A Sore Butt Equals a Happy Heart

My Oh my what a month March was!

Made it to 8,100 ft. elevation without walking. Full disclosure: The bike guide had to help me hoist the bike up for the photo as I was toast!

So, we’re just back from our second—yes, second— get-outta-Dodge excursion. Like animals escaping from a zoo, we bolted outside of the perimeter of our county when Covid vaccinations —including ours—were becoming more widespread. We braved flights in air not once, but twice; first to “Land of the Free” Florida and then to the Saguaro-dotted hills of Tuscon, Arizona. Masks were plentiful, some social distancing too, but for the most part it was business as usual for both states. Everything was open and common-sense practices in effect. It made me think once again how grateful I was NOT to be living under the draconian rules of places like California or New York.

How lovely it was to walk on the beach for a few days with freshly painted Pompeii Purple toe nails happy to splash in still chilly seawater. A drive up the coast to check out the quaint historic town of St. Augustine was also on our weekend agenda. Though it was windy and cold (I had not dressed appropriately for chilly weather) we managed to enjoy a leisurely lunch there and a tour of the Lightner museum as well as a quick stop at the historic St. Augustine lighthouse. Honestly, I could kick myself for dressing in shorts and not bringing a jacket; if I’d prepared properly we would have spent much more time strolling around and learning more about the oldest continuously-inhabited European-established settlement in the contiguous United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés–who would also become Florida’s first governor, this charming city was a mention by my daughter to consider for the next phase of our lives. At first blush upon arrival, we thought indeed it could be! However, after talking with an overly chatty local over a lunch of delicious fish sandwiches and a crisp Chardonnay, we thought better of it as 81 hurricanes have been recorded in St. Augustine since 1930!

A few weeks after our long weekend get-away to Florida we traveled to Arizona. March 2020 was supposed to be our fifth excellent bicycle vacation with Bicycle Adventures but of course that got summarily squashed due to a global pandemic. Hubby pushed the trip to October 2020 and that too was ceremoniously squashed because of issues with my son. Hubby insisted a third time would be the charm even as I kicked and “screamed” NO! to keeping the booking for March 2021. He needed the mental break in the worst way not to mention being loathe to losing the cycling deposit. As for moi? I had not trained for six continuous days of cycling (truth be told, I had not trained at all!) nor was my mildly depressed mindset interested in…well…frankly anything following all the drama of the past year. I was resigned to my pity-party state, which was, of course, exactly why Hubby, with a stern final voice, insisted “WE ARE GOING!”

So, here I am…just returned from six days in the bike saddle, touring miles upon many miles around the uniquely harsh but magnificent landscape of the Sonoran desert. My butt is mighty sore but my heart is happy and my spirits hopeful in spite of the many unknowns that lie ahead for us. Hours of bright, warm sunshine plus long challenging rides —to include a continual 4.25 hours of an uphill climb to 8,100 ft., up Tuscon’s beautiful Mt. Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest, will do that to body and soul.

This was, one of the rare times, that I said to Hubby: “Yes…you were right.”

There is (particularly for him) bliss in that.

p.s. I’ll share more photos of the week once I figure out why, all of the sudden, my iPhone images with HEIC extension are not allowed on WordPress. Harrumph.

Bicycle Adventures 2021


IMG_2303The sight catches my heart.
I close my eyes.
The tug is fierce, for just a moment.
don’t waste it!
A glimpse of intense blue surrounded by gently floating puffs of the whitest white.
For a moment, cotton candy comes to mind.
I put my hands up to the sky to frame it.
There it is!
I say to my love,
You see that patch right there?
That’s the Arizona sky.
Then I’m reminded in a flash…
I am not there.
My love folds his hand around mine and says,

I wrote this a couple of days ago. Rocket-man and I were enjoying an early morning walk with The Poodle. I was missing my Arizona sky and frankly carping about this and that now that I’m back home. Rocket-man listened without a critical bone, understanding that I’m still not quite right after months and months of stress.  And he listened to my repeated boasting of enjoyment over every Carefree morning walk (even when tears were involved) and every evening sunset, wine glass in hand.

But today, it’s another story. Arizona is not on my mind.

This morning is indeed a beautiful one. The sun is shining and it’s going to be another warm, thankfully rain-free, day. It’s crisp-cool outside as I force The Poodle on a four-mile walk at 6:30 in the morning. He was dead to the world on his well-worn bed and would have preferred to stay that way. Instead, I literally had to drag him to the door.

Once out, he was fine. In fact quite happy. But my heart wasn’t in to the steps before me, even with my Mood Booster Spotify™ play list streaming through my ear-buds. I was moping along, foggy-brained, almost at a snail’s pace when I realized what the problem was. I was longing for the ocean.

Hmmm. Where in the world did that come from?

Just days ago I was pining away for a glorious Arizona sunset and the sight of a silly saguaro.  I could almost smell desert sage and creosote as I talked about the Arizona sky.  But today, I want my ocean back. The one I lived two miles from for eight years. I barely missed a day running to the ocean during all those years. I’d tell anyone who would listen that I had to get my ocean fix for the day. Indeed, my favorite part of the day was crossing the gauntlet of sand and reaching the water. Then I’d take off on a run, toes tickled by the cold water for the entire run, blissfully zoning out to the rhythm of the waves and the occasional song of sea gulls. The ocean calms my mind like nothing else.


Rocket-man reminds me that I’ll see my ocean in October when we return to California for a bicycle vacation.  For a moment, I brighten up like a two-year old.  I’m excited to see old friends and ever so thankful that Rocket-man purposefully allowed, just for me, for two extra days so that I can once again put my toes in the ocean, blocks away from where we once lived.  IMG_0408

It doesn’t take long for my head to come around once again to the present.  Arizona….California.  Desert….ocean.  I’m torn.  I feel like an unfaithful lover. Which is it Missy? I say to myself. The ocean or the desert? Pick it and stick!

It’s one of those days….

The Day The Music Died…

IMG_2456The bells have stopped ringing at “Villa Paradiso.”

My mom and step-dad gave their home that name, Villa Paradiso, soon after it was built eighteen years ago and for good reason. It was their paradise.  Nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac in Carefree, Arizona, the 9,000 square-foot home is a gem in Santa Fe style, inside and out.  An eclectic mix of wind-chimes and bells from the famed Italian architect Paolo Soleri used to hang from trees or around the length of the long patio in the back yard. Even on a day with barely a whisper of wind you could hear the song of a bell or a wind chime. Now, the bells and chimes are gone. I’ve taken a couple, sis has too, and one went to a friend. I had also packed several of mom’s favorites to take to her new home but learned too late that they wouldn’t be approved according to the rules in her continuing care community.  I thought the bell I brought home to “middle earth” would soothe my soul.  So far it has not.  It doesn’t seem to belong here. It’s song is just not the same.   It belongs at Villa Paradiso. But the heart of that place is gone.

Tears. Bucketfuls of tears. And, as if to echo the sadness of what sis and I had to do, there was an unprecedented amount of rain in the area …gray skies, buckets and buckets of rain, and sadness.

The bells have stopped ringing.  It reminds of a line from Don McLean’s “American Pie” song:  “…but something touched me deep inside, the day the music died.

Yes….that’s exactly the thought that hit me early one morning.  Sis was still sleeping.  The sun had barely peeked-out over the eastern horizon. I had taken my cup of coffee….the first one of the morning… out onto the back patio of my mom’s Carefree home. I’d only had a couple of sips when it hit me like a ton of bricks. Silence. Even the birds were quiet!   The music of the Villa Paradiso was no more. The life has been sucked out of this house now that mom and Kurt are no longer in it.

Saying good-bye was going to be much harder than I had imagined. I had wanted to enjoy the last couple of days out in the yard, sitting on the back patio in the remaining blue patio chair, before the final arduous push of packing and moving mom and her most prized possessions out of the house. In fact, I had a list of things I wanted to do before closing the doors on Villa Paradiso. Unfortunately, as it turns out, I didn’t get to enjoy two of the most important things on my wish list. I did not make it back into the pool, under the never-ending blue Arizona sky, to enjoy a lazy hour of playing in the water, just above the dancing Kokopelli figures in cobalt blue tiles that grace the bottom of the pool. Nor was I able to watch another spectacular sunset from the roof-top of mom’s house. I did however, spend my last night with sis, closing in on midnight, in the sadly empty house, seated at the bar, wine glass in hand.

“Did you ever think that it would end this way?” asked sis as we clinked wine glasses in utter exhaustion and sadness.


Of course we knew that the dream would someday end. But, not this way. I never thought Villa Paradiso would end like this.

Reality bites sometimes. Absolutely nothing, stays the same. We all know that.  But still…..wouldn’t it have been lovely to make time stand still the day sis got married in mom’s garden to the love of her life?  Or the day my nephew had his first bite of solid food right at the bar in the large kitchen. Or even the hilarious sight of The Poodle finally getting into the pool, then back out again, his relief that he “survived” the whole ordeal spread wide across his poodle face. I’ll forever remember catching sight of a brilliant green flash…a falling star ….while standing on the back patio. Rocket-man and I were excited beyond belief over this ever-so-brief moment. We nearly stumbled over each other in giddy happiness trying to quickly make a wish over the falling star.

So many memories, all forever locked in head and heart. At least we have that sis…eh?

Sis and I didn’t have it in us to go room-to-room reminiscing about special times, or even the not-so-good times. We were simply too worn-out, emotionally and physically from four days of packing, unpacking and dealing with all that was entailed in situating mom in her new home.   Besides, I knew I’d break down again if I did. Sis and I had already shed quite a few tears. And even though I am now back home in “middle earth” mine aren’t done. I’d venture to say the same goes for my sis.

And mom?

Folks, she is in a fabulously beautiful place. A continuing care community that is the crème de la crème of Arizona. I’d want to live there!   Mom isn’t happy about any of it mind you….at least not yet. Sis and I are hopeful that mom finds her way out of more than six years of self-imposed darkness and tries to live her remaining years in her new home with a renewed sense of life and purpose. It is all in her hands.

As for me? I’m one emotionally spent soul. My mind is so fuzzy and my body so exhausted that I can barely function.  I feel like I am drowning in quicksand.

So, I’ll need a few days…maybe even weeks, to get back to the business of living.

Rocket-man is right on top of things though.  He signed us up for a 50-mile cycle ride event in the morning.  I’m honestly not feeling up to the challenge but Rocket-man insists its time to start having fun.

Aren’t I blessed?!

Chihuly Blue

A work from famed glass artist Chihuly

A work from famed glass artist Chihuly

I left the Carefree desert eleven days ago. After time in Northern Virginia visiting sis and family, I’ve now been home five days….physically anyway. I’ll admit to feeling quite off…maybe even a bit lost. I know it will take some time to get to a new normal here in Middle Earth. Already, my heart aches for the intense blue skies of Carefree and of course, I miss my evening ritual of a glass of white wine and viewing the spectacular sunset from my mother’s roof-top.

Yes, I’m feeling off…sort of like a Dale Chihuly glass work in stunning blues that I saw at the Desert Botanical Gardens during a rare outing with mom in Phoenix;  I’m a fragile, yet strong, jumble of emotions twirling in every direction.  Point in fact, I haven’t fully unpacked yet. For those who know me, that’s astounding. Aside from the mental fog that I continue to be in, there’s a good reason my suitcases still await emptying. When I left in March, winter clothes were still in drawers or hanging at the nearest reach in my closet. Now I’ve got to go through the process of re-arranging and shifting things around and, truthfully folks, I just don’t have it in me….not after three months of trying to de-clutter and prepare 9,000 square ft. of house for sale. As a side note, there is still lots to be done on the Carefree front, but it was imperative that this tired soul have a respite. Sis and family will spend a couple of weeks visiting mom and they’ll have a chance to continue the clearing process.

For now, I’m still stepping over piles of clothes and suitcases. Maybe by the weekend I’ll have things in their proper places….or…as I told Rocket-man, if I drag my feet long enough it will be autumn and time for all things long-sleeved again! He enjoyed a deep belly laugh over this plan…perhaps knowing that is so unlike me….or maybe because it’s brilliant?! Still even better, perhaps I’ll have half this pile of clothes in bags by the curb going to Goodwill.

Despite my heavy heart over the events of the last three months, I can smile at this homecoming. For one thing, a certain four-legged friend did not forget me!  Yes….the Poodle went wild with excitement when he laid eyes on me. He was in the car, along with Rocket-man of course, meeting me at Dulles International Airport when I flew into Northern Virginia. Poodle literally catapulted himself over the seat –something he has never done–trying to get to me. It warmed my heart for a thousand Sundays!  And Rocket-man? He hugged the dark fog out of me and promised I wouldn’t have to cook for a week. What more could a woman want after living three months on another planet?

It’s Working….

Smile more, complain less.

Yes…that was part of my intent when I decided to start a blog as evidenced in the name of this here locale on the World Wide Web.  It’s not been easy, I’ll admit. I’ve had a tendency through most of my life to see the glass as half-empty….viewing most of life, myself included, with a fair amount of distrust and negativity.  So when I moved to “middle-earth” and felt myself falling into an exceedingly dark abyss of negativity as a result of being dragged by Rocket-man from my ocean bliss to insect and humidity hell, I knew I had but two choices….(and no, it wasn’t necessarily to start throughly loving my new “sweet home”).  Be open to the new chapter or slam the door shut on life. I needed to force myself to start seeing the world through rosier colored glasses. I needed to force myself, if only for one moment at a time, to get out of my head and into my heart where I knew deep down, there just had to be something better than the cynicism, resentment, sadness and overall mistrust I was carrying around. That suitcase was getting mighty cumbersome to drag and I was tired of it all.

Perhaps writing something down would help?  I’d tried that many years before but my ex-husband had found my journal and naturally wasn’t happy with my words. I’d tried my best to explain that, in an effort to get through the mess that tore at my heart, I was just pouring stuff out on to paper. I also explained that often after such a dump…minutes, days or weeks later….I would look back on those very words and realize that most of it was nonsense of the heart …thoughts and feelings that came spewing out of me in a moment of complete frustration…or even, as sometimes happened, joy! Anyhow….my ex has been a thing of the past (nearly 17 years a thing of the past). There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t pinch myself over my Rocket-man; I’m ever-so-fortunate that Rocket-man is a guy who is thoroughly comfortable in his own skin. He’s the one who encouraged me to write whatever comes into my head….and so with that I began once again to journal….putting words down (though this time they fly into “the cloud”) with hopes that this practice helps me navigate through the new, healthier, chapter I wanted to set for myself.

I think, in my humbe opinion that is, it’s working. These past six weeks have forced me to take one breath at a time. There’s not been a day that has passed that hasn’t brought a challenge of seemingly monumental proportions. Things haven’t necessarily gotten better in the mother department. But one thing is for certain, I’m weathering it much better than I ever anticipated and I’m sure it’s because I’ve made the conscious decision to NOT (God love her) be like her and to be positive. It sounds like such a cliche, I know, but there it is. With each episode of negativity, meanness and manipulation, I am doing everything within my power to fight from falling into the same old patterns. I’m putting words to paper….I’m taking long, deep, slow breaths….I’m repeating sweet little mantras in my head….whatever it takes. I remind myself that Mom has been this way much of her life and though I’ve been carried down the rabbit hole so many times before it’s HISTORY and it won’t happen again because I have the power to not let it happen. Some stuff I have LET GO….some stuff I haven’t but I’m working on it and I’m finding humor in it all. Another cliche…”Laughter IS the best medicine!”

So….each day I’m throwing myself out to the universe–the Carefree universe. I’ve made it my mission to talk to someone new each day and share something…anything…just so that I make a connection for myself and for someone else. Most of these folks I’ll likely never see again but it matters not. I’m sailing through this difficult time with grace and I’m learning along the way. It could have been so much worse but….another cliche folks….”Attitude IS everything.”

So….while dropping off boxes to ship at the UPS store, I shared my Tarantula Hawk photo on my iPhone with three folks. We chatted for minutes about my find and shared laughs as well as oohs and aahs. I talked about my beautiful sis and her family and how I love the desert and the spectacular sunsets. And what fun I had meeting the young gal that I brought in to do the touch up paint work on all the areas where the roof leaked. It was a pleasure to chat with her while she did her work. I learned she had studied to be a nurse and was a year shy of graduation when she wanted to run off and explore the world. I learned she was a white-water raft guide on the Colorado River and she worked at the Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii as a brew-master. “Oh man,” I tell her….”My husband will go nuts that I met you…Kona’s Pipeline Porter is his favorite!” We also shared fits of laughter and fist pumps over getting a Cuisanart food processor to work.

I could go on.

Everyday I am finding bliss among the sadness and drama and with it I am finding that it is easier to smile more and complain less. Certainly the Carefree sunsets are helping me along the way….