, but I realized I really needed food first. So food was had first. We called around to a few places to make sure they had dine-in (not everyone did), but Baja Cafe, the place Seton and Debbie took us back in January did, so that’s where breakfast was. From breakfast, it was off to Saguaro National Park (East) to go for a short trail run/hike.

There … I saw something very special.

For a bit of backstory, during this quarantine/shelter-in-place, I’ve reconnected with an old friend from the grade school days. She’s now actually a legit shaman and has been running in-person moon circles in California for a few years. However, as all of our lives have been transferred online (more than they already were), she decided to host an online circle. Since it was free and I was curious, I signed up. And then I did three more (and paid by the end gladly). During the moon circles, we do a guided meditation into our heartspace. I’d seen the Sonoran desert in three of the four and a Gila monster in the last two. The first time, it just showed up and the second time as an actual spirit guide. And then I started seeing them everywhere – all on my random desert feeds I follow on Instagram and even as a mural on some building off I-25 that I drive past all the time and SOMEHOW just realized that it had a Gila on it (I’d already noticed the awesome trout). So, on this trip, I had a feeling I’d see one in the wild. You need to remember, however, that spotting them is extremely rare. They spend something like 98% of their lives underground. In all my trips to Tucson (which is many), I’d seen one once and even then it was only crossing the road. I’d never seen one up close, so to speak. Both B and I thought that might change this trip. And it did.

But it might not have even happened. As we did our run, we ran a different path at the fork in the trail than I/we usually do. We could have just turned around and went back from whence we came, but I wanted to go the normal route. We would just finish the run distance whenever we came to it and then could just hike back.

On this whole run, I was constantly scanning the surroundings, looking for a Gila. And then I finally told myself, stop. If you consciously look for it, you won’t find it. (and you might hurt yourself for not paying attention where you’re stepping on a rocky trail.) So I finally started to let go. And as we approached one of the washes you cross … I saw something, stopped my Garmin, and squee’ed.

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B: “Why did we stop?”
Me, pointing: “Loooooook!”
B: “Where? What?”
Me, more emphatically: “LOOOOOK! IT’S A GILA!”
B: *squees with me*

Little lizard wanted nothing to do with us – we tried being quiet as we got closer (iPhone cameras, or at least ours, don’t zoom well and I wanted to actually get a damn picture) – but no, they waddled off and away from us. Which was adorable (go find one scampering off).

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You almost never see pictures of them straight, but this was the clearest I could get. And even then, this is the edited, enhanced, insta version.

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Wandering off into the desert.

Man, that made my trip. No joke.

We finished up the last little bit of the run and then continued wandering in the park a little.

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Saguaro blossom.

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Ahh, cacti.

After Saguaro, we considered riding … but swam instead and then just spent most of the rest of the day outside by the pool. Dinner was our one take-out meal in Tucson, as there was no way I was missing out on a cheese crisp (that came in a pizza box) and green corn tamale from Casa Molina.

Food eaten: Baja Cafe, Starbucks, food from one of the random Westin La Paloma restaurants, Casa Molina

Friday, May 22

Friday, we woke up and decided to try a brand new place for breakfast that I had seen referenced on the social medias – Joe’s Pancake House on Kolb.

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We both love low-key breakfast joints … probably more than we like the fancy/hipster ones. Plus all that food cost us like $15, which is even better. I like places like Frank’s/Francisco’s where you can get a killer food deal.

After breakfast, it was a bit of driving around exploring … partially to get me to some murals.

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I realized too late that I completely forgot about the new Tucson Together mural (and I need to find out where it is) … otherwise I would have tried to find that one, too. We also hit up a rock shop and then lunch.

Most of the afternoon was spent doing some admin work and lazing about the hotel room, but we did end up going on a bike ride before dinner and DATE NIGHT IN AN ACTUAL RESTAURANT AGAIN. We also tried a new place on the west side that we’d driven past a few times but never actually stopped.

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Inside.

It was DELICIOUS. B’s steak was fantastic and every time I grabbed a bone from my ribs, it just came out, leaving the meat behind.

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You kind of see that here. If you went outside to behind where that sign was, you can actually see the pit/grill they used. My kind of place. Highly recommended.

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The mud pie wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it still wasn’t bad.

After dinner, we quick hopped over Gates Pass for the sunset. Unfortunately we’re in the time of year where Tucson has like two clouds, so it wasn’t as fabulous as it was in January.

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One last stop for a few more “bucket list Tucson photos” finally got me this sign:
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and driving to it got me this one:
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(For those not in the know, Magic Carpet was the BEST MINI GOLF EVER back in the day in Tucson. Fun, interactive holes, two courses … it was the greatest. R.I.P. I miss you Magic Carpet. One of the few Tucson things I deeply regret never being able to have B experience with me.)

Food eaten: Joe’s Pancake House, Starbucks, eegee’s, Baggin’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Daisy Mae’s Steak House.

Saturday, May 23

After one last swim for who knows how long (*cries*), it was on the road to get out of town. This was a weird Tucson trip in that we didn’t go the I-25-Hatch-I-10 route at all. Part of it was because that New Mexico still is pretty locked down, but part of it was also to experience some different stuff. We drove north out of Tucson to Phoenix and then detoured toward Kingman as B wanted to see how quiet Las Vegas was (and to extend the trip a touch longer).

This made it a drive neither of us had done before and one totally worth it as we drove past the tiny Arizona town of Wickenburg that looked TOTALLY AWESOME and became yet another place that we need to go back to and visit. Seriously, this is why I love road-tripping and taking weird back routes. You stumble upon the greatest stuff.

Nevada/Las Vegas was weird. I tried going to a JoAnn’s to find Vegas Golden Knights fabric to make more masks, but that was a massive fail and a half. What wasn’t was finally being able to visit the new Cafe Lola location in Henderson. Even though they didn’t have my pasteis de nada (boo).

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Roped off. No influencer pics for you!

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Weird feeling compared to the Summerlin location, but I think that’s more the fault of the current state of things as opposed to anything they could control.

B wanted to drive the Strip – that was weird, seeing all of the normally open doors shut and barred. When we left it was the happiest we’d ever been leaving Las Vegas. Usually we wouldn’t be that excited to get to our evening destination (Cedar City), but alas.

Food eaten: Waffle House, Starbucks, In-n-Out Burger, Cafe Lola, Brody’s Mexican, Crumbl Cookies.

Saturday, May 23

Our final day was the most boring day – just a drive day.

Or so we thought … as it decided to start spitting snow in Vail and then didn’t stop precipitating (snow until just after Georgetown and then steady rain) until we got home. Yay.

Food eaten: Starbucks, Einstein Bros. Bagels, home snacks, food at the brother and sister-in-laws.

A little surreal to travel, but it was a much needed trip for both of us.

Date Night in the Time of COVID

As you might know by now, we like to do a monthly date night. We started it … two years ago, I think? … and have kept it going since.

Sometimes it’s simple – just dinner out. Sometimes it’s a bit more.

But what do you do when everything’s closed?

You figure out a way to do date night at home.

First of all, you dress up, because sweats aren’t gonna do it.

Secondly, you get take out from a place you’d maybe normally do dinner at if it were a normal date night.

In our case, we went to Rio, which we’ve done a few times for date night before. Mainly because we love their damn fajitas.

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Although they offered their (in)famous margs to go as well, we just made our own at home.

Next, you do a fun activity. In our case, it was building a couch fort in which to watch a movie in.

Or attempting, as the case may be. We successfully made one at our apartment back in the day, but this effort? FAIL.

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Tried to make it taller … that may have been our downfall. And maybe lighter blankets/sheets would have worked better. Who knows.

As a result, you want to have a solid plan B. The husband actually came up with a great one – make a super comfy spot on the floor in which to watch a movie on.

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Couch cushions under a ton of blankets to have a comfy spot to snuggle on.

Finally, we rented a movie on DirecTV in order to make it more “date-like” as opposing to just choosing something out of the DVD collection. In our case, it was something I’d seen before but B hadn’t – the LEGO Movie. I did not guess who much he’d love it, but he did.

And in full disclosure, we changed into comfy clothes for the movie part. There are perks to date night at home, and one is not having to stay in heels.

Hoping we can do something a bit more out and about for May, but if not, we know how to improvise.

#tucsonthingswemiss

Biking up Lemmon
And icy cold eegee’s
Looking for Gilas and green corn tamales
Browsing in Bookman’s; well that’s just sheer bliss
These are all the Tucson things that I miss

Eating cheese crisps at Casa Molina
Seeing roadrunners
Quail and javelina
Saguaro sunsets that no one can diss
These are all the Tucson things that I miss

Tours at Old Tucson and Mission del Bac
So much of the food; you know it all rocks
The Desert Museum and snakes that do hiss
These are all the Tucson things that I miss

In these hard times
Where life’s not “right”
And I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my Tucson delights
And then I don’t feel so bad
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#tucsonthingswemiss, 4.13.20

The VisitTucson Instagram page asked us to make a video of us talking about the Tucson things we miss, and, well, with many apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, I came up with this. No I’m not sharing the video. If you want to see it, I’m sure you can figure out how.

First Quarter Style: 2020

Only two outfits this time around. Clearly I haven’t been doing anything. And, given everything, we’ll see if that changes for the second quarter …

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Worn to Elway’s for Denver Restaurant Week/February date night.

Headband: Skirt Sports
Necklace: … Target? I think?
Earrings: Target
Sweater: Ann Taylor LOFT
Bracelet: Express
Skirt: Banana Republic
Shoes: JustFab Online

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Worn to dinner on our “date weekend” up skiing.

Beanie: Skirt Sports
Vest: Skirt Sports
Sweater: Target (Merona brand, IIRC)
Tights: Skirt Sports
Boots: The North Face

musings on the zombie apocalypse

rapidly spreading
dangerous
keep yourself isolated
keep positive
proper distance
breathe
(try to remember to do that)
(even though it’s hard)
(oh so very very hard)
keep hope in the forefront
and fear in the rear view
and maybe
just maybe
we’ll get through this.
and oh –
if you thought i was speaking of the virus –
you would be wrong.
i meant the
news.
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musings on the zombie apocalypse, 3.22.20

On Jambalaya and Memories

I probably haven’t mentioned him here, but my favorite professor in college was the late, great Jack Falla. I took two of his classes and he helped me get my first paid journalism job after school (a paid internship with USA Hockey Magazine). When I donated my tiny bit as I graduated, I did it in his honor. We emailed regularly between graduation and his passing, and I helped him with some research for his novel, Saved (in which I actually am in the acknowledgement section. I’m also very fortunate to still have a rough draft of the novel as well. One of those things I will save in a fire).

Anyway, if you took his class in college, you got a recipe of his.

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Some kids, after no longer having him as a professor, got to eat this jambalaya with Jack at his house in Natick after skating on his very famous backyard rink, the Bacon Street Omni. I regret that I was unable to ever make this happen.

I have held on to that recipe for 16 years and have never made it.

I’ve never been the most adventurous person when it comes to food, although I have gotten a lot better over the past decade or so. I am also NOT a person who loves spicy food, and this recipe has some spice in it.

However – and I don’t know what prompted it this year – I finally decided to give it a whirl.

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Wearing a BU sweatshirt, I followed the first instructions of “Start drinking (only if legal age and not driving). And put on a good cajun music CD (Beau Soleil works for me)” … except I threw on the BeauSoleil Pandora station.

I’ve never cooked to music, though I know many who do so regularly, and it made me think it’s something I need to do more often.

The recipe is fairly straightforward and was easy to follow. My husband was in love with the smells starting to emanate from our kitchen.

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It came together nicely and we were both very excited to dig in.

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B was regretful Jack wasn’t alive, because I’m sure he’d have made me send off an email, praising this jambalaya to the heavens. I misread a bit of the recipe on the amount of cayenne pepper to add, taking the spice from the hoped-for wussy quantities to somewhere around the realm of what would be (for me) total nuclear.

We had the leftovers next day with some good friends, tossing on Cajun music once more.

I shared that I had made it in an often dormant FB group, “In Memory of Jack Falla.” I think the last post in the group had been on the 10th anniversary of his passing. His son commented, wishing that I could send some on. I replied that if I could do so affordably, I happily would. His response? “I’m sure you would. Just knowing the recipe lives and friends are thinking about him are enough for me.”

The ones we love who have left us are never truly far away as long as we remember them and keep them alive in our memories and our hearts. Jack, I miss you more than I probably should, but I do. Thanks for sharing this gift with us.