Sunday, October 12, 2014

Practice Poems

(A Bref Double, prompted by Writer's Digest, October 2014)

"Between Places"

She sits at the table, pen in hand
gazing at the rain-filled mountains.
It is an autumn afternoon. Pomegranates bloom
along the graveled road.

There are places disconnected
yet connected through memories of land,
space and taste of coffee
that lightens her weekly load.

It is not one she bears with a grudge
but rather a willingness
to lean forward, making room
for whatever the Fates forebode.

Although she lives in a city of sand,
coffee reminds her of another ocean road.

(An ekphrastic poem, prompted by a photo in Writer's Digest, October, 2104 and from viewing Anthony Bourdain's CNN show on The Bronx)

"The Bronx"

I see you on the floor
pushing your chest against the dirty tiles
as you raise up to face your enemy.
He slams his leather boot against your torn shirt.
You grimace, then smile at me.

A lanky feline,
I just happened to come out from behind the metal staircase
and find you fighting for your solitary life.
I wish I could give you one of my nine.

You fed me fish an hour ago,
but now it appears
I am alone on the streets again
as you sputter your last breath.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Magic, a 100 word story


It all started with a butterfly.  Melinda followed it into the forest and was grabbed by the dwarf who had conjured the butterfly's path.  Melinda awoke in the cave and was covered by leaves and flowers.  On the walls she saw drawings of her in her father's farmfield.  She had always felt she didn't belong on the farm with her older brothers. Now she sensed she was among her own kind.  At two feet tall at the age of twenty, something had been amiss.  But now, as she sat up and looked at the faces smiling at her, she understood.  This was home.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tiny Poems from Mt. Lemmon

On the porch at Mt. Lemmon,
I read poems and rock
back and forth
like the flowers
bending in the breeze.

Father, you are lifted
into the arms of
a lady in blue
who covers you
with clouds.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Three Keys to Greater Happiness

Three Keys to Greater Happiness 

Learning something new at any age is important and, thanks to my friend/colleague, Leslie Johnston, principal consultant/owner of What We Think, I learned how to set up a website for Do Happy Today at a cost of less than $75.00 (actually it was a little over $50.00).  So check out and enjoy.... 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Heirloom Farmers Market

The skies were building up to (maybe) another monsoon later today, but the morning offered freshened air from last night's storm, a few puddles and very enthusiastic vendors and patrons at the Heirloom Farmers Market opening at Rillito Downs.  Yum, yum, on veggies, pastries and Tamales from Tucson Tamale.

Musicians by the racetrack bleachers
Food truck patrons enjoying waffles and syrups.

Families strolling the grounds, and
Mark with our friend, Loren at the Heirloom entrance.
We'll be back soon!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

New Watercolor Painting

I bought this painting last Sunday at the Southern Az. Watercolor Guild's Gallery
Thank you to the Guild and the artist,
Diana H. Davis, for being a brightspot in my day. It now hangs in our doorway for all to enjoy.

Local Eating during Independent's Week

This week LocalFirstAZ is celebrating independents (get it: for Independence Day) and one of our favorite ways to comply is by eating local.  We actually eat local most of the time when we go out, but this week, we are focusing on dining at local restaurants and/or food trucks..

Friday, we had dinner at La Hacienda

Saturday, for lunch with my 95 year old dad, we were at Lucky Wishbone for chicken and shrimp .

To lighten our load, at an early Saturday dinner, we stopped by the reopened Rincon Market and enjoyed their salad bar.  NOTE:  Their grand opening is all day 6/30



Sunday, we are eating in, and Monday we will be doing a picnic on Mt. Lemmon and stopping my the cookie place in Winterhaven.  Who knows what Tuesday will bring, but Wednesday we will be at the localfirst mixer at Alfonso Oil Company on N. Oracle, chomping on bread, cheese and olive oil.  My guess is that local wine will also be available .  Through localfirst you can also get a $5.00 off summer discount card at many local businesses, including restaurants.

Tucson has no shortage of great local places to eat, including the Food Truck Round-Up and the Food Truck Rally. 

 So, please consider, eating local, especially during the summer!  And check out the upcoming event at

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tucson Local Food Fair and Farmer's Market at Rillito Park: Another BrightSpot

With this warm Spring, we lucked out and experienced a "below normal temps" Sunday.  Perfect for an outing to the first ever Local Food Fair, and, for us, a visit to the Farmer's Market regularly held at Rillito Downs Park. One of the sponsors for the Food Fair was LocalFirst/Tucson.  The breeze turned into a wind when we were leaving, but it didn't blow away the smiles or appetites.  We enjoyed a lamb pita with dilly-green beans and chocolate baklava, prepared by the Sunnyside High School/JTED Culinary Program (sorry no photo--we ate it fast, before Mark could take a picture.)

We also sampled a chicken and rice entre from Snow Peas, a "Modern Asian Kitchen" that is new to us.  We will try it out for a full meal when we are on Tucson's east side.  Check out their menu at .

For "dessert" we each had the new pastry hit (modelled after the NY dossant), a part donut, part croissant (topped with maple bacon icing) from Prep and Pastry.  That's where I had my birthday tea and am still waiting for the owner to send me the detailed menu from it so I can post the menu with more of my birthday pictures.  Their pastry is in a photo below.  Check out their menu at .

The other photos are of the wonderful vegetables at the Farmer's Market.  We spent money and time and both booths featured below and got an earful of hydroponic gardening info from the enthusiastic student/gardeners from the UA. The garden is at the UA Campus Farm.



Monday, March 31, 2014

Japanese Friendship Garden

Because we are fortunate to have a friend who shares her condo with us on the occasional weekend, we are learning to enjoy the "brightspots" of Phoenix.  This is our second visit to the Japanese Friendship Garden , but the first time in the Spring.  The light was muted with clouds and so Mark's photos are sharp and clear.  Enjoy a small tree of cherry blossoms and the reflective pond, a bubbling stream and sculpted bushes, and (special surprise) a young family of five ducklings and their mom.



Monday, March 10, 2014

Preview of Prep and Pastry Birthday Tea

Due to a bad cold and family issues, it is taking me longer than expected to post the lovely photos of my marvelous 65th Birthday Tea at Prep and Pastry.  Here is one photo that Mark took of one of the four (for 7-8 of us) with myself semi-hidden and my friend, Eileen, in the picture.  I have an album to make of his photos and those two other guests/friends have shared so more will be coming.  The "Downtown Abbey" theme and game that I made up made it fun, the food was fabulous, teas amazing and gifts and love from friends made my heart overflow....

Queen Creek Olive Mill

While on a brief respite weekend and Phoenix, we took a long drive from our downtown location to the far East Valley, discovering groves of still standing (and just blossoming) orange groves.  Meandering through the past agricultural area and more recent urban sprawl development, we reached our destination (45 minutes later):  the Queen Creek Olive Mill.  It was worth the drive.
We took in the Olive Pressing 101 tour, led by a wonderful guide, Sandy (who looks better in her mid 60s than Olivia Newton-John does and had the same perky personality as "Sandy" in "Grease).  We tasted a variety of their products (and olives from the Olive Garden at the Greek Monastery in Florence) and had a great Panini and salad from their Restaurant. 

Here are pictures of the exterior Olive Grove/Picnic Area and the amazing interior/store with products not only from their gardens but other local growers.  The story of the Mill and other photos (plus directions which you will need) are at  We encourage you to check it out and, if the trip is too much for now, their products are also available in Tucson at La Encantada.  We bought their "classic" EVOO for ourselves and our Phoenix condo hostess and our Chef Aron Fonte.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New place in town: Prep and Pastry

Last week, my hubby/photographer and a visiting friend tried out a new place in center Tucson: Prep and Pastry .  The location is convenient and takes over the former Emilia Grey Tea House.  They changed the décor to urban chic and it reminded Mark and me of Thomas Keillor's place we reveled in a few years ago on our Napa trip:  Ad Hoc.

Prep and Pastry offer a savory weekend brunch menu and afternoon tea during the week along with breakfast and lunch that resembles the brunch menu.  Our server, Rose, was so upbeat about the menu and what she is learning about quality food. 

My only suggestion to them, at this point, is they need to add color to either the plating or the plates because the photos look a bit flat and don't do justice to the best scrambled eggs I have ever had.  They come from a Willcox egg farm and the crispy bacon (not pictured) recalled the taste and thickness of my Uncle Fleming's hog farm product he used to bring to my grandmother's on special visits.

I will be trying out their tea soon and will let you know how it goes as well.  I recommend giving this new "brightspot" in Tucson a try--the owners are really working hard at delivering some unique selections and, so far, I would say they are doing well.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

ladies in the line

The Ladies in the line: prompt words—threat, viewpoint, birdless, blimp, drive, singing, spit, float.

The ladies in the line were singing a happy tune in the south yard of Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage, near the gravel drive where the limo was waiting. From their viewpoint, the day could not be finer. This conclusion was enhanced by the spiked punch they sipped at lunch. Ignoring the signs that all was not right with the world (the midsummer sky was birdless and not a butterfly floated by the bushes), they continued to dance. Irritated by their joy, the gardener angrily spit his tobacco into the raked grass and threatened the universe with his tight fist. The Goodyear Blimp took a photo of the scene which was published on the inside page of LIFE magazine with the caption "Ladies frolic with the First Lady while the stockmarket hits a new low." (148 words)



Monday, January 27, 2014

Car Happy

Mark took this photo and captioned it so well I am just using it as ":

I am standing next to our new car, a Subaru Impreza Sport Limited, with Beau Overfelt, our fantastic salesperson from Tucson Subaru.  This decision was an unplanned event.  But when the 16 year old Camry Mark had been using from his dad needed more repairs than it was worth, and, we determined over the next few days, we were not yet at the point of being a "one car family"--we started shopping.

We had been viewing Subarus on the road, reading about their safety record (very high), but hadn't driven any during our various car rental experiences.  So Beau took us out (very patiently and with good humor as well as detailed info) with three different models: the Impreza, the Crossfit and the Forester.  We thought we would want a bigger car, but we really liked the ride in the smaller model.  We went back another day (Beau was off) and Kevin took me out for a spin.  Mark did his homework on Costco leasing and so we went back for a loooong session with Beau, his manager, Terry, and Tim, the "financial guy."

It's been 13 years since our last (and successful Royal Isuzu) lease-purchase and our brain cells were popping with the new details and amazing technology in a new 2014 car.  Besides seven air bags and a transmission that is as smooth as silk, Mark is bursting with gear-head info.  I, however, will comment on the comfort (for my back) of the seats, super sound system and fantastic visibility, including a rear-view camera.

But, we would have turned around on the first day in the first five minutes if Beau hadn't approached us with a smile and wry sense of humor.  He never pressured us into a decision, but answered all of our skeptical questions and when he "didn't know", he checked it out with his manager.

We highly recommend this dealership (newly relocated on Oracle, just south of River) and ask for Beau or Kevin.

P.S. The dozen red roses I am holding in the photo are from Beau--that's a first in my history, i.e. a car agreement resulting in a bouquet.  Classy and kind:).

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Making Divinity

Making Divinity—A Illinois Holiday Memory (from Poets & Writer’s “The Time is Now” prompt:

Once Thanksgiving passed, my mom would start checking the weather reports on a daily basis.  She wasn’t worried about snowfall or frigid temperatures.  She was watching for the humidity levels, because, only when the humidity was low, could she make her Mistletoe Mart Divinity. 

Our church, First United Methodist in Elgin, had an annual event that women of the church contributed to with their baked goods and craft products.  Although mom was a very able sewer (she made delicate clothes for our Ginny, Jill and Shirley Temple dolls), she really glowed when she baked.  Not an enthusiastic meal cook, she put her love and attention into cookies (butterscotch blondies, Grandmother’s sugar cookies, ginger snaps, toffee squares), cakes (upside down pineapple, spice cake with caramel icing) and the occasional summer pie (rhubarb).  But divinity was her specialty and when she prepared for it and produced it, my sister and I learned to stay out of her way, yet be close at hand to help her quickly spoon out the delights and clean the beaters.

She would drop the spoonfuls on waxed paper, pressing alternate pecan halves or jarred cherries into the centers.  Sometimes she would make a batch with pecan pieces swirled inside the dollops of egg white, Karo and granulated sugar syrup.  I don’t recall my Grandmother Dice making this candy, so perhaps Mom inherited it from her grandmother.  In any case, she would make several batches of the candy for the church, storing them in metal tins after they had set.

Dad would help her bring the tins early to the church basement and, for as long as I could remember, the pieces were sold out to the other church women before the Mart opened to the community.  Mom would return from the event with empty tins and a full heart, all ready to start to work—again, as soon as the weather would permit—on holiday batches for her family and neighbors.

As Mom aged, it wasn’t until her mid-eighties that she would “move over” and begin to teach me how to make divinity.  The year before she died, we made it in her tiny assisted-living kitchen, and I had to choke back tears as we pushed the hardening texture around the milk-glass bowl.

For the first two years after she died, I did make—or try to make her recipe.  The first year, it took me three attempts and it wasn’t due to the weather.  Living in the desert, low humidity is almost a given.  No, it was the accuracy of the syrup’s temperature that did me in.  The second year, I again had multiple attempts and, unlike the first year of my succession, I could not get the weight of the dollops correct, even with my husband’s patient assistance.  And I found I no longer experienced joy in the process.  It felt more like a duty and one that I was not fulfilling very well.  So, I have let go of that tradition (for now), and felt happiness this holiday in making my version of Mom’s toffee squares.  They remain my son’s favorite holiday cookie and really, that’s what Mom’s legacy is about: making a recipe with joy and love, whipping those feelings into the batter, and passing it on to another generation.  The key ingredients are not in the recipe, or even the hands; they are in the heart. (Note: this is close to, but not exactly, my mom’s recipe—that’s a family secret for nowJ).



Thursday, January 9, 2014

First poem of the Year

from a prompt via Poets & Writers, The Time is Now, 1/9/2014

Winter Storm

I had just started to read “War and Peace.”

Borrowed from the public library,

its weight impressing my imagination,

parchments papers crinkling under my fingers.

When the storm came with wind and cold rain,

ice formed on the wires and hung from our gutters.

My mother warmed our beds with a cast iron skillet,

heated in the basement stove—the electricity in the kitchen,

And throughout the house was gone.

I bundled in blankets and sat in the basement,

oddly warmer than the rest of the house.

My grandmother gave us an oil-lamp so I could read at night.

Natasha swirled in her Russian house,

Blood dripped on the battlefield,

And I was in awe as ice formed daggers,                                                                                     

sharpening as the storm cut me from Illinois life,

binding me to Tolstoy’s turbulence.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Holiday and Happiness Bright Spots

This sculpture, made of horse shoes, stands in the sunlit shadows as you enter Hacienda Del Sol Resort.  We had a wonderful lunch on patio on New Year's Day and I even indulged in a mimosa!  The resort offers four star meals and also opens up to blues and jazz on the weekends, so check out their schedule (and online menu) for a happy way to begin 2014.

On New Year's Eve, we ate at the Olive Garden with my dad and that was a nice meal for him, satisfying his Italian taste buds.  But what wowed us was our first visit to was the authentic gelato(smooth, light and not served in the garish "super size" of Frost).  My dad swooned over the lemon cheese cake and Mark and I slowly savored the chocolate caramel sea salt (my choice) and Mexican Chocolate Coffee (his).  They cater and have a cute dessert cart to bring to your events.  Fresh gelato is made twice a week at the welcoming café in Williams Center.  Check them out at

Just to wrap things up for this New Year's Post, here's a graphic of happiness for you to enjoy.  According to the 2014 Calendar developed by Henry S. Miller, January is the month for hope and plans.  A friend of mine added "intentions" and I like that addition as well.  What about you?