Do you ever go through times when everything is going so well, you’ve forgotten what it’s like to have any stress or problems in your life? That happens to me, and it frequently precedes what I’ve just decided to call an avalanche.

I was in my 20s the first time I experienced an avalanche. I was working, living in Chicago with three roommates, and having the time of my life. I worked hard at keeping my checkbook balanced, and one month I discovered I had a pile of unspent money. I immediately decided I deserved a trip to California to visit my cousin, made the arrangements, paid for the tickets, and had a great time, spending a week at the beach, Disneyland, and enjoying the sun and Barbara’s company. It wasn’t long afterwards that my happy memories dissolved into dismay. I had somehow made a mistake balancing my checkbook, and was now overdrawn.  When you live from paycheck to paycheck, it can be pretty hard to climb out of that! As an avalanche, it was probably a pretty small one. Most of my avalances have been related to money, but not all.

I was for a long time, a follower, not a leader, retiring, not outgoing, but something happened at some point in my life, and I discovered I was happy and effective when I spoke up and began suggesting ideas, and implementing them. I was on my way to being a leader! It’s an exciting life for someone like me to find herself and begin to shine at meetings, and be creative and efficient at what I did. A doer, however attracts attention, and begins to be asked to do more. Sure, I’ll be on this committee, ok, I’ll get this done, I’d love to be responsible for that. Before I knew it, the excitement gave way to overwork, and the overwork turned into a black cloud of pressure, and interactions with people became difficult. It would take me a long time to realize that my activities had overwhelmed me, like an avalanche, overwhelming a skier. When I did, I’d cut back entirely, drop everything, and go back to staying in the background and isolating myself with people.

So those are the most frequent types of avalanches I’ve experienced. I thought I had learned to keep them at bay through periodic maintenance, like avalanches are kept at bay by periodically dynamiting them before the snow builds up to avalanche proportions.

But maybe not – I seem to be in an avalanche of epic proportions, one that perhaps contains elements of both types – financial and over-committed.

I had the bad fortune to spend a good amount of money on my trip to Las Vegas, a trip I could afford. Bad timing – I hit the medicare doughnut hole, my air conditioner needed an expensive repair, my car needed expensive work done on it, and suddenly I’m cutting back on spending as much as I can, trying to get back to a normal bank balance where I have enough money for upcoming bills.

So that’s a critical financial avalanche in the making. I don’t think I’m at a critical or even precarious point. I’m not over-committed. I don’t think I’m going to over-commit. But the fact remains, I’m doing a lot. I was just elected to the residents advisory committee here at Waltners’ with responsibilities in three general areas. When I get back to Tucson, I’ll be serving as the president of the Art Guild, the leader of the Computer Club, facilitator for Covenant Circles at church. I’ve just been asked to serve on a committee at church, one that I’d probably enjoy and almost feel I should accept, but I think I have enough sense to know not to. There is also another new activity going on at church that sounds fascinating, and one I’m sure I’d enjoy, but I am sure I’ll turn it down too.  Still, I feel quite close to over-committing, like I have to avoid making any loud noises that will bring an avalanche of problems down on me.

I can’t let this happen. I can’t get buried in an avalanche of my own making. If you relate to what I’m going through, maybe you have some suggestions for me. I’d like to hear from you.

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Posting this using my Droid just to say I can!

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Dinner at Kathleen and Ski’s


I can’t believe I didn’t get any photos of the night we arrived at Kathleen and Ski’s house prior to going to Las Vegas! Kathleen had arranged a surprise dinner for Sandy’s birthday, and had invited our cousins Mike, Cindy and Laurie, as well as Sandy’s step-son Kevin and his bride, Lori. We had a lovely dinner, and such a great conversation with all the people we don’t see often enough and whom we love.

The picture at the left is one Kathleen took of the four cousins.

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Back from Las Vegas, but not home yet

at the pool

Relaxing in Las Vegas

That’s right, arrived in Phoenix about 5:30 this evening, a little late, but at least we’re here. I’m staying here at Kathleen’s until tomorrow morning, and then I’ll head off to Show Low. We had a wonderful trip, staying at the Monte Carlo Hotel and right on the strip. Our rooms weren’t ready when we checked in, so we spent a good part of the afternoon at the pool. I enjoyed it all – as you can see, I’m very happy relaxing in the sun, taking a dip in the pool, lazing down the Lazy River. About Las Vegas, let me just say I’m glad I finally went, I enjoyed it thoroughly, it’s a great place to people watch and to take in the sights and bright lights, to see what creative minds can think up in beauty and architecture, and to taste a little luxury in one’s food. I’ll have more to say about the trip to the Grand Canyon in a different post. For pictures of our fun times, see http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2070049&id=1477857224&l=0b56383f42

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What happens in Vegas…

will be fun, I hope. Driving to my niece’s in Phoenix tomorrow to begin the festivities for my sisters birthday. We leave the next day for Las Vegas, and for some reason are going to stay there a couple of days before we take a bus tour to the Grand Canyon, and the Sky Walk. As my sister says, she is venturing into the unknown in the last few decades of her life, and what better symbol of that than to venture out onto a glass bridge out over the Grand Canyon! I think I’m going to be fine doing it, but I can recall some panic attacks over such simple things as transfering from a dock to a boat, and realize I’ll never know until I try it.

Well, it’s been a good week in Show Low. I’ve nearly finished a portrait of my oldest grandson, and have three of my galaxy series finished, or close to it. When I get back to Show Low, I’m going to demonstrate some watercolor techniques using washes to our art class. I’ve also got to get busy getting a date settled for this years art show.

Have I mentioned the web site I’m doing for the residents of our RV resort? I’m having a great time doing a wordpress web site, and must say it looks good.

Looking forward our trip to Vegas, I know for sure it’ll be my sister, two of her daughters, one of her granddaughters, and myself. I’ll write all about it when I return.

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Maybe the Hokey Pokey is what it’s All About

Don’t mind me, someone posted something similar on FB recently, and it tickled my funny bone. So I’m going to try to fit this post in with the subject.

I’ve gone to three water classes since I joined Body Works. Why did I join? Because water aerobics are about the only exercise I can really do, and do for a full hour at that Because I feel better after I’ve exercised. Because water aerobics firms and tones my body to a certain extent, and I’ve even been known to lose a little weight doing this form of exercise. All these reasons, and because I enjoy it.

Monday I wasn’t able to go, I won’t be going any Mondays during the summer, so I went to the Water Therapy class on Tuesday, with a bit of trepidation. I thought it was a half hour class. I thought it would be easy, a lot of stretching, but nothing strenuous. I was wrong on both counts. We really worked our bodies, arms, legs and everything in between, and for a full hour.  I thought I’ll be sore for a week when I finished.

This morning, Wednesday, I was ready for more punishment. The preceding Friday, we went to the pool early to get some exercise in before class, since we had to leave early. So I never really got the full aerobic treatment. Today we went through the wringer. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Toward the end, I was just putting in the motions.

So, mostly I’m currently spending my days in exercise, painting, reading, and computing, with a little time for friends and games down at the club house. And I find myself sore from the exercise, and tense from the lack of it, and I ask, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” And I answer, “the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about.”

And then I look out at the trees, and the finches 7 on one feeder and 4 on the other, and listen to them chatter at one another, or a squirrel comes along, doing acrobats in the trees, trying to get food out an empty bird feeder, or a stellar jay climbs up and down the tree, and a robin hops around looking for food, and I guess I know what it’s all about.

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Painting and Reading

I spent a nice day today, painting and reading. I’m working on the second of my acrylic series Galaxy: Infra-Red and it’s proving much harder than the Galaxy: Gamma Ray painting. I’m convinced I’m not going to be satisfied with them at all until I do them in wax.

This morning at art class, Ruth lent me a beautiful book called The Tao of Watercolor and I’ve enjoyed reading it so much, and love the illustrations so much, I’ve ordered my own copy.  Again, I think they will make great inspiration for my encaustic painting.

This afternoon, I received my Nook. It’s been over a week I’ve been waiting for it, and I was so excited to receive it. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to use in some places. I’m having trouble selecting the book I want to read, and I had an awful time trying to connect to my wi-fi and register with Barnes & Noble. The touch sensitive keyboard is awkward and I kept making mistakes, then most of the time being unable to correct them. After several hours, I finally got it connected and registered, so won’t have to go through that again. But I hope they fix that problem. I’ll be interested in hearing from any Nook users out there that have figured out how to use the keyboard or how to select a book in My Library. Also, would love to hear from any Nook users who are interested in lending and borrowing books. Or just someone who can tell me what their experience is. Or how about some e-book recommendations?

So now I’ve been going back and forth between painting, reading on the Nook and reading a real book about painting.

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Hot and Humid

It’s been hot and humid today, after a huge downpour yesterday afternoon. There was a lightening strike while I was painting on the porch that was so near, and so loud, that I screamed! Turned out when I went inside later, my electricity was out in the living room. I have two outlets in the living room that work – one my computer is plugged into and the other the a/c is plugged into. Since I haven’t been using the a/c, I could plug in a lamp or maybe the tv, but don’t want cords crossing the floor ready to be stepped on and tripped over in the dark.

I checked the circuit breakers, and can only find breakers for the rest of the house. Nothing for the living room. Tomorrow I’ll call my rv repairman (name of Ben) and see if he can find another circuit breaker hidden somewhere, or figure out what’s wrong.

Anyhow, here is is, hot and humid nearly all day, when suddenly this afternoon it cooled off appreciably. It’s now raining, and that’s good. It’s not raining hard, and that’s ok too. I’m not going out anywhere, and it’s all ok.

I worked on my paintings this afternoon. I’m going to try to do a series of paintings of the galaxy as shown in different wavelengths. I hope to do them in encaustics eventually, but while I’m up here I’ll give them a try in acrylics.

Did I mention I bought a Nook?  Probably I did, and I’ve been waiting a week now for it to be delivered. It’s gone from New Jersey to Colorado to Phoenix. I hope the next stop is right here in Show Low. Maybe tomorrow.

After two very strenuous sessions of water aerobics, I’ve switched back and forth from feeling great to hurting all over. It doesn’t matter, mostly it’s good, and I’m so glad I’ve gotten back to it.

Hope you got this far reading this, especially you Facebook readers. If you did get this far, leave a comment.

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Alarming Border Deaths

I picked up the following press release from http://chicagoborderblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/alarming-border-deaths.html. It’s my hope that readers of this blog will read this information with an open mind and heart, as I believe these truths are not being considered in the debate about immigration.

Below is a press release from Tucson-based Coalición de Derechos Humanos regarding border deaths. The debate and political environment in the country rights now is heating up with much hate, anger and division. The reality that is all to often ignored is the reality of the border and what exactly we are doing there. In reality deaths are happening, people are living in militarized zones, and people are still coming. The pulls and pushes are too strong.

Alarming Border Death Count Continues Unabated and Ignored:
Arizona Recovered Remains Reach 153

Arizona— The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2009 has reached 153, reports the Tucson-based Coalición de Derechos Humanos. The data is comprised of medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties, and is an attempt to reflect more accurately the human cost of brutal U.S. border and immigration policies.

While the U.S. body politics is engaged in a one-sided discussion around “security” and “enforcement,” communities continue to witness tragedy and death on the U.S. – Mexico border. Rather than directly addressing this issue, politicians and most organizations have ignored it. Since 1995, when the first 14 deaths along the Arizona border occurred, Derechos Humanos has been a voice in the wilderness demanding justice. Fifteen years and more than 2,000 deaths later, there is no end in sight to the unnecessary carnage on the U.S.-México border.

The count to date includes ninety-eight (98) males, nineteen (19) females, and thirty-six (36) individuals of unknown gender. The identities of approximately one hundred seven (107) of the recovered individuals remain unknown, which is approximately 69.9% of the total recovered thus far this fiscal year. This number is a 22.4% increase from last year, when the total of recovered remains as of June 30, 2009 was one hundred twenty-five (125). Approximately thirty-six (36), or 23.5% of the remains were skeletal.

‘Unknown gender’ indicates that not enough of a body was recovered to determine gender, and without DNA, which is costly, it is impossible to know even this basic information about the individual, making identification and return to their families even more difficult. The dramatic increase in these unknown gender cases are a troubling indicator of what might be to come as people are pushed out into more and more isolated areas, making rescue and detection less likely and death more certain. It is unknown how many remains are currently near the border but have not yet been discovered.

The continued increase in the recovery of skeletal remains indicates that more and more individuals are being funneled into more isolated and desolate terrain of the Arizona-Sonora border. This “Funnel Effect,” which has been documented by the Binational Migration Institute, has shown that the practice of sealing traditional crossing points ultimately pushes migration into the deadliest areas. The extent of this crisis is not known as the numbers of human remains recovered in neighboring states are not available.

We call on this Administration and this Congress to respond to their first responsibility as human beings, and call for an end to policies that violate basic human rights and dignity. It is time for a meaningful and honest dialogue on migration and our responsibilities, with most critical question: Will the deaths continue?

While these deaths and the policies that fuel them are unconscionable, we are deeply saddened to see the calluses that have grown on the hearts of those that continue to ignore such suffering. We must remember that we are all human beings, brothers and sisters who must share the earth, and the death and abuse of the least of us will eventually hurt us all.

The complete list of recovered remains is available on the Coalición de Derechos Humanos website: http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net. This information is available to anyone who requests it from us and is used by our organization to further raise awareness of the human rights crisis we are facing on our borders


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Feeling Good

I had a massage this morning, and it really felt good. I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t sleep straight through tonight. I can hope, anyway. Eileen and I went out for lunch this afternoon, and then we stopped at the Body Works, a local fitness center. After getting the information we wanted, and checking out the schedule and facilities, we both decided to get a three month membership. Starting tomorrow, we’ll be going to water aerobics three times a week. This is the only exercise I can really do and I badly need it.  There are other benefits to a membership – weight machines, aerobic machines, which I probably won’t utilize, at least at first, but also a hair salon and massage therapy for a bit less than I paid this morning.  I also picked up some art supplies. I have an idea for a series of abstracts that I want to try out. I want to do them in encaustic, but as long as I’m up here, will see how I can do with acrylic.

Tomorrow after we go to the pool, we are treating Nancy to lunch at a neat little place in Taylor or Snowflake. It’s a little tea room, although I understand they just moved into a larger place. I hope they’ve maintained the ambience.  They make a delicious quiche, and we really enjoyed going there last year.

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