11–13 of 13 entries from the month of: November 2013

Reading + Writing

November 6th

Fall reading


I haven’t done the best job in 2013 of cataloging all the books I’ve read. But, here are a few currently on my desk.

David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is hilarious and easy. I’m not adding a single new note to the choir. Sedaris is beloved.

I am enjoying it particularly so because the short stories are quick. I sit outside under a palm tree during my lunch break, savoring cold leftovers and often covering my mouth because I am laughing so hard. 4 out of 5 bananas

Otherwise, the F in Exams book was a silly and appreciated birthday gift. It is on my office table as a conversation piece. And Stitched Gifts is providing ample ideas for the holidays — of which I have decided will be mainly embroidered and sewn.*

In the last few months, I’ve also read:

The Emperor of All Maladies: a non-fiction look into cancer. This Pulitzer winner reads like a textbook, and is obviously applauded. I found it too heavy, especially during October when my news feed was, for the first time, full of graphic breast cancer photography. I struggled with this book, swallowing my own fears with each page. 3 out of 5 bananas

Chris Bohjalian’s The Light in the Ruins was an easy, read. It wasn’t nearly as well crafted as Midwives, but I enjoyed it all the same. Set in World War II Italy, I learned much about renaissance Italian art, rural Italian living, and Italy’s divided heart during the great war. 3 out of 5 bananas

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson was a delightful read. While my book club did not agree with me on this one, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a different take on time travel — what would happen if you could start your life over, and over, and over again. And what if that life could go back to change Hitler’s and prevent World War II. 4 out of 5 bananas.

I’m currently reading Running the Rift — and loving it. Set in Rwanda, it is the fictional story of a track and field great who is trying to survive the genocide and compete for his country in the Olympics. I’m also reading my first issue of Taproot, which is simply divine. It is a great mix of country living writing, photography, crafts, recipes and simplicity. Five out of five bananas, absoloodle. 

On writing: Workshop


Still on those last 5 chapters to finish draft 1, novel 2. I feel like I’m at mile 20 of a marathon and would rather just sit down for a bit. Or get a ride home.

There is carousel of emotional baggage that comes with being this close to the end of such a project, having faced the praise and critics once before. I need to slap on some bravery and get after it, already. (If you hate it, you hate it. I do think it is a pretty good story.)


* Oh, the holiday planning. I’m annoying my friends with Thanksgiving recipe lists — we are helping our friend Trond host. And Christmas! The gifts and the planning and the cards and the bunting and the tiny white lights to be strung from the patios! Truly, my very favorite time of year.


Posted in
Book Club, Media, Writing
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One Community: November

November 5th

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives.

The Rules:  Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up.  Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them.

This month’s words, selected by Colleen, are: gratitude, fun, blue and home.

Gratitude: One Community: November

I am thankful to have a partner who was willing to pick up and move back across the country, just a few months after having gone through the same topsy turvy ordeal. It hasn’t been the best few months since arriving in the Grand Canyon State.  But here we are, in my state. My hometown. With my work blossoming. It takes a kind, patient soul to be willing to even try this. I’m lucky he is by my side.

And Arizona, you really are home. The culture — from fast, idiot drivers that make me feel like I’ve found my chosen people — to salsa, coming on the side with just about any meal, to our “chilly” 70 degree days: I love you.


One Community: November

These didn’t seem like costumes, even though there was a rodeo taking place nearby. These women had dirt on their boots, and creases around their eyes from many days spent outside. They are western beauties. (And yes, that is a gun on her hip. Welcome to the wild west.)


One Community: November

Handpainted Mexican tile wall. Frida would approve.


One Community: November

One Community: November

One Community: November

The last guy is “The Arizona Duuuude: Arizona’s #1 Fan.” He gave me a card, and is available for parties. You’re welcome.


{Forgive me for being technologically behind, but I can’t get the link up language to work on my site. If you care to play, please visit my tech savvy friend, Sarah, for details.!}


Posted in
Arizona, Community, Photography
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November 1st

Pinetop weekend

This week I attended a conference about homelessness in Arizona. The statistics are arguable, depending on the source, but the reality is our state faces a huge, transient wave of folks in need this time of year. They come from colder areas because one can survive outside in Phoenix, even if it is an incredibly hard existence.

The majority of these folks are men. Many are veterans. Many have substance abuse or serious mental illness or both. Many have been arrested at some point for a crime of survivial — loitering, camping within city limits, food theft.

Pinetop weekend

There are groups state-wide working to help ease the physical and health needs of the homeless. Some provide a temporary shelter, while others do outreach deep into the woods of our state and national parks, looking for those who have removed themselves to the furthest edges of society.

There is a group in northern Arizona that does some pretty amazing work with homeless folks in Coconino and Yavapi counties. They drive and hike and trek with a “sixth sense” into the woods, looking for those who may need water. Or food. Or maybe even just a little company. With time, they are often able to coax these folks into behavioral health programs and care. Last year, they were able to find permanent housing options for more than 70, again — many of whom are veterans.

Pinetop weekend

Those who are in the Verde Valley area may swing by The Loft; a safe place for a shower, laundry, a warm meal, a change of clothes and even some time online, if they care to check in with friends and family. One area of great need for The Loft are hygiene kits. These are distributed to those who come in, and for those who remain living outside – in the forest or otherwise. The kit doesn’t have to include much, but can provide considerable relief and comfort to someone without a home.

This is where I need your help. Would you join me in making a kit or two? You could sew a fabric pouch, or place it in a Ziplock. You could add a note of encouragement, or make it anonymous. You could give these in lieu of holiday gifts, or in addition. You, and me, and anyone else willing to help out and pitch in about $10 could make a serious difference for those living on the edge.

We aren’t going to solve homelessness by putting together these bags, but we will provide a bit of joy and kindness. That’s enough.

A kit may have:

      • a pair of socks
      • chapstick
      • sunscreen
      • toothbrush
      • toothpaste

Anything else you’d like to include would be wonderful. We are making a commitment to this project as a family and will deliver the supplies to northern Arizona and to veteran homeless outreach in the metro area, during the holidays.

I know I’ve asked you before for this type of help, and you’ve responded so generously. Together, we can provide a bit of kindness and comfort to those in need. With the winter months approaching, those needs are greater than ever. Leave a comment if you are in, and we’ll chat. And thank you!


Posted in
Arizona, Community
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