Tuesday, May 26



The dirty job for the weekend was moving five big piles of brush to the curb for pickup. Phew – it “only” took 3 or 4 hours! Feels great to get it done! I should have made Ken stand in this photo so you could get a better idea of the scale! This pile is about 5 feet tall and 8 or 10 feet deep.

If the neighborhood were giving out an award, we would for sure win it! 



Monday, May 25

Ira Glass on creativity and being a beginner

Quote: Full responsibility

"It takes a BIG person to accept full responsibility for their own happiness.

It takes an even BIGGER person to accept full responsibility for their own unhappiness.

But it takes a spiritual GIANT, who upon realizing any degree of unhappiness, decides to be the change they seek - in spite of having to endure the ‘same old, same old’ that may still linger on for awhile."

-Mike Dooley


“Jornada Storm” by Kirby Benson

Thursday, May 21

What’s this wet stuff?



After a 12-day string of unseasonably hot 100-plus-degree days, plus at least 3 months without a drop of rain, we awoke the morning to the fresh, sweet, earthy smell of water falling softly. Mmmmmm…..  By 8:30 a.m., I actually had to slip on a light polarfleece pullover – what a strange sensation to have clothes on my arms.

It’s 11:00 a.m. now and only 67 degrees. “Only”.

Now, the pace has picked up and our paltry gutters can’t keep up.


A lovely sound, big drops plopping on the pool deck and the glass of the patio table. And the sound of water hitting water as the rain plops into the pool.  We will have two days of rain and then probably not a drop until the Arizona monsoon season arrives in early July.

Wednesday, May 20

Pillow fetish!


I think I finally have to admit that I have a pillow fetish.  Perhaps one might go so far as to say it’s as serious as an outright addiction. At least I think Ken would agree.


All I know is that when I finished these pillows for the new double lounge chair that we scored on Craig’s List last week – did I mention we got it for $100!??!--- that I had no sooner finished the closure on the last pillow before I was getting my shoes on to make my first trip to SAS Fabric by the Pound.

As if I need more pillows… I mean, here’s the daybed in the Arizona Room:


My theory is that pillows make life softer. More pillows = more softness. Here’s the 14-pound pile of scrumptious summer fabrics from my trip to SAS:


I see that I am being drawn to stripes lately!! And seersucker and windowpane plaids! Yum!!

Anyone know a good cheap source for down pillow forms?!

Planting the West Courtyard


Friday was the big exciting day to go to the nursery with Marla and get the majority of the plants for the west courtyard transformation. Look at Peachie (our Toyota Highlander) piled full with delicious abundance!!

Here’s Marla “spotting” the pots.  That’s landscaper-speak for “this-is-where-the-plants-should-go”:DSC_0095

Ken and I then spent all day Saturday planting! And I finished painting the wall. Fun!!!!


After (click to enlarge):DSC_0101

Here’s the view from the other side:view to south

And what it USED to look like:DSC_0074

Tuesday, May 19

Sculpture Installation


Our friend Marla, artistic landscape designer extraordinaire, also happens to be a talented metalworks designer. She designed this stunning sculpture for the blank wall in our west-courtyard-in-progress.  It was way fun to see it installed yesterday!  It really adds a stunning focal point in addition to the fountain. Here, the before and after:



Also, can you believe this great double-wide chaise lounge we scored for $100 on Craig’s List!?  I got a bunch of upholstery fabric for $3 a yard at Home Fabrics and a pile of pillow forms – guess what I’m up to this afternoon!?

Fabric for Pillows

Oh, and here’s a shot from the side so you can see how three-dimensional it is! 


Now we get to figure out how to light it at night! Yum!

Monday, May 18

Quote: Under their influence…

"A soul connection is a resonance between two people who respond to the essential beauty of each other's individual natures, behind their facades, and who connect on this deeper level. 

This kind of mutual recognition provides the catalyst for a potent alchemy.  It is a sacred alliance whose purpose is to help both partners discover and realize their deepest potentials. 

While a heart connection lets us appreciate those we love just as they are, a soul connection opens up a further dimension -- seeing and loving them for who they could be, and for who we could become under their influence. 

This means recognizing that we both have an important part to play in helping each other become more fully who we are....A soul connection not only inspires us to expand, but also forces us to confront whatever stands in the way of that expansion."

-John Welwood

2Hearts“Two Hearts” by Melissa A. Robinson 

Monday, May 11

Quote: Aliveness-wattage regulator

"Why do we sometimes feel more alive and at other times, less alive? Are we REALLY more/less alive? Or are we somehow regulating our own wattage?"

-Frank Gjata

BrettArt by Brett Varney

Sunday, May 10

Progress on the West Courtyard

Here is the courtyard on the west side of the house.  It is accessed through the French doors in the Dining Room, and also from the Arizona Room. The previous owners had made a sweet little fountain corner where the deck drops off, shown here:


Despite Ken’s shrewd and legendary negotiation skills, we could not convince the sellers to see the value of leaving the fountain for us!

Inspired anyway, we went fountain shopping even before the closing on the house. Then, BONUS! Ken’s family pitched in to give us this great new corner fountain as a housewarming gift! Then our friend Carl moved back to Oregon and donated quite a few tubs of plants from his condo terrace.

This is what our west courtyard has looked like for about a year:


Charming, eh?  I didn’t think so either.  Then, one morning about 6 weeks ago, looking out the kitchen window at this view while washing dishes, I said, “Enough! We have this potentially great space that could be a real outdoor room that we could use everyday and it’s been completely dormant since we bought this house a year ago. Let’s make this project a higher priority and get to work on it!”

We’d already gotten a good, albeit piecemeal, start on it, but we were ready to give it our full attention until it was done.

Last Spring, we removed (bucket by bucket) all the hundreds of little stones -- the last owners’ aesthetic preference. Why did we do this, I mean stones do really well in the desert heat!  Because, well, we’re crazy gardeners from climes afar and we feel you can never have too much area available for plants, right!?

Also, last summer, Ken re-laid the flagstone path that leads off the deck and around the Arizona Room to the backyard. It had been laid directly on the dirt and the flagstone kept breaking when you walked on it.  So he brought in some sand for a nice soft foundation and refurbished the whole path – nice!! Also, in the fall, we had a large dead sycamore tree removed that was right in the middle of the courtyard.

And a couple of months ago, we had some yummy ambience lighting installed a that I posted about here.


We knew the deck needed re-finishing, so we finished that job a few weeks ago, which you can read about in this post. The Arizona sun had a field day with that maroon paint job the previous owners had done:


We sanded off the remnants of the paint (7 hours!) and then applied a timber oil stain:


Talking with our friend Marla Ruane, artistic Landscape Designer extraordinaire, she suggested covering the two walls on either side of the fountain with some artful metal trellises which she would design.


She also suggested painting the wall a brilliant deep indigo blue, similar to what she did here for a client of hers in this photo. While we weren’t up for the blue, (it IS gorgeous, isn’t it!), we DID like the idea of painting the wall and also the idea of the trellises. So we tried a few colors in the terra cotta family:


The one on the far right won -- Valspar’s “Hubbell House Rio Grande Mud”. What a name! It looks like the stucco wall will use 2 full gallons to do 1 short and 1 long accent wall. Slow going, as the texture of the wall is so deep. I think we’re up to 9 hours.

Next, we brought in some landscaping rocks – glacial rock for the borders and feather rock for the large accent boulders at the base of the tree. And a truckload of planting mix. And some flagstone re-purposed from the original layout. This part went surprisingly fast. Here’s what we have so far:



This Friday is plant shopping day and Marla will be our host and guide! We’ll be bringing home a boatload of plants!


She has suggested Liriope spicata, aka lilyturf, to fill in this bed – we love this idea!  It’s a dark green ornamental grass that is technically a member of the lily family. The blooms look like small purple (or pink) hyacinth. It can be invasive, so I am not totally sold yet, but maybe it acts differently in the desert.

After that will be the trellis installation, and then furnishing the deck – I have been trolling Craig’s List daily for weeks now for a great find!.We’ve had great luck with Craig’s List so far, so I remain optimistic!

Then, we’ll attack the area on the other side of the deck. This morning, Ken gave us a good push towards completion on this area by pruning the dwarf lemon tree, raking, weeding, and hauling in some border rocks and planting mix.

Phew! All in a day’s work for that man! I sooo appreciate him!! And all before noon! Of course, he WAS up at 5:00 AM!

Here are two “Before and During” shots.

Looking south, before:DSC_0067

Looking south, progress pic:DSC_0077

Looking north, before:DSC_0079

Looking north, “during”:DSC_0076

This area is now ready for plants and new irrigation lines! But not today. Time for a margarita, a pizza and a movie rental – Slumdog Millionaire!

Tuesday, May 5

Simple abundance

Here’s my view as I sit at my laptop – looking out of the Arizona Room into our walled backyard hideaway…


Monday, May 4

The Arizona Inn


Eight blocks from our house is a hidden gem, the historic Arizona Inn. Stepping into its’ 14 acres of lush oasis in the middle of central Tucson is like stepping back into time. You almost expect to see Humphrey Bogart leaning against the bar in the main dining room smoking a cigarette and casting sideways glances at the beautiful woman at the piano.

Built in 1930 in the philanthropic spirit of the New Deal by Isabella Greenway, Arizona’s first Congresswoman and close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Still owned and operated by the Greenway family, it is our favorite splurge for Sunday brunch poolside, dahling. I always feel like I should be wearing tennis togs and a tight pony tail.

I stopped by there yesterday morning with camera in hand to photograph the sunshine-y yellow luxurious patio cushions. I am having cushions made for our two chaises and for the patio chairs. Our home was built in the same era (1933), and our patio furniture looks very much like theirs, so we are going for “the Arizona Inn “look” for our own patio cushions. I wanted to make sure I got them right!



I snapped a few other photos for your viewing pleasure as well!






Quote: Expanding my peripheral vision

"Fear is a physiological and psychological state that literally narrows vision and limits creativity. It narrows your peripheral vision to a tiny percentage of the available input and toggles your options back and forth between two options: fight or flight. Fear makes you stupid. It compartmentalizes every IQ point you have into tiny loops of worst-case scenarios.

Hope and love, on the other hand, expand peripheral vision and network to connections and possibilities only obvious to a relaxed eye."

-Annette Simmons


“Field, Summer” by Susan Abbott

Sunday, May 3

Mexican Bird of Paradise – now open for business!

My latest love: the striking Mexican Bird of Paradise, (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), aka “flamboyan de jardin”. No kidding! We have a large specimen in our front yard along the adobe wall pictured below, as well as a smaller one in the east courtyard. 

This inflourescent beauty is planted freely along the medians and main roads and maintained by the city of Tucson – what a gift! It’s one of the more popular heat-loving plants in many, many yards. When mature, the shrub can get 10 feet tall and wide. Flamboyant!



This photo gives you an idea of how large the individual flowers are: