If I was still writing my CyberScribbles column, this is where I would post this bit of information. Since I am not writing CyberScribbles any longer, I want to mention that I received a dollar bill with the “wheresgeorge.com” stamp on it. When anyone sees that stamp, it is their invitation to go to that website and register your bill’s serial number. Then you can see a few (or many) of the places it’s been.
Mine drifted down to Arizona from Alaska. That’s pretty far.
The URL of the page with my find is:

Sometime when I was still writing the CyberScribbles column for the Beacher, I mentioned the bill tracker website. Now I have experienced it firsthand. It was fun!

I’ve spent the afternoon reading Noah Adams’ memoir about achieving  his wish in his 50’s to play the piano. I had my favorite Hoagy Carmichael c.d. playing and I became nostalgic for those simpler days in Bloomington as a student, haunting the coffee shop across from the IU Law School where Hoagy was said to compose “Stardust.”

Hoagy Carmichael Statue

Hoagy Carmichael Statue (Photo credit: StevenW.)

IU pays tribute to Hoagy with a small museum, one that I visited and wrote about for The Beacher at least a dozen years ago [it seems] and bought the c.d. I listened to earlier.  And another Hoosier, Cole Porter, just shows how much class our state of Indiana has!

As I looked out my window, inky, blue-black, angry-looking clouds hover over the northern horizon, coming from Flagstaff. We are to get snow by Saturday, my neighbor said.

I miss Bloomington, and I miss the midwest. Maybe the snow will make me feel more like home. I don’t miss Chicago–I don’t miss their machine politics, their new mayor,  nor do I miss the jackhammer racket that I heard while waiting for our architectural tour boat to head upstream along the Chicago River.

I looked at a class B rv this morning. The price was certainly right, but the poor thing is 40 years old. I want something that I can use here in Arizona as well as a second home and transportation back to the midwest for visiting relatives and the beach I dearly love. When I was back in Indiana in September, my friend Miff let me know that she traded her old van camper for a newer Road Trek. Miff put plenty of miles on her former van, and I rode along on a trip or two and even helped drive it, easily. Miff has put plenty of miles on her life to date. She is twice as old and then some as the class B I looked at this morning. Wish I knew she was getting a new one–I might have bought the one she traded in. She stayed in it here at Dead Horse Ranch State Park several years ago. Her cat wandered off while there and heartbroken, she had to move on without him. I often wonder if I see his ghost when I drive around Cottonwood at night.

Main thing I did today was to get out the Eastern Orthodox cross my mother bought for me years ago. She was disappointed that I could not accept it from her since I had fallen away from the church. As it was, I already owned a smaller cross, safely tucked into my jewelry box. But this one, the big chunk of silver she had specially ordered from a silversmith in Jackson, Wyoming is absolutely stunning. It has more meaning to me now.  She had it blessed, and she left it in her dresser for me to find  after she died. I think maybe she has been nudging me from the other side to come back to the fold. And, after I received an extremely insensitive email from a former friend earlier this week, I decided it was time. I suppose I had an epiphany:

God bless the 8% of women who decided to go ahead with their pregnancy after learning that their prenatal testing showed they would have a child with Down Syndrome. Eight percent! And shame on those self-proclaimed strong women, the 92%, who chose to terminate their pregnancies. You tell me who is the stronger woman.

Could say more, but I’ll stop here.

This is really just a follow-up to the last post. I was reminded by a reader that postage is 45 cents, not 42 cents. I buy the forever stamps and forget the current prices. But, since an increase in postal rates goes into effect in January, it’s time to stock up on more stamps before the prices rise again. I joined the Letter Writers Alliance, so I figure I will need more.

When I was out and about yesterday, I was browsing through a shop in Sedona where they had some wax stamps and the wax. I could not resist. I know that there are ways to create your own wax stamps and save a few bucks, but instead I bought a sun-spiral and some gold wax. Some lucky person is gonna get that on a letter. Soon.

I noticed as I was driving back to Cottonwood that as the sun dipped behind the mountain (our sunset here), the closer I got to home the more I saw the sun not yet disappearing behind Mingus Mt. I really never thought about it before–the elevation changes make sunset at different times, and I never noticed it.

We have been blessed with beautiful weather–warm enough to take off a jacket in the afternoon. The photos and news coverage of the East Coast, the devastation and heartbreak and frustrations of the residents there make me feel almost guilty for enjoying nice weather. But the destruction in NY, NJ, CT and elsewhere is a learning experience for us all–we all need to be prepared as much as possible with batteries, candles, blankets, food, water, and perhaps a generator, so that we can ride out the aftermath of a disaster before help can reach us, assuming help can get to us or even be there. The Boy Scout motto is certainly relevant during these times.

English: Fragment of postmarked envelope with ...

English: Fragment of postmarked envelope with mixed standard denominated and non-denominated postage stamps issued by Russia franking, 2007 Русский: Фрагмент прошедшего почту конверта со смешанной франкировкой марками номинального и безноминального стандартного выпуска России, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A wax seal on a letter from Loudoun C...

English: A wax seal on a letter from Loudoun Castle, Galston East Ayrshire, Scotland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found a website I really like–it’s hosted by the Chicago-based Letter Writers Alliance. Glad to see that there are over 2700 members from across the globe. These days, it’s special to receive a handwritten note. And since I got myself a Verizon wireless phone contract limiting me to 200 minutes of talk or text per month, letter writing is starting to appeal to me more and more. The LWA is over at http://www.16sparrows.com. I might join. Heck, for $3 and change, that gives me (or you, maybe) a lifetime membership.

About this time in places like Chicago, staying in is more appealing as the days grow shorter. And why not spend some of that time writing to a friend or loved one? In fact, I sent a card to a friend (a letter, actually) last week when I knew my phone minutes were on the verge of drying up. And a few days ago, I surfed around for one of those fancy wax seal sets. I had one when I was a teenager and had a pen pal. Fun to use, and extra classy on deckled vellum. Back in those days there were stationery stores. Yes, for real! I spent an hour picking out just the right color and weight of stationery for my correspondence. Made me feel very Jane Austen. I had a cartridge ink pen, too. They’re still available if you look around the ‘net.

Another website I like is a compilation of a Woman’s Book of Days. I need to copy down the prompts–they stay the same each day and it’s a cool way to keep a journal if you don’t know what to say. These prompts include such lines as “today I am wearing,”  “today in the kitchen,” “today I am feeling” and many more that will give you a nice almanac of your week, month, or if you are diligent, your entire year. Plus, the almanac can give you some content for the letter you’re gonna write.

At 42 cents a pop for postage, it’s an inexpensive way to give someone a welcome gift in the mail. And if you and me and thousands of others make it a habit, maybe the post offices will stay in business.

It’s not that I haven’t thought about posting on this blog. It’s just that time keeps running away from me. I have a clear calendar today, and I am using this little chunk of time to let you know that I am still here, still healthy, and not writing as much as usual.

In the previous weeks I took a trip to Wickenburg, AZ to see the sights; to Sedona many times for various reasons–one being a lunch outing with Brian at Indian Gardens in Oak Creek. It was a Sunday morning and we were serenaded by a pleasant young man with a sweet voice. Have been to Dead Horse State Park to  hike several times, and it is especially nice to be out there with our gorgeous autumn weather. B and I went to Red Rocks State Park a couple weeks back to hike. We crossed Oak Creek three times on three little bridges–a change of routine from our usual path there.

Much of my time in October was spent readying for our annual community yard sale. I hosted mine on behalf of Rusty’s Morningstar Ranch.  The profits were decent, so the guys can look forward to some special treat the ranch will have in store for them. The former director, Marla, is now down in southern AZ setting up a residential facility there, and we currently have an acting director at RMR. Marla was given a big surprise going away party in late September at a very nice outdoor facility in Page Springs.

I have stacks of photos to sort, and some to print. I rarely get around to doing that. I am finishing my class in haiku/senyru. It is more technical than my sensibilities allow with too many shoulds and proper forms and such. Not my style, but I am keeping as open a mind as possible [and NOT writing as much as I did in my looser Talking Landscapes class].

Lots to do and a full day to do it in, except that times flies even faster the older one gets.  More here soon, I hope.

One of dozens of images I took while in Wickenberg. This one is probably the least interesting.

Rusty’s Morningstar Ranch for Adults with Autism (in Cornville) is losing its current director, Marla Guerrero. Staff and Board of Directors threw a surprise going away party for her last evening. Tears were plentiful, and tributes grand. The ranch, as I understand it, is currently searching for a new director. Marla is heading south around Bisbee to start a new program for persons with autism. Interim director is Liesl (last name escapes me). She came to the ranch from the AZ Dept of DD and has been a treasure trove of information for administrative functions.

Brian and I enjoyed the party–we were served barbecue beef sandwiches but the real stunner was our location. Hard to find, the private horse property off Page Springs Road has a large ramada near Oak Creek, and the upper level of the ramada offers several bedrooms. I assume those are for inebriated partygoers (not at the RMR function) who would surely drive off the steep road that leads into/out of the property from Page Springs road. My car nobly carried the steep hill well without veering off the cow thigamajig and landing in a steep ditch. Anyway, Marla was very touched by the love of her staff and her sendoff to bigger things.

I did not get to chat with the board members much so I am not sure if they are doing a national search for a new director. Just putting the word out for anyone with the skills and deep knowledge of autism spectrum disorders.

An April view of Mingus Mt and the Black Hills from Rusty’s Morningstar Ranch. Imagine waking up to that view every morning!

When I was back in the midwest, my sister and I took the Chicago Architectural Society river tour. Not only did I arrive a few days earlier from Flagstaff on Amtrak, I made two trips on the South Shore train. Going “home” was full of nostalgia and green, growing things. I miss hydrangea, but we have mums here in Cottonwood. But back to the boat tour. Summer temperatures and a hot afternoon sun reflccting off the river made it seem a little Arizona-like. Nothing can beat the Chicago skyline, however. Here are some pix:

Along Michigan Avenue heading north before the boat tour.

A sign reflecting the sunny day

Wrigley Building from the boat

There will be a story in the Beacher

Trump Tower

about the boat tour soon.

Visiting northwest Indiana was a refreshing break for me. The time went way too fast, of course. Some of the highlights began before embarking on the Amtrak in Flagstaff. Jean, Linda and I visited Walnut Canyon (where we shot photos of the Indian paintbrush and other wildflowers; Sunset Crater, filled with black lava fields, and finally, downtown Flagstaff, where we browsed the shops and marvelled at the activiity for a Sunday evening. The train arrived a bit late, and I boarded by 4 a.m. and woke everyone in my coach as I fumbled for my reserved seat. But the views were heavenly as we travelled east through New Mexico. The overnight was a teeny bit much. Sleep came in fits. When we arrived early the next morning in Kansas City, I was ready to absorb the sights along southern Iowa and Mississsippi river towns. The train arrived on time in Chicago. I made it over to the South Shore station in time to catch the 4:02 pm pre-rush hour crowds.

The book signing was overwhelmingly touching, since high school classmates showed up to say hello and buy copies. I was totally taken off guard. Plus, the Times of Northwest Indiana filled their Sunday Lifestyle section with an article about me and the book. I sold out all the copies I had on hand, too. Left a few at the Chesterton Art Center and at the Beverly Shores Depot Gallery. The Westchester Library and Museum each received a complimentary signed copy from me.
Will post some pictures and add some notes about my train trip to Chicago from Dune Park to enjoy a Chicago river cruise.
If you missed me at the European Market and want to purchase a copy of Talking Landscapes: Indiana Dunes Poems, you can buy them at Amazon.com or Createsapce.com or just contact me. Cost is $10, plus shipping and applicable tax.
BTW, tomorrow I begin a new class in Haiku and Senryu and Wabi Sabi with a new instructor at OLLI at Yavapai College.

Harold and i sign books at the Art Center on September 8.

So yesterday Jean, Linda and I drove to Sedona to complete some errands, and we decided to stop for a bite at Wildflower (the West’s version of Panera). Off the parking spaces grew some lovely prickly pear cactus. They sported their maroon pods and look lovely right now. A fellow walking by saw us admiring the plants and told us that the pods, when boiled, make a sweet syrup. Excellent, I thought.

I decided that bringing some with me to Indiana would be nice–to give to friends a little something southwestern. And careful as I was, putting a plastic bag over my hand as I twisted off the pods, I still managed to get stickers embedded into my fingers. Ugh. The pricklies are tiny and annoying. Pouring a little hydrogen peroxide worked, as well as tweezers. But since that experience, I decided I would rather get stuck by a rose thorn.

And yes, readers back in Indiana–you will get your pods, so beware.

English: 0

English: 0 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My son Chris is on his way back to Indiana today. Before he left, we had a whirlwind mini-road trip around the state. We visited cousins in Phoenix on one of the hottest days (115) of August, then practically froze atop Mt. Elden (?) when we took the Snow Bowl’s (Flagstaff) chair lift for a leisurely ride.

We froze because it is still monsoon season, and as rotten luck would have it, a cloudburst exploded upon all who were riding the lift. To make matters worse, thunder and shoots of lightning crackled around us. Downright scary it was. The sun shone as we ascended, but clouds overtook blue sky by the time we were near the top. Once at the top, we chose not to dally, but to join the growing queue of people wanted to get down the slope as quickly as possible. We were two thirds down the mountain when the sky opened. I had stashed a map of Flagstaff in my camera bag, and it was the only thing I had to cover my head as the cold rain bounced down upon us. Chris was wearing his IU cap, which helped a little. Just as the paper map was falling apart, the lift stopped. Period. No up, no down. There we were, taking the brunt of the rainfall and not particularly caring about the view–all gray and washed out.

We were spared a lightning strike, which made the day very lucky indeed for us two Irish-surnamed lift riders. After we disembarked from the lift, our clothes dried in about five minutes–such is the arid climate despite the rain. This was a day we would not forget–and we will foryears laugh about it— now that we’re safe.

We rode the Verde Canyon RR with Brian and had a leisurely excursion. We went to Red Rock Crossing in Sedona but I am STILL working on getting my photos out of my phone to post them here. We, along with 75% of the nation’s flies, had a cookout featuring bison burgers at Dead Horse State Park. Lots of fun and more stories to talk about when we are old.

The mountain skyline appeared smoky this morning. Was told that a haboob came through last night. A haboob is a dust storm. Glad I had the windows shut.

Two and a half weeks until my Amtrak trip to Chicago, and my Indiana booksigning. Looking forward to that.