my week in arizona

I picked only the very best pictures. I’m not sure you can fully appreciate the challenge I faced. Because I take a lot of pictures! Even when I exercise self-control!

I need to impress upon you the amazing beauty we experience here in Oregon. Even on a cloudy day we catch glimpses of Mount Hood on our way through the French Prairie heading south to the airport at Eugene. I couldn’t leave that out!

I know, there aren’t even any people to see. Still, you can sense the calm atmosphere in the Anderson home here in “my” spot. I/we had lots of plans for the week, but I have a phone full of new books I’ve been ordering on the cheap through BookBub; this spot became my retreat center.

I made a date with Joy (Hatch, our Erin’s mom) and Ed happened to be home from work this day. Joy and I enjoyed 2.5 hours of comfortable conversation in comfortable chairs in the comfort of their backyard overlooking the golf course. We seem to have a lot in common, the two of us, neither running out of words about books and church and family (we’re related, of course) and life in general.

Who could resist booking a flight?

Are they not as cute as they come?

Who’s inside and who’s outside?

That’s Tera, dear friend of Quinn and this is her home. You’ve seen her before, in my Thanksgiving build posts. The whole Finkbeiner family is close with the whole Anderson family. I love when that happens.

Yep, they played that game. They got most of them right, but oops not this one.

The crowd was most entertained! BTW, Bailey’s parents adore and admire his choice for a lifemate.

And so many thoughtful and generous gifts!

Marissa, Bailey, Sarah, Cassidy—on June 1, they will all have the same last name.

“Old” and good friends just can’t be beat. Heather, Justin, and Quinn go back 24 years!

Thanks, Tera and Julie! You threw a smashing wedding shower party!

Sunday morning followed and I lingered behind to get yet another favorite shot of the family heading into church.

After service they willingly posed for this whole-family shot. Gotta snap these when I can!

After lunch. I took a drive down to Oro Valley to spend some time with cousin Aneta and her husband, Kent. I visited them three years ago, yet we managed to find plenty to talk about.

Their daughter Stephanie dropped in after taking her kids to school the next morning. It was she and her sister, Carrie, who invited me to a 50th anniversary celebration for their parents last June. Quinn and I were there; who can resist a family party invitation? Obviously, I can’t!

We had a lot to talk about and I even let her get a word in edgewise. She has strong beliefs and isn’t shy about expressing them. I hope we’ll convince her and her family to join a Thanksgiving build some year. Maybe later this year!

Before I headed back up to Queen Creek, I grabbed this selfie, which I have to admit, makes me smile. I wonder why . . .

My post wouldn’t be complete without including one with the baby of the family. Issy Bear took me for power walks nearly every day. She gets her fair share of attention from every single family member.

How am I doing? Only the very best pictures, right? Here we are at Pei Wei, Marissa’s choice for her farewell dinner. She soon leaves for Verona, Italy, to spend a semester of study abroad. She is only a few days past her 20th birthday. Such a lovely young woman!

Exactly two years have passed since I visited cousin Carolyn and her husband, Tom, in their beautiful Scottsdale home. This time she met me at a coffee shop. Since she is actually cousin to Margaret-Rose (Mauri’s first wife), I get to claim her too. Our 2.5-hour conversation covered the gamut of iPhone photography, Bible study, family dynamics, our common love for Pepsi/Coke and resistance to indulge, and more. Margaret-Rose is my soul-sister, and I’m happy to avow Carolyn as my soul-cousin.

I couldn’t be so close to Grand Canyon University without getting a parking pass and taking a walk around the campus where Marissa has been a student for 1.5 years. She has moved out of her dorm because of her upcoming semester abroad. But now I can picture her in this setting when she returns as a junior next fall.

Cassidy shoots a free throw (it goes in) and I got to witness two games. As a freshman she played with the varsity as well, winning both games, by the way. The whole family turned out to cheer on player #12.

Cass was less than amused by her team photo, but she showed us anyway.

Everybody’s getting ready to leave, not just the gym but to other countries. Marissa says bye to Papa and Guh—she heads to Italy and her grandparents head to Mexico!

And the next morning Quinn dropped off two travelers, Dusty heading for Oregon, where he works!

Quinn unpacks another shipment of diapers for the Babies of Juarez. (I’m glad the site is back up so I could link it.)

Anybody recognize this guy?

Dale and Mina DeWitt are long-loved friends from my life in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Much water has passed under the bridge for all of us since those days, but being with them felt as though not a single day has passed. Still, we had plenty of stories to tell, and the afternoon turned into evening.

Their DIL Beth joined us for dinner (Brad couldn’t make it in time), and I just had to wonder if my heart could hold any more after a week of rich conversations with so many loved ones.

Time to head home. I’ll miss everybody, but maybe especially this girl. Thanks, Bailey, for snapping this keeper.

Issy is ready to wave farewell with her white hanky.

Sniff, sniff. Bye bye. I miss you already!

It’s only a nine-minute drive to the Mesa-Gateway airport. Allegiant offers two flights a week to/from Eugene, but you can’t beat the no-frills fares.

I couldn’t resist reaching across to snap a picture of Mount Hood on the way home. Bookend photos to hold together this photo epistle of my week in Arizona. It might take another week for my feet to touch the ground.

Posted in family matters, travels | 2 Comments

walking the dog

I reclaimed Mr. Darcy (a.k.a. Darcy Girl) this morning after a week at her home away from home (a.k.a. Newberg Canine Rehab). She settled right back into her routine of sleeping, with the exception of our afternoon walk. When Mauri is away, I become her primary caregiver, and she adjusts quickly to my way of doing things.

For example, we go out the back door instead of the front.

She walks right beside me and doesn’t pull the leash. Mauri has taught her to sit when we stop, which is what she’s doing here even though it doesn’t look like it. I wanted her to pose at the new bypass. I’m sorry to say he’ll notice I didn’t clean her eyes when we got home this morning. Will he notice her nails are clipped?

We took a longer-than-usual walk, probably to compensate for the past seven days.

We stopped at this sign so I could explain I grabbed the wrong jacket, the one without a roll of clean-up bags in its pocket.

Checking out the view from the top.

Half way down.

To think this beautiful river and landing are only a short walk from our house!

I don’t think my picture represents the actual angle of ascent we’re looking at.

Huff puff . . . almost there . . . huff puff. I think I can, I think I can.

We made it! Coming in the back way gives us a look at the school all three of our local school-aged grandkids attend. Maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of one or more on the playground!

She was not the slightest bit interested in looking once she eyed a squirrel. This is her slinky, pointy stance.

Outsmarted by that wily bushy-tailed critter, not very hidden in this leafless tree.

Whew! Back home for a long drink of water—both of us! Tomorrow we’ll go back to our normal half-hour route. Thanks for coming along! See you tomorrow at 2?

Posted in in the neighborhood | 1 Comment

jolliff “concert”

I’ve known the Jolliffs since I married Mauri nearly 25 years ago, though mostly from a distance. So we’re friends, just not close friends. Yet I carry a very close attachment to Brenda in particular, who was an attending nurse in the special care unit at Friendsview Retirement Community during Hazel’s final days. Who could forget one particular time we “kids” sat around her bed, Mauri playing guitar as we sang some old familiar tunes to ease those long hours of waiting? Brenda came in to check on Mom, then lingered to add harmony along with her gentle, sweet spirit to our song. She knew every word to every verse.

used by permission

When Bill and Brenda’s kids come home for Christmas, they spend a lot of time making music in their living room. For at least several years they’ve offered some of their “living room” music to the local public in a local coffee shop. Its popularity eventually pushed them to find a bigger venue, and North Valley Friends Church gladly opened their doors for this year’s “concert.” Bill was careful to make us attenders aware they were inviting us to sit back and listen in on their living-room jams, that lyrics and chords were notedly spread on the floor. Bill’s work as professor of English at George Fox University defines only part of him. His bluegrass roots go way back, at least as far as his grandmother, and he and Brenda have obviously gifted it to their children. HERE‘s a nice story about Bill.

I raised my arms in front of Mauri’s face to capture our good view.

And then I used his leg to steady my hand for this familiar tune. Jake has gained notoriety for his mandolin playing, turning his dad’s encouragement at age 7 to practice ten minutes a day into a profession. There’s a lesson to be learned there.

I imagine Brenda and Rebecca sing along in the living-room jam sessions. Maybe they hummed quietly from the back row. Much of my personal enjoyment of this “concert” centered around my own blessing to be raised in a musical family and the memories I still carry of standing around our living-room piano and singing the songs of our time.

This is my older siblings and me at Aunt Helen’s piano. c1954
Mother at the piano, Dad and brother Johnny singing. c1956

Somehow I find it irresistible to pull up pieces of my own history as illustration. What can I say?

Musical Macys singing by Hazel’s bed. Both sons still play the instruments they faithfully practiced in childhood. c2011
Posted in in the neighborhood | 1 Comment

family merry christmas

Like yours, our family starts celebrating Christmas long before the 25th. The bigger the family and the older we get, the longer it takes to fit in all the traditions and celebrations we’ve established over time.

Our Macy/Williams side began with its annual brunch feast at The Jory, a restaurant associated with The Allison, a local resort and spa. We have to reserve early in order to win the private room that seats all 12 of us at one table.

We always stop and take a big breath while a long line of accurately ordered servers carrying our food parade around our table and place steaming plates simultaneously in front of each family member. As they leave I resolve that next year I will be prepared to capture this phenom on film.

John Macy always comes prepared with his camera and tripod to document one year of change in our appearance.

These cousins (Will, Brynn, Lincoln, Oscar, Sage—clockwise) spend a lot of time together and adore each other just like the picture implies.

John Williams with Oscar. Rachel’s absence from this photo in no way illustrates her absence from our thoughts and hearts, especially at times like this.

Linsey and Pete, Lincoln and Will Macy

Erin and John, Brynn and Sage Macy

I’ll update the Family in Photos page after I post this. It includes family updates.

The parental units.

Our family celebration then continues at John and Erin’s house for a “stocking” exchange.

It was so fun to see this displayed in a prominent place in their new home.

It as also fun to watch Lincoln master the balance board we gave him.

Soonafter, we saw it on social media repurposed as a foot rest.

Still a traveling musician, Mauri has minimized his travel gear to carry in with one trip: guitar, stool, and amp. In days of yore, he hauled a trailer full. We’re heading in to Friendsview Retirement Community to provide some Christmas cheer for the Parkinson’s support group.

We got to pick up the girls from school, a two-block walk away, and entertain them until their parents reclaimed them. I include this so you can see our tree and lights. Another area to minimize/simplify.

Leading up to Christmas, I’m sent (or snag from social media) pictures from far-away family. Here’s Beth with Avery, Emery, and Declan—and that jolly guy too. I had to narrow my photo choices because Beth, not wanting her kids to miss anything, took them on at least one Christmas outing every single day.

The Carlson family at Beth’s parents’ home.

Here’s another batch of cousins, grandchildren belonging to Beth’s parents, Tim and Trish. Yes, they represent two sets of twins with a recent announcement that another set of twins, this time boys, will become brothers to that sweet, unsuspecting boy in the middle.

After a retirement absence of four years, Mauri again led the handbell choir at NFC’s Christmas Eve services. They played great! [Apologies for cutting out one top-row ringer; I guess I was making sure the director got in the photo as they rehearsed.] I helped Mauri lead the singing portion of the services, preempting my ability to take other pictures.

Meanwhile, the Anderson clan filled one whole row at one of Redemption Gateway’s Christmas Eve services down in Arizona.

Next Christmas Eve, services will be held in their brand new facility. We might need to plan ahead . . .

This new tradition awaited us after our second service. I had to go back to the invitation to tell you what it’s called. Charcuterie, pronounced SHär’koodərē. Got it? This one’s an expanded version that includes more than meats.

We were happy to be included in this new tradition (replacing one that had reached its appropriate closure) that includes our kids’ family and friends.

This photo of two enthusiastic sis-in-law cooks instantly sent me back to 2005, when I caught this one:

I tell ya—I’d like to meet anyone who loves her pictures more than I love mine.

And—poof—it was Christmas morning, when Mauri and I and of course Darcy enjoyed some traditions of our own. How does she know that present is for her?

She got one-on-one attention from her adoring master, a sun-shiny walk through the George Fox campus and a rest on this picturesque porch.

And on Christmas evening we were, yes, eating again! Lighting inspired by hygge, pronounced HUE-gah! John and Erin have a lovely new home with lots of space that allows us to all eat around one table and other gathering spaces that allow us to . . .

. . . assemble a puzzle!

Sage stayed with it start to finish! She even found the three missing pieces that had slipped under the sofa.

I sure love the camaraderie element of puzzle work!

The day ended viewing with videos and photos of our Carlson littles reacting to Santa’s generosity and a peek at them playing with the gifts we sent.

Then today, two days after Christmas, FedEx delivered a bonus gift—three layers of Christmas temptation. Thankfully, the sender was clearly marked on the box. Two gifts came this year without identifying the giver. One mystery has since been solved,

…but this gift will go unacknowledged. Unless, of course, it’s from you, my dear friend. You’ll let me know, right?

Thus ends my up-to-the-minute Christmas report. Now we move toward New Years. By then Mauri will be settled out at Twin Rocks for Sabbath by the Sea while I keep the home fires burning with the dog. There’s plenty to do here, even for one newly retired. One luxury is time to reread all the letters we received from you and others who don’t follow this blog. I love communicating with friends and family by any means possible and look forward to all opportunities 2019 holds. You will no doubt be included in many of these connections.

I’ve been writing a Christmas greeting since 1971, the year Quinn was born. Like with this blog, I use my notebook of letters for reference because the memory I carry around in my head sometimes needs a little assistance. On my list for the months ahead is to scan all the letters and then update it until I can’t anymore. HERE’S the one I’ll tack on to the end.

Posted in family matters, nostalgia | 1 Comment

more shadowbox fun

We waited not very patiently for Bailey to text his parents and fiancé that his delayed flight from Iowa to Arizona had finally boarded. Each of us “waiters” had our own reason for wanting him to hurry home from college for the Thanksgiving break.

Of course I wanted to see him, but I had already waited a few months for the moment he and Sarah would open the special Sudie’s Corner creation — a shadowbox reproduction of their engagement scene.

You might remember last July when I wrote about this event. Susana, of Sudie’s Corner, agreed to put her artistic abilities toward this project of recreating the engagement scene as a tangible reminder for the lovebirds.

As with the shadowbox she made for John and Erin, featuring the home they were about to leave, Susana patiently back-forthed with me to get all the details right.

Can you see Sarah holding her diamond ring? And how cool it was that Bailey included his sisters in the surprise!

I was beside myself when it was time to pick up the masterpiece! Seriously. Have you ever met anyone as sappy sentimental as I am?

But I had another reason to eagerly anticipate Bailey’s arrival. Susana had made another shadowbox—this one for Quinn.

You might have some idea how much I love this picture of Quinn being thanked by these moms who receive the benefit of her work with diapers and formula for the… Babies of Juarez. So this became the basis for a shadowbox for me to gift Quinn to honor her good work.

Those ever-present sunglasses atop her head had to be part of her peg-doll image.

The shirt and even the tattoo were added too.

Susana worked really hard on the mamas and babies, having never painted people before this.

And yet . . . look! Isn’t it just grand?

So many people help with the ministry of Babies of Juarez — Dusty and all three kids and friends who shop for bargains — I couldn’t choose, so Susana suggested she find some small wood pieces and paint them as diapers and formula.

“Find some wood pieces” sent me upstairs to my stash of grandkid toys to find these treasured blocks from my kids’ childhood. I sent her this picture of Ben, then took a selection to her home studio only a few blocks from our house.

She thought these would be perfect.

Voilà! All varnished and ready to go!

Yet another masterpiece ready to pack away for our Thanksgiving travels to Arizona . . . all wrapped up and now waiting for the late arrival of Bailey Anderson.

Finally!!! Here’s Bailey and Sarah’s first glimpse. I could hardly contain myself.

All of the “subjects” present to share in the discovery.

And yes, there it is—my ridiculous grin.

Then Quinn opened hers and my heart was bursting all over again. It’s the price we sappy sentimentalists pay.

Seriously! How much can one mom/Gus take? Note the dog’s interest? She’s wondering when Susana will make her a shadowbox. . .

– – – – – –

Susana featured Quinn’s shadowbox on her Facebook page. Check it out!

And here’s her Etsy shop. She has a website too, where she shares her story, but last I checked it was “down.” But just in case it opens for you, here’s the link.

Instagram is another place to follow her. Find it HERE.

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new mexico

If I didn’t write about our post-Juarez New Mexico road trip, despite its misordered timing, I wouldn’t have any record of it and I’d have a bunch of lost and lonely photos with no story, no closure. We can’t have that, now can we? So . . .

Why would I start with a picture of our Carlsbad motel-room door? Um, would you believe it’s the first one I took after waving farewell to the team in El Paso? 

We had a short, beautiful drive to Carlsbad, but somehow missed the turnoff to the caverns 20 miles earlier. It’s a national park, for crying out loud! How could we miss that? Oh well, at least we found our motel, exorbitantly priced given its proximity to Carlsbad Caverns. So we stayed put.

But after a good night of sleep and a tasty breakfast we decided to skip the caverns in favor attending worship at Oasis Church.

The worship singing portion and pastor’s intro to communion lasted a full hour, so at a shift in the service we made a discrete exit. 

A pretty exciting road trip so far, eh? Well, here we are at our Airbnb in Roswell. Isn’t it cute? We had the whole Cosy Adobe to ourselves.

It was a good thing, too, because Mauri was coming down with a doozy of a c.o.l.d. and needed to stretch out and snooze to the comforting sounds of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. [This article on The Gospel Coalition affirms our assessment of this movie.]

While “road trip” is synonymous with “adventures in restaurant exploration,” We were committed to maintaining a balanced diet, enough to haul all the necessary gear and ingredients for daily replacement meals.

Just outside of Roswell we found Bitter Lake National Wildlife Reserve with a five-mile road that circles the property, giving broad overviews . . .

. . . and somewhat close-up views of wildlife. In this case thousands of snow geese that migrate from as far away as Siberia.

Mauri has an eye for birds and uses an app on his phone to identify them. At one of the overviews he spotted a loggerhead shrike.

The app emailed this to me at his request. Technology!

He spotted a coyote! See it? Well, then maybe you can see the visitor center in the distance.

Since Roswell is known for a UFO sighting back in the decade of our birth, Mauri obliged my need for this photo op.

Wait! Before you think this is our remarkable wildlife shot—truth is we didn’t get a single picture of the multiple small herds of pronghorn antelope on the way from Roswell to Santa Fe. Mauri spotted one herd after another from the passenger side of the car, but our cruising speed offered little opportunity to capture their beauty on his phone. But aren’t they beautiful?

We arrived at our next Airbnb well past dark. As spacious as our Roswell Airbnb was, this one was, well, the opposite. Mauri barely found room for his knees in the only chair provided. But we gave it high marks in the review because of the creative ways our host fit extra amenities in this tiny room. 

If you’re wondering what has Mauri’s interest on his phone: It was Tuesday night when Newberg Brass gathers to rehearse in his recording studio. So he checked in with them through the security camera, even talked to them.

After breakfast we ventured out as actual tourists, visiting the New Mexico State Capitol

Clearly, crowds were not a problem. Where is everybody?

We were told not to miss Loretto Chapel. It was beautiful, as you can see, but the main attraction was the circular staircase on the far right.

Apparently it is an architectural wonder as it has no visual means of support. Mauri had his doubts as we stood, staring, studying. I’m of the gullible ilk, but now that I have better access to Google, I will concede to THIS Snopes finding. And we paid $5 each to see this miracle. Hrumph.

Don’t let that brilliant blue sky fool you. Our teeth chattered as we walked the town in our too-thin jackets. No wonder we had all the sights to ourselves! All other humans were smart enough to stay inside.

So we went back to our Airbnb, packed up, and headed toward Flagstaff. 

Saguaro cacti signaled our return to Arizona.

Since scenery and food are the two elements that make a road trip successful (to us), you might imagine the challenge to keep from including every dining establishment we visited. If I were to choose a favorite, it would be Fat Olives. If life ever takes you to Flagstaff, don’t miss it!

Our New Mexico road adventure ended with the superior accommodations offered by the Andersons in Queen Creek. We’ve come to prefer travel via small airports, one located 10 minutes from their house. We fly Allegiant Airlines from Phoenix Gateway into Eugene, where friends Craig and Pam meet our flight with our car, which they’ve graciously housed in our absence, saving us airport parking fees! How wonderful is that?

The two-hour drive home through beautiful Oregon landscape extends the road trip with reminders of our blessing to live in such a place — though not a single antelope was in sight!

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two brothers

Our December calendar started out with two consecutive weekend visits from two beloved brothers.

You can see the blur of Darcy’s tail as she greets DK (younger brother of Margaret-Rose, once known to her as Daryl). 

Darcy knows she’ll get a power walk out of DK and didn’t even protest the foot cleaning on their return.

DK’s visits involve checking in with “the kids” — his own and ours while he’s in town. We “worried” that when Mom Edna died he’d stop visiting us from all the way up in Winthrop, WA. We’re glad that didn’t happen. Mauri likes making breakfast and coffee for our guests.

And then he was off to build a deck on another “kid’s” house. Hurry back, DK!

A few days later we welcomed brother John from Florida. Darcy wonders if she might get a walk out of this stranger.

This visit included lots of show and tell — some of my photo book projects, my graphics/editing/photography work for Friendsview Retirement Community, and I think most enjoyable to him my seven giant notebooks of family archives and memorabilia. The contents brought on much conversation and remembering together. He probably won’t appreciate this photo, taken without enough warning to remove his reading glasses. It seems reasonable to me that an 80-year-old would need reading glasses.

Just like old times, we sang together. Our mother used to accompany us, but Mauri filled that role nicely. He knows all the songs we love and can play them in whatever key our aging voices need.

We got to hear Mauri’s two brass groups play Christmas music at Chapters, a local bookstore.

And got treated to a candy cane by a passing Santa Claus!

He posed with me for the requisite “remember when you visited us?” photo…

… as we headed to George Fox Bauman Auditorium for a wonderful Christmas concert.

The next morning we had just enough time to attend the worship portion of NFC’s morning service and hear the handbell choir and Mauri lead singing with the men’s quartet — then head toward the airport in the first Oregon rain of his whole visit.

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