Monday, March 30

Quote: A mountainous and unexplored region of her heart

"'Once you make friends with your fear, it's a cinch,' she said. And then she leaped into a mountainous and unexplored region of her heart."

-Monique Duval

Fireweed, by Brett Varney of British Columbia.

Saturday, March 28

Liquid Gold

Thursday was Carly's last night here and we went for a drive in the Saguaro National Park just west of town.

Here’s the view from Gates Pass:

The Red Hills:

Almost-blooming ocotillo:

The delightful Miss Carly:


More about these amazing saguaros:

Then we went to Govinda’s Restaurant in Tucson for a lovely vegan meal:


Tuesday, March 24

Luxury Dawg


Roxy may SEEM to be enjoying the lap of luxury, but upon closer inspection, you will notice the mild poutiness of her posture. She got tired of waiting for me to take her for a walk and decided to take a light nap -– but within view, in case I happen to change my mind at any moment.  Notice her tail, mid-thump, once she sees me pull out my camera. Gawd, I love this dawg!

Monday, March 23

Our "Arizona Room" on a warm March evening

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Before I moved to Arizona, I had never heard of a phenomenon called an "Arizona Room". Florida Rooms, why, yes, being from New Jersey, of COURSE I'd heard of Florida Rooms. But it would sound awfully silly to call the room in this photo -- essentially our summer living room, deep in the heart of Arizona -- a Florida Room?!

This room was another reason we fell in love with this house. Windows on 3 sides. A view and access to the pool and backyard. Cooler northern exposure (well, cool-ish, anyway). Access to the west courtyard and the sound of the fountain. Tres Arizona. What's not to love? Besides the fact that it's freezin' in this room in the high desert winter.

I wonder what they call this kind of room in, say, Texas?

Saturday, March 21

New landscaping lights in our backyard


Approximately 6:30 P.M.

Approx. 6:35 P.M.


Approx. 6:45 P.M.

We added 3 strings of white holiday lights around the trunk of our grapefruit tree -- still heavy with fruit and starting to fill with fragrant white citrus blossoms. For less than $18, including an outdoor extension cord, we got this magical effect! Now we are wondering what else we can light up out there! Hmmmm...

Wednesday, March 18

My horoscope for the week, a la Brezsny

Genius irreverent feisty poet-astrologer Rob Brezsny has this to say to me and my fellow Cancerians this week:

“A famous Youtube video shows a small crab perched on top of a giant jellyfish that's swimming in the ocean. Apparently this is a common phenomenon. The species known as the graceful rock crab not only grabs free rides on jellyfish, but also steals food from them as it does. This creature is your role model, Cancerian. See if you can develop a safe and symbiotic relationship (perhaps temporarily) with a big stinging blob. At the very least, wangle some benefit out of a clueless behemoth.”

Tuesday, March 17

Our sleeping ramada project


Inspiration struck us a couple of weeks ago when I came across the photo above in a magazine!  It occurred to us that we, too, want to sleep outside during the warmer months.

I googled “outdoor sleeping” and came up with these enchanting images:


As if the above images were not reason enough, if you are still wondering why on earth we would want to sleep outdoors, here are some more of our reasons…

Cruel irony = 95 degrees inside, 80 degrees outside.

In the summer at night, it is usually cooler outside than inside, as the house has heated up throughout the day, but the cooling night air has not yet infiltrated the house. Even with all the windows open and fans on.

Contrary to what I thought before we moved here, all of Arizona does not swelter 24/7 like Phoenix. Tucson is at 2400 feet above sea level, compared to Phoenix at 1100 feet. As a result, we are blessed with a pleasant temperature drop of 20 to 30 degrees at night.

We spent a mint on air conditioning last summer, even though we were valiant in avoiding turning it on as much as possible. So our brilliant brainstorm seems like the perfect solution. 

The bonus is that Ken loves to camp, and well, me, not so much. Had my fill of that in the Outdoor Ed program at Northland College in my undergrad days. So, this will give him a taste of camping, while I get to have access to all my very important creature comforts.

What, you ask, is a ramada?

ra-ma-da [ruh-mah-duh]

–noun (Southwestern U.S.)

1) An open shelter, often having a dome-shaped thatched roof, and installed especially on beaches and picnic grounds.

2) One of the words Spanish contributed to the English of the American Southwest is ramada, a term for an open shelter roofed with brush or branches, and by extension, an open porch or breezeway.

Ramada can also mean an arbor of twined branches; this sense illustrates the derivation of the word from Spanish rama, meaning "branch," hence ramada, "arbor, mass of branches." The suffix -ada in Spanish denotes "a place characterized by (something)."

Ramada might have remained a relatively obscure regional word were it not for its adoption in the name of a national chain of motels.

A ramada is essentially the southwest incarnation of a gazebo.

A ramada can be rustic:



Or elaborate:



Or luxurious:



Or cozy:


We’re going for cozy, something that will shelter a sensuous outdoor bed from the monsoon rains and mosquitoes, yet allow for the enjoyment of the cool night breezes and the eastern exposure – awakening to yummy desert sunrises! 

I’m thinking an outside layer of ivory Sunbrella waterproof fabric and an inside layer of mosquito netting. All panels grommetted, on double rods or curtain cable, similar to Melody Johnson’s grommetted living room curtains.


So this is where we want to put it – in our “east courtyard”, and this is what we are starting with:

Lester Street - Pre-Closing 03.08 019

The previous owners’ sweet raised beds will have to go.  As will the flagstone path to nowhere.  And the tree stump hidden under the grouping of terra cotta pots near the birdbath. And the irrigation system has proven brittle and expensively leak-prone. 

That has been taken care last weekend of by “Ken the Amazing".” He tore the whole system out and replaced it with new trunk lines, “spaghetti” lines and emitters. Ahhhh…  Looking forward to lower water bills this year!


And here is the cleanup in process. raised beds gone!



I added a couple of chairs to gussy up the space in the meantime:


We plan to site the ramada about where the terra cotta pots are.  This way, we won’t be blocking too much light from coming into the house in the cooler parts of the year.


  • The single window to the right of the chimney is the living room. 
  • The center bank of triple windows is Ken’s Den. 
  • The bank of triple windows to the far right, next to the bougainvillea, is our bedroom. 
  • The door is the far right of the photo goes into our master bath.

We took a break for a couple of weeks, then went back in and got rid of the flagstone, which we’ll re-use in the project later once the ramada is built. Here are the latest progress pics:




Monday, March 16

Jasmine & Lady Banks Rose


Ken and I bought two pink jasmine plants last weekend.  We planted one on a trellis just outside our bedroom window – dee-vine wafts!  We put the other one off the dining room deck to vine up the pole that supports the new decorative lighting strings we installed a few weeks ago.  We also bought a bunch of young Lady Banks climbing roses (and Carolina Jessamin and fuchsia bougainvillea) for the fence along the east courtyard. See above photo.

DSC_0024Pink Jasmine or Winter Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum)

I took these first two photos yesterday on the Sam Hughes Home Tour. The Sam Hughes Neighborhood is the next neighborhood over from ours to the southeast. It is chock full of way cool historic Tucson architectural gems and delicious landscaping.

The photo above shows a mature pink jasmine vine.  The one below, a mature Lady Banks rose or Tombstone Rose, so named because it loves the desert heat. Curiously enough, the largest rose in the world is a Lady Banks Rose located south of Tucson in Tombstone, Arizona, of all places.

DSC_0048 Lady Banks Rose or Tombstone Rose (Rosa banksiae)

It was fun to catch these photos and bring them home to Ken -- who was busy recovering from two days of re-doing our ENTIRE irrigation system by watching the NCAA coverage.  It gave us a glimpse of how our baby plants will look (and smell!) in a few years.  Ahhhhh….

Here’s one of my favorite Sam Hughes homes on the tour, for your viewing pleasure!


DSC_0060 Here’s a close-up -- don’t you love this sweet awning with the decorative wrought iron rods?DSC_0074
Entry courtyard

DSC_0065One of the two back courtyards. Actual lawns are a real rarity in Tucson -- that’s “Syn-Lawn” in this courtyard!

DSC_0063 Looking through to the pool courtyard.

DSC_0066 Pool courtyard. A little Lawrence of Arabia, anyone?

Monday, March 9

Preliminary Europe Itinerary!

Ken and I are planning a trip to Europe in September! We are thinking 25 days -- though how I'll survive without Miss Roxy Brown all that time remains to be seen! The longest trip I've taken without her was 9 days.

I am requesting input on not-to-be-missed places and suggestions on where/with whom to stay, and since I (ahem) have so many international blog readers now (soon to catch up with the international blogger phenom Lady Jane Moxey!), I thought you guys might have some great input!

Here's the preliminary plan:

9/11/09 - fly from Phoenix to Florence, Italy. See David.

9/12 to 9/13 - Take the train to the walled Tuscany city of Lucca, Italy.

9/14, 9/15, 9/16, 9/17 - CinqueTerra, the car-free cliffside towns on the Italian Riviera, getting there perhaps by fishing boat.

9/17, 9/18 - through Monaco & Nice, en route to Lyon, France. Spend the day and overnight with Ken's friend Francois at his home in Lyon.

9/19, 9/20, 9/21, 9/23 - Travel with Francois to his farm in Provence. Stay at Francois' family's retreat house in Mirabeau. Spend time in La Tour d'Aigues.

9/24, 9/25, 9/26, 9/27, 9/28 - Train to Breve. Spend time in central France with Ken's British friends Simon and Clare on their farm 'Evening Glow' in the Dogdogne.

9/28, 9/29 - Paris

9/29, 9/30 - London

10/1 to 10/4 - Ken will be in Dorset co-chairing the World Elder Gathering for The ManKind Project. I will have 5 days on my own. I am thinking Devon, or Wales, or Ireland (my heritage -- could find out from my aunt where to visit in terms of my geneology) or I have friends in Amsterdam -- any input on destinations or places to stay is invited, especially art quilting or textile arts-related!

10/5/09 - Meet up with each other and fly home out of London.

Saturday, March 7

Introducing "Quilt Qua", a new online quilting resource directory

Connie Colton of Quilt Qua, a new online quilt quilting directory, just invited me to join her blogroll. She's got lists and links to quilt shops, quilt bloggers, teachers, patterns, guilds, wholesale fabric -- and an online "Show and Tell" -- where I did post a few of my own quilts. So, fellow quilt bloggers, if you're not on her blogroll already, email Connie at to get on.