Cave Creek Junction

Birdlike blooms quivering
     in the desert dusk,

as hordes of lizards crawl
    over pallid sands.

The women rack-up another set,
      joking, goofing off and waiting…

The cowboys,
     donning rhinestone studded shirts,
     and big hats – hitch the horses outside.

Another Friday night at
     the Horny Toad Bar and Grill…

With a wink and a nod to the real deal in
 Cave Creek AZ and using the 12 wordle-words in Sunday Whirl #20.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

The Labyrinth pathway in the woods at
Lummi Island Congregational Church – United Church of Christ

What is my LUCKY NUMBER?

2005

“Why?” you ask.

TODAY my blog passed the 2000-mark for number of visits!

A big THANK YOU to my visitors and especially my subscribers!

I never imagined I would have so much traffic in just 2 years, and most of it THIS year.

Back to Ourselves: Autumn’s Invitation to Turn Inward | Maria Shriver

Here is an insightful piece about the gifts Autumn can bring.  You will enjoy it – just click on the link below!

Back to Ourselves: Autumn’s Invitation to Turn Inward | Maria Shriver.

Keepin’ the Blues Alive!

Fervent fans trickle onto the grassy grounds
after unloading lawn chairs and coolers from the trunk.
Joe the proprietor is eyeing the crowd –
fingers crossed for a turnout and a profit.

Cloaking the perimeter, a cacophony of tie-dyed sheeting
stretched ’round and fused with that throbbin’ Bo Didley beat…
guarantees passers-by will be obliged to pay the fee
if they want to see the sounds that tease.

Hour after hour, band after band takes a turn on-stage,
Groaning, twanging, belting, tinkling, rasping and cranking out
Nothin’ but the blues.

As the set finishes, human ants shoulder
massive loads of gear to and fro, through the throng –
Guitars, amps, basses, washboards, saxes and keyboards.
Transitions and the sound checks mess with the programming,

But it’s all cool…

Ok and now it’s The Chainsaw Blues.
I am telling you the truth:
The guy has a saw revved-up AND
is playing it!

SPF70 residue, caked with sprinkles of dust,
now decorates my feet.
We are grateful as the welcome breeze sweeps through
the hurts-your-eyes-brilliant-blue skies
and cools our sun kissed skins.
Sweat and sunscreen running down my arm
have smudged my “I
the Blues!” entry stamp.
I’ve drained the vessel holding my ice-tea.
No matter, it’s time to enjoy an ice-cold beer.

And the turnout: twirling, ruffle-skirted little ones,
Climbing, running urchins, smoking teens, pencil-thin pubescent girls,
Pot-bellied, bopping grey hip-cats, young Moms and babes,
And even Grannies. Every flavor of age, size, hue, and OH… the attire!
Dancin’, tappin’, clappin’, rockin’ and keepin’ the blues alive.

Inspired while attending the 2nd Annual Lummi Island Blues Festival,
And using the 12 words in Sunday Whirl #19.

Summer of LOVE … An Ode to a DOG DAY of Summer

It’s not Raining, the Sun is out – the Dog is an old one;
He doesn’t know he’s old or sick.
Bradley is my Grand-Dog and
He is waiting for me to awaken and sip some coffee.

We cuddle and I enjoy my caffeine.
And now it’s time! Bradley-The-Wonder-Dog
Can tell – it’s Time For A W-A-L-K!
It doesn’t need to be said, or even spelled.
The cadence of our morning routine has evolved into a
Comfortable groove; full of certain expectations.

There are signs most days…
That preparations are underway,
And are not moving along quite fast enough:

A half empty coffee mug set down,
Shoes and socks now retrieved and going on,
Finding my jacket, sunglasses, cell phone, his leash,
And finally the smoothing and folding of 3 “poop bags”…

The poop bags sliding into my pocket trigger a resonating bark,
Such a look of love and appreciation, much tail wagging, and
Finally sitting still and silent, for the leash snapping onto his collar.

And we’re off!
Bradley takes his walk seriously; no tail wagging while in motion.
But he is stopping to pee every 20 feet, it seems,
And pooping after about a half-block.

Thank you, Karen!
I know you don’t mind.
A little bag of poop in the trash can
You left on the roadside.

Down to the Church. Ah yes!
A walk we’ve done before, but
Today, it is with my new eyes;
To see things as the Dog does?!

Why didn’t I bring my camera?
Would it capture the Awe?
I wonder…

Past the Church and Cemetery,
Down the Wooded pathway to the
Labyrinth’s natural cathedral
Of Treed walls
And Sky-blue dome.
Bradley stays with me this time,
As we wind along the way
To the Sacred Center.
6 Slugs on the pathway,
The Muddy Moss sinking and worn
With the steps of previous visitors,

And once we’re to the Center,
The old Dog grows impatient and
Signals: Time to Move On.
Now he leads past the picnic tables,
Past the Memorial Stone Bench and its lonely Pine,
And down the Hidden Steps.

Now onto the Stony Beach…
Rhythmic slapping of the Waves in tune with the
Swooshing, rustling of the Breeze –
Oh how Divine! And the
Navy Blue Sea (has it ever been this Color before?!)
With petite lacy White-Caps
(are those Diamonds sparkling out there too?)
And then looking up…
The tips of Lummi Mountain, and Mount Constitution,
Each smothered by Foggy grey Clouds.

We plod along the slippery Coastline;
I, being careful not to slip on the smooth wet Rocks, or the
Green-bright-fresh slimy Sea-Grass bordering the Water’s edge.
Dog, being not so careful.
For an old Dog, he’s nimble, much more than I am!
Leaping the white Driftwood Logs – no problem; and they smell
Very Interesting, observes the Dog.
Some so white and smooth,
Some so rough and home to chomping Bugs,
Soaking with Saltiness.
I wonder: what is the Story of their Journey here to this Shore?

We pass the “Private Beach” sign (Private? “Ha!” I think.)
Soon Brad does a U-turn and we head back.
So interested in the Smells is he and
Interested in the Driftwood Forts am I,
That we are surely past the Entrance-To-Our-Exit…
So another U-turn and yes, there it is:
The Secluded Opening, allowing our ascent to the
Island Bluff and the Church grounds.

Heading up the Stone filled steps and through the
Verdant tunnel of Branches, Leaves, Needles –
Is it always this Spectacular?

Climbing up and out,
Back along the civilized and mulched trail
(a blessing of thanks to the soul who did this –
Now I don’t get soggy shoes!)
Through the Church parking lot, past the cluster of mailboxes,
Down to the red-roofed green home
Nestled behind the splendid Roses, and
Down within sight of Legoe Bay and now
We are standing by its back water.

No Ducks and Ducklings today.
But the ever present lap-lappity-lap of the calm Waves in the Bay;
The trills, chirps, tweets and squawks of God-Knows-How-Many Birds.
Down past the waving flag for a
Quick count of the Reef Net fishing boats;
Are there 6 or 7? It’s tricky to tell from this angle.
Soon they will be hauling fish out there…

We make another U-turn.
We are heading towards home and,
It is time for another poop.
We are back to the Church grounds…

I hope they don’t mind!
A little bag of poop in their trash can?
No I’m sure they don’t.

Behind the Church, I notice Brad’s Ears are perked and
His Eyes are glued toward The Way to the Labyrinth.
Two Fawns scamper over to the Labyrinth sign and then
Head in for their Labyrinth Walk.

We’re back home now and,
The Grand Dog is Snoring on “our” gold chair;
A nice wide chair where we snuggled, and
I sipped my morning coffee just this morning.

The old Dog is not hungry.
He hasn’t eaten all day and,
It’s almost lunch-time. I urge him and,
Attempt to tempt him with his
Special prescription dog food;
He has no appetite.
I make myself a grilled cheese sandwich and slice an apple.
I carry my lunch and Bradley’s lunch out to our Sunny deck.
Now We eat. (Note: even dogs enjoy company at mealtime!)

We know, as the Day warms up,
There will be Time to lay on the Grass in our Flowery yard.
Brad will find the warmest and driest spot to start with;
Then when the Sun cooks his Bones, he’ll move to Shade,
Then look for a compromise between Sun and Shade,
Maybe Dappled? Maybe on the edge of Shade-Meets-Sunshine.
I will move my chair accordingly;
Then he will nuzzle up and gaze at me,
Reassuring himself that we can
Stay out as long as he wants.

Of course we can…

These are The Dog Days of Summer we share… Days of Love.
And the old dog shares an old Lesson, a Lesson worth repeating:
The Joy of Unconditional Love.
Maybe the closest we get to knowing Divine Love?
And the Lesson of Slowing Down to Smell the Whatever;
And that, although this Life’s Journey can be so Fleeting,
There is So Much to Enjoy and Appreciate Each Moment…

Baby Boomer Retires – Take 1

(Continued from Be Careful What You Ask For … )

I was numb with excitement.

I couldn’t believe our good fortune and the timing was FANTASTIC! I accepted the early retirement offer and all of a sudden, I only had a month to work! It was a fantastic financial package. I got about a year’s salary, plus all my retirement fund and they rolled it all over into my 401k, so it didn’t get taxed as income until I took retirement distributions. WOW! And health insurance, too! It was too good to be true!

But whoops! Guess what – it meant that – all of a sudden – no more nice juicy paychecks for me! I hadn’t really expected that!

The next few months were a blur. Somehow our lovely, house of our dreams sold quickly and for a good price. Of course the equity was not as much as we expected. And the move cost more than we expected.

My numbness and excitement were slowly evaporating – to be replaced with some sense of reality…

The “fixer-upper” was definitely all that and so much more! When we bought the house, we hadn’t expected to be LIVING IN IT while we did the very necessary renovations. The cottage cheese goop, the drywall mess and doing dishes in the bathtub were just a few of the challenges we faced. Of course the kitchen remodel cost more than we expected.

We had this fantasy that we could do almost everything ourselves. Russ and I could be like the couples on the HGTV renovation shows and turn this rat trap into a thing of great beauty – of course we could! We hadn’t expected that even though we were young to be retired, maybe we weren’t THAT young! By the time Russ had scraped the cottage cheese ceilings off in all the rooms, worked with his brother to do the drywall, ripped out the kitchen cabinets, floors and a few walls, and I had painted all the interior walls and ceilings 3 times, we both had to check ourselves in for months of physical rehab!

We ended up having the flooring done professionally and of course it cost more than we expected. We ran out of money and couldn’t tackle the bathrooms or the downstairs renovations. So those would be phased in over the next decade (yes we ARE now finished with the interior!) Siding and roofing still left to go…

By the first year’s end we started to notice was that we were running a bit short on money. Russ had some contract work which brought us some income, thank heavens. But we had pretty much run through the equity money like a couple drunken sailors during our remodel and even run up some construction credit card debt at the new Lowe’s. We didn’t expect to STILL have remodeling left to do and to be in debt and out of money. We didn’t expect our living expenses to be so high either! Even though we didn’t have car or house payments, and the cost of living here is much lower, it was obvious that we needed to do something. We were proud that we hadn’t tapped into our actual retirement savings – yet. Through it all, we still had this feeling of a being a couple of kids on a great adventure.

We got our 1st health insurance re-enrollment package for the next year. Oh, we hadn’t expected the cost of it to almost double!

We needed to spend less or get more money coming in. My cocky little attitude about retirement planning and saving was starting to shrivel up. My optimistic “glass half full” mentality was shifting to “half empty.” We needed a new game plan to fund our “Island Adventure.”

(To be continued)