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.


It’s taken long enough to get these pictures online. After we took a little drive through Oak Creek Canyon to stop at a favorite place to eat, we headed toward the Village of Oak Creek for more pictures. BTW, as a Travel Advisor on a popular website, I could kick myself for recommending a favorite little spot. Since I posted that review, there have been mobs of people showing up. Best to keep some things secret….

Our next adventures were going to the most famous photo spot in Sedona, down at Canyon Moon and Oak Creek. Took pictures with my camera phone and am still working to get them online here.

English: Canyon wall, Oak Creek Canyon, Arizon...

English: Canyon wall, Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona Uploaded on April 20, 2005 by kevinzim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first heard the word ‘noseeme” I had no idea what it meant. A gardener was talking about pests. What they are to midwesterners are chiggers.

Those nasty little biters, along with what look like fleas and nastier fire ants all resurrected after a recent monsoon downpour here. And I, not armed with insect repellant, got the worst of the biters. The fire ants were on the hose I was trying to move. My hand felt like I had just touched a hot stove. The noseeme’s–or the bites they made– are now covered in nail polish. Until I put on the clear polish variety, the tiny welts itched like crazy. Last year I had no problem with any of these pests. And the insect control guys take care of the bigger threats, like scorpions. I discovered a centipede that was about six inches long and another inch and a half wide walking across my screened-in porch. Took me a few days before I would venture out there.

For all the bug complaints, we here are happy to get the rain. Yesterday evening we had a terrific hail storm (the size of marbles) that made a lot of racket. Pity the poor drivers out in it, because I’m sure they now have a few dents that were entirely unexpected.

Chris is visiting, and we ventured to Sedona yesterday. Not too bright of an idea since uptown was entirely clogged with tourists, and our trip back to uptown from Oak Creek Canyon was a bumper-to-bumper affair that would rival Chicago’s rush hour. There was a small rockslide that could have accounted for the backup. Anyway, since I am now officially a local and more familiar with some out-of-the-way scenic spots, Chris and I found a spot to take loads of pictures of the red rocks against gray, then clearing skies. I will post mine soon, so stay tuned.

I am cleaning out my offfice, and ran across a poem I had written for my short form poetry class [I am currently finishing a memoir class]. Thought you  poets out there might like this. BTW, Jean, Linda and I, charter members of the Dead Horse Poetry Society, have been doing other than writing lately. Yesterday eve, after watching the quirky movie “Moonrise Territory” (or something like that). we hung out at the Wildflower
Bread Company terrace watching the sun do its magic on Sedona’s red rocks. We talked about paranormal stuff and dreams…..

Anyway, here’s my poem:

Dental Care


She hates all drills and shots inside her gums;

She likes nitrous for root canals, cavities, crowns, cleaning.

Nitrous oxide



Her white teeth gleam.

Return in six months.

The Poetry Society's Cafe

The Poetry Society’s Cafe (Photo credit: Steve Bowbrick)

It’s taken me long enough to get my 4th of July pictures unloaded from my camera and post them here. Part of it is the heat–too uncomfortable to sit at the computer and type.That’s not to say that I’ve been entirely languid. In the past week I’ve enjoyed swims at the pool, the community band concert in Clarkdale, and a lovely late afternoon poetry class in Sedona. Plus, Brian and I went to see Rock of Ages [can’t believe it was rated ONLY a PG-13, unless those initials mean girls getting pregnant at the tender age of 13!.

Here are some photos of a few recent outings. Was in Flagstaff Monday and was it ever pleasant! Nice temperatures in the cool 80’s. Met a fellow IU grad at the summit of Oak Creek Canyon–his family is enjoying a week in the scenic city. The trip downhill from Flag became warmer and warmer as we descended, and it was outright HOT when we got back to Cottonwood. I did not take my camera on that trip, darn it.

The Sedona poetry class was led by Ann Metlay. She, Linda and I wrote a few verses and just talked and got to know one another a little better. The sunset was gorgeous, of course. We met a vacationer who was spending time in Sedona with her husband–they were from Texas. The three of us writers thanked our good fortune to live amid the beauty that is Sedona.

Brian enjoys the Sousa music at the Clarkdale Community 4th of July event.

Fantastic piccolo playing for the Stars & Stripes Forever–the Cottonwood Community Band made the 4th of July a perfect celebration in Clarkdale this year.

Some members of the Dance Folklorico troupe await their turn to perform at the Clarkdale 4th of July celebration.

We are surrounded by beauty before us…

Beauty surrounds us–a perfect setting for writing poetry.

Twilight time on a warm Sedona evening.

English: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Mt....

English: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Mt. Baldy, Michigan City – a sand dune constantly in motion Polski: Park narodowy Indiana Dunes – Mt. Baldy – stale przemieszczająca się piaszczysta wydma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally, finally the Talking Landscapes: Indiana Dunes Poems project is complete! If one ever attempts to publish, know that it is an extended process that takes time. The proofing took over a week by four separate individuals. I am looking forward to returning to Chesterton and Michigan City in September to market the book. Hope my  readers will show up at the book signings. Learn more over at Indiana Dunes Poems.

Meanwhile here in Cottonwood, the temperatures sizzle. I see that Chicago is supposed to hit 101 degrees today, and that comes with humidity, no doubt. Nasty.

I just submitted an article for the Beacher and will write more about it later. Got to go take a swim and stay cool for now.

Our extreme heat continues. Cousins from Phoenix, where it is really sizzlin’, will be visiting me tomorrow as they return south from much cooler Flagstaff.

Each of us who live at Pine Shadows received a certified letter telling us that our lot rent is going up. None of those I talked with expected the huge leap of $37 a month more. In fact, it’s outrageous. Our landlord needs to explain his reasons.[We had an increase of about $24 last year]. Trash pickup costs for him only went up 47 cents. I am considering a move by next year at this time…..

Last Saturday Brian and I cooled off at Clarkdale’s town park for a concert of big band tunes. How they got all those musicians into the bandstand is beyond me. We enjoyed good music and a cool breeze. It doesn’t get much better than that….

We need rain. The monsoons are due. Everything is parched. Let’s hope we get some rain soon.

To survive days when the temperature is to rise to 101, a person has to get up with the birds and get their errands done, optimally before 10 a.m. That’s what I did so far today. I may take a dip in the pool, but for sure I will be dressing cooly in a loose cotton dress.
I have ironing to do, but the thought of the heat coming from the iron is yucky. It’s a good day to stay inside and read a book if you are retired.


Last week I had a dentist appt in Dewey. Dr. Arnall is so good, and his prices so reasonable, that it makes sense to drive over the mountain for care. I had novocaine in 3 different areas of my mouth, so I found it hard to talk. But, after the appointment, I went over to Prescott’s indoor mall–the equivalent of Southlake in Merrillville. Lots of businesses are closed, but the anchors are doing okay–Dillards, Penneys and Sears. I only ventured into Lenscrafters for a new pair of specs. I hope they work better than the ones I got earlier this year (a minor fiasco). The Goodwill across the street from the mall was big and full of bargains, but by the time I walked just one section, I was worn out and ready to come home. The trip to and from Prescott, Prescott Valley and Dewey is about one hour. It’s the shopping spot of choice for most people here in the Verde Valley.

I’ve had two visits to Marcus J. Lawrence Medical Center in the past month–neither for anything i had, but for friends. The first visit was to sit with a friend whose husband was having knee surgery. He is out, and back home doing well now.

Today I visited another friend who was admitted yesterday. She had a nasty fall and fractured a vertebrae. She will be out of the hospital by Saturday, she thinks.

The hospital–notice that they are no longer called hospitals–was very impressive to me. Lovely fountains and a courtyard off the surgery center, and large rooms for patients. The most interesting thing is how the hospital got its name.

Marcus J Lawrence had been a snake oil salesman at one time. He was one of many owners of the V Bar V cattle ranch (of which part is home to fantastic Sinaguan petroglyphs. Marcus liked to gamble and carouse over in Prescott, where the red light district was easy to find on Whisky Row. The Lawrence family, longtime Verde Valley residents, were well-regarded and from what I understand, a family member endowed Cottonwood with the funds to build the hospital. I may have some of that history garbled, but for sure Marcus sold a balm said to cure all sorts of ailments. Maybe Marcus turned his wild life around near the end of his life and chose to bequeath his funds to this project.

Head over to for the latest on my forthcoming book.

That is the reason I have been absent here, but I will be back soon with more adventures.