The Fearsome Foursome Ride the Colorado River

May 8, 2017






The Fearless Foursome (Donna, Judy, Shannon and I) headed from their homes in the Phoenix area to Peach Springs, Arizona for a one day white water rafting trip on the Colorado River in the western part of the Grand Canyon. The trip from Phoenix to Peach Springs took about three and a half hours.

We stopped at Seligman, an old town on Route 66. We visited in the souvenir shops and ate at Westside Lilo’s Café, a restaurant with excellent German and American food. My lunch, a dense and delicious carrot cake was so big I took it with us and we ate on it for several days.

After we checked into the Hualupai Lodge, Donna and Shannon got on their suits and went to the pool. Judy was still recovering from food poisoning four days before the trip. Donna and Shannon came back and convinced us to join them at the outside spa. The rules of the pool gave us the giggles, especially the exhortation to not go in the pool if suffering from diarrhea.

Judy and I went to the Lodge’s dining room for dinner. (Donna ate the leftovers of her lunch in the room. Shannon has a specialized diet and had brought her own food.) I tasted the Hualapai green chili, but it was too spicy for me. I ate the Haulapai stew instead. It was tasty and served with piping hot fry bread.

We did a lot of laughing before finally going to sleep.

We went to the complimentary breakfast the next morning, turned in our injury waivers, received white bracelets and awaited the start of our adventure. J.B., our driver, arrived in a van. He flirted shamelessly with Donna.

There were only six people on our trip. During the height of the summer, the trips had sixty to one hundred people. We met the other couple on our trip, Bill and Angela. It was his birthday. Donna and I were the oldest of the bunch.


B.J. drove us from Peach Springs down to Diamond Creek, the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We had to stop for a rattlesnake that didn’t want to get out of the road.

After we visited the last bathroom for the day, Robert and Bronson, our boatmen, outfitted us with PFD (personal floatation devices) otherwise known as life jackets. There were two boats: one with us, Robert, and Bronson; the other with a camera guy, a boatman and an extra fellow.

The scenery was gorgeous. All the photos of the Grand Canyon cannot communicate its magnificence.


The rapids are scored from one to ten. The river was low so the rapids we experienced were three to five, big enough for thrills but not dangerous or too scary.


We had our ponchos and rain jackets on, but we still got soaked as the water sprayed the pontoon boat. I couldn’t stop laughing as we bounced up and down in our craft.



We headed to a beach to take a hike to the Travertine Falls. I was worried about this part of the trip, concerned that I wouldn’t have the stamina. I went to the gym more than my usual once a week and put the incline of the treadmill up to “seven.” It didn’t make any difference because “hike” is a loose word for this part of the trek. It was more a rock scramble. Luckily there were only six of us and five helpers. We walked up sheer rock holding on to a rope. We climbed up two rope ladders. Since I have a size twelve foot, it was hard to get a toe-hold on the short steps. The helpers had us put our toes in rock crags and pulled us up.


We walked in the creek, through a cave and came upon the falls. It was worth it.






I bought Coolibar SPF 50 clothing for the trip, a long-sleeved tee shirt and beach pants. As the pants got wet, they elongated. I had to roll them up so I wouldn’t trip on them. However, I was the only person who did not get any sunburn.


When we got back to the opening of the cave, Robert suggested that I slide down. I sat down and away I went, ending up on my feet in a deep pool. A bit hard on the knees but so fun!

As we scrambled down the rocks, I substituted sliding on my butt for going down one of the rope ladders. Now my pants were brown and too long.

After a short rest, we got back in the boat and went through the bigger rapids. Everyone but me go into the bottom of the boat. I sat in the middle seat and hung on.




We travelled about twenty miles on the Colorado River. We stopped at a sandy beach and had lunch. Luckily there was a salad that Shannon could eat. The cold cut sandwiches were hearty, too much for me. We also had chips and soda, tea or water.


The motor boat took us the next twenty miles with no rapids.




We were very upset to find out that we were not going to get the helicopter ride out of the canyon. I was sure I had arranged it. The booking agent had even asked our weights, saying it she needed them to balance the helicopter. The waivers we’d signed that morning also asked our weights. We left Bill and Angela at the heliport for their trip back to Las Vegas. That’s also where the glass bridge is that juts out over the canyon. None of us were interested in paying the money to see it.

We continued another seventeen miles to the end of the Grand Canyon. After we used the porta-potties, a different driver took us back to Peach Springs, via Kingman. It was a two-hour ride back to the Lodge.

I spoke with the man at the expedition desk. He said we could have added the helicopter ride that morning, but of course we didn’t know it wasn’t included in our package. I was not that upset, as I was not happy about going in a helicopter. The ride from the bottom of the canyon to the rim was only six minutes long and would have cost an extra ninety dollars.

We took much needed showers and went to dinner at the lodge’s dining room. It had been a long day and we went to bed early.

On the way back to Phoenix, we did car karaoke. We stopped at the Rock Springs Café for lunch.


My thanks to Donna, who did all the driving. I think Shannon, who’s forty, found out that old people are fun.

I would do it again. We got the package with four to a room. There were two king-sized beds in the room. The package was $383 each, and included one night’s stay at the lodge and the one-day river trip, and trip insurance in case one of us couldn’t make the trip. The second night’s lodging was $112. Add $90 for the helicopter ride. Go to to book your trip. I think they’re running a Mother’s Day special.

A Grave Decision

April 14, 2017


One of the best things about being single and living alone is I get to make all of the decisions. One of the worst things about being single and living alone is that I get to make all the hard decisions by myself.

Sparky, my Shih Tzu-poodle, is fifteen and a half years old. I’ve had him since he was a puppy. He’s mostly blind due to cataracts, and he doesn’t hear much anymore, not even the crinkle of potato chip or dog treat bags. When I come home, he doesn’t get up from his bed or foam mat to meet me. He has Cushing’s Disease so his back is bowed and his back legs don’t work very well. And his front legs hurt. Sometimes he shakes. I’m giving him medication for the shakes but it doesn’t entirely go away and I know he’s in pain.

I’m an expert at ignoring what I don’t want to see. Last week I took Sparky to a dog physical therapist, a referral from my vet. I figured if I could just get those legs stronger, he’d be happier. He perked up for the assessment and the exercises. I bought an expensive harness to be able to pick him up and put him in my SUV. It will also allow me to attach his leash at his back end and lift his back legs when they’re too tired to walk.

He’s never recovered from his workout. I bought the two by two sticks to do some exercises at home, but never used them.

I’m dog sitting for my friend’s dog Lilah. She’s six and very peppy. She isn’t trained to use a doggie door, so I walk her three times a day. By Tuesday, Sparky was barely making it to the corner. After that, he preferred to stay at home.

I’ve been finding evidence of one of the dogs throwing up and peeing, but thought it was Louie, who had dental surgery a month ago. Today I saw that it was Sparky. He looks thin. Since the dogs are on “free feed,” I wondered if he was eating much at all.

Then I realized he hadn’t wagged his tail in at least a week. That was my sign. It was time to let him have a forever rest.

It would have been an easier decision if I lived with someone. I would have had another pair of eyes to prove or disprove my assumptions. And someone to help me make the ultimate decision.

This morning I called the vet and made the appointment for this afternoon. I had Sparky on my lap all morning, petting him as I read the newspaper.

He didn’t want to go for a walk at one when I took out Lilah. I realized he could no longer walk.

I had him on my lap as I read the novel Bel Canto this afternoon.

Finally, but too soon, it was time to go to the vet. He couldn’t walk to the car, so I carried him in my arms. That made my resolve stronger. He no longer had a decent quality of life.

When I got to the animal hospital, he wasn’t at all interested in the dog and puppies needing forever homes. He didn’t even look their way when the scrapped with each other.

When the vet tech weighed him, the scale showed he’d lost four pounds in two months.

I held him until it was time, crying softly. I laid him on the blanket on the examining table. It took but a minute to put him out of his pain. I cried when they left me alone with his body.

He was a great dog. I had fifteen happy years with him. He saw me through many crises: divorce, my mother’s death, my son’s estrangement. He listened without giving advice or telling me what I should do. He was crate-trained but I promoted him to sleep on my bed when my husband left. The last few years he mostly slept on the foam mat because he couldn’t get up or down from the bed on his own.

He accepted Louie when I took him in six years ago. Sparky was always a bit jealous, but didn’t take it out on Louie or me.

I know I made the right decision, but it would have been nice to have someone else confirm it.






Family Passover Dinner 2017

April 12, 2017


seder plate

On Saturday I started The Big Push, as we called it when my mother would start her preparations for a big gathering. Monday, April 10, is the first night of Passover. It’s observed at a seder, a special dinner. For the first time in quite a while I’ll have all my children and their families here. My newest granddaughter, Madison, was a preemie, and not allowed to go into society until after the RSV season was over. We missed celebrating my and Eric’s birthdays, so Shelley is bringing a cake for dessert.

The first thing was to plan the menu, which I did while listening to the Phoenix Symphony play Beethoven’s Ninth and Ode to Joy last Sunday with friends. I decided on matzo ball soup, brisket in the crock pot, asparagus, peas (for the grandkids,) and baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. I also had to get the items for the seder plate: hardboiled eggs as the harbinger of spring, morar, horseradish, as the bitter herb to symbolize the bitterness of the slavery of the Jews in Egypt, ingredients for the charoset (apples, chopped nuts, grape juice, sugar, cinnamon and honey) to stand in for the mortar the slaves used to build for the Pharaoh, and karpas, parsley, to remind us of the hard and cruel work the slaves did. And a separate plate of three matzos.

I also must get a few bottles of wine. The traditional seder calls for at least four glasses, but we take sips instead of downing the whole glass. My mother always served Manishevitz, but I’m opting for Ménage a Trois red blend.

My housecleaner comes on Mondays, so I decided to do all the cooking over the weekend so she could do the final clean up before the family came.

seder table 2017

I set the table ahead of time and put out the heavy glasses so the kids could feel they were included. It turned out no one drank wine and we all drank grape juice.

Only my son Max and I are Jewish, but the family enjoys the traditions I’ve shared with them. There’s a book, the Hagaddah, which is used during a seder to tell the story of Exodus, the story of Passover. We use a children’s Hagaddah to get the gist of the holiday without boring the pants off my young grandchildren, aged ten, six and newborn. And four. All kids like the end of the meal the best. Right after we begin to eat, I hide a piece of matzo, the Afikomen. In order to end the meal, the piece must be found. The oldest adult, or host or hostess, offers a monetary reward and the kids whoop and holler until they find it.

The matzoh ball soup came out the best of all the dishes. I used Susan Bailyn’s Tangy Chicken Soup recipe. I tried a new recipe for the brisket that included Grey Poupon but it didn’t taste any different from prior years. I tried using Wondra to make the gravy. It turned out great except it was impossible to get out all the lumps with the wire whisk so I had to strain it.

Shelley texted me that it was Savy’s turn to take the kindergarten class’s chicks home and they couldn’t be left alone. I said to bring them.

Liz, Max, and four-year-old Charlotte arrived first. I showed Charlotte my “Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly puppet and Liz had to sing it many times. When Savy arrived I did it with her.



Nick and his family arrived. I had expected little yellow chicks. Wrong. These were adolescents and black and white. They still captivated the children.


Eric and his family were running late so the three older children played while Nick and Max did the items on my “honey-do” list. I’d asked for no presents for my birthday, but rather for them to accomplish the items on my list. Nick and Max attached my headboard and screwed in the sliders for baskets under my kitchen sink. Eric was left with the task of replacing my kitchen ceiling fan, which he’ll do at another time.

After Eric, Amy, and Madi arrived, we started the seder. No one wanted wine, so I poured the grape juice into the sturdy wine glasses. Max said the blessings with me. We went through enough parts of the Hagaddah that I think the kids understood the meaning of the holiday. The children kept making up excuses to leave the table to look for the Aikman.

Below are me and Madi, Charlotte and Elizabeth, and Max, Eric and Madi.

Below are Nick and Madi; and Nick and Abby

Below are Savy, Amy and Madi and Shelley and Savy.

Max, Nick, and Liz cleared the table and rinsed the dishes. It’s going to take three loads to do them. I was sentimental and used my mother’s china, even for the little kids. Savy found it and was very pleased with the five-dollar reward.

Shelley had made a delicious birthday cake, decorated with Peeps. Eric and blew out the candles.

Eric and Annie bday cake

When Shelley took the second photo, the family photo-bombed us.

fam and photo bomb

I love doing these family dinners because my children and grandchildren genuinely like each other and have fun. As do I.

Mistake at the Movies

March 23, 2017

Recently, I went with Mr. Hot Stuff to a matinee to see Rogue One, a Star Wars Story. It was playing at Shea 14, an older theater not too far from my home in Scottsdale. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but I do love Star Wars.

Friends always give me the Harkins shirt and loyalty cup for Hanukkah, so I can get a free popcorn and $1.50 soda refill each time I attend a Harkins movie theater. I upgraded to a large popcorn for a dollar so I could share with Mr. Hot Stuff and bought him a loyalty cup filled with soda. (He had paid for the tickets.)

It was already dark in the theater when we chose our seats. He sat on the aisle to accommodate his long legs. (He’s fix feet six inches tall.)

Of course, about three quarters the way through the movie, I had to go to the bathroom. I quickly exited, visited the ladies’ room and raced back to my seat. I didn’t want to miss the action.

After the movie, as the credits were rolling, I said, “Since this is a prequel, we know how it ends.”

“Yes, no mystery there,” came the answer from an unfamiliar voice.

I looked to my left to see a nearly bald man, Mr. Hot Stuff’s follicle situation, but I was definitely not sitting next to the person with whom I’d arrived. I blanched and looked around. There sat Mr. Hot Stuff across the aisle and a row behind me.

I went hysterical laughing. I got up and sat down next to Mr. Hot Stuff. We both laughed so hard we couldn’t speak.

The man I’d sat next to left his seat and stopped to speak to us. “Just don’t tell my wife.”

This cracked all of us up.

I was nearly gaining my composure when the people across the aisle stood and said, “We got it all on video on our phone.”

This set off more deep belly laughs.

As we exited the theater, Mr. Hot Stuff said between chortles, “I was worried. I thought either you hated the movie or I’d come out to find ambulances.”

That evening, every time one of us mentioned the incident, we burst into gales of laughter.

All that laughing di me a world of psychological good.


It Must be Spring Because I’m Cleaning the Garage

March 14, 2017

Puppets in box           I don’t do Spring Cleaning because I’m allergic to cleaning supplies. Lucky me! I have a housekeeper who sparkles my place But, every spring I get the urge to get rid of stuff in the garage. Like rabbits, that stuff multiplies while I’m not looking.

This winter I had a job that required me to store boxes of materials in my garage. And I had many items from my kitchen (the sink, dishwasher, drawers) warehoused there as the restoration from a garbage disposal leak was being done. All that extra stuff was driving me crazy. I could barely get my car in the two-car garage.

My job ended on Friday and I got to send all the boxes back. The kitchen is restored so the drawers are back in place. I had to get rid of the old sink and reverse osmosis system. And I still haven’t been able to unload the antique doors I took off the living room cupboard. I tried selling them on a neighborhood Facebook site, but no takers. I finally decided to store the doors, put the sink in the recyled garbage, and throw the reverse osmosis system in the large dumpster the condo complex had put on site over the weekend. The dumpster was part of the impetus to get going on the project.

This year I decided to make a concerted effort to jettison everything I haven’t used in two years. Easier said than done. Having been a librarian, I’m used to “weeding” a book collection. I was ruthless. I’m not going to be doing any more workshops or teaching school again (even though I renewed my teaching and principal certificates for another eight years) so I let go of most of my storytelling philosophy books, teaching materials, books about writing I haven’t read, and children’s books. The latter I gave to grandchildren. I gave away at least five hundred books. I did have “giver’s remorse” over a few items, but in the main it feels great. I now have several bookcases with no books so I’m going to The Container Store and repurposing the shelves.

I found the rest of my teapot collection and put it in the house.

I still couldn’t get rid of the memorabilia from my daughters even though I never look at it.

I went through the piles of blank paper and meted it out to the grandkids. I got rid of my mother’s duck soup tureen that I’ve never used. I still couldn’t dump the photos that aren’t in albums and the Suns paraphernalia and photos. Maybe next year.

I divided the items up between my youngest son, who needs household stuff, and The White Dove, the resale store of Hospice of the Valley. I had to make two trips to each place.

I have a huge sack of papers that need to be shredded, and I’m only up to sorting tax year 2004. Last year I went to one of those free shred-a-thons but the line of cars was blocks long and I gave up. I’ll probably pay to have it done at a UPS or Staples store.

As I was going through old folders last night, I found a letter from an annuity company. I called this morning and I’ve got money I can surrender at a 50% discount or start taking as an annuity. Bonus!!

I found a box of puppets. I’ve always loved puppets and done shows with them starting when I was a little girl. I guess it’s time to pass them on to the grandkids.

Cleaning out the garage is like exercising. I make lots of excuses not to do it. I don’t like it while I’m doing it, but I do feel much better after it’s done.


Social Security Comes Through Again

February 6, 2017

I starting getting social security payments when I turned sixty because a friend told me I was entitled to them.

“You’re a widow,” she said.

“A widow? No, I’ve been divorced twice, not widowed.”

“How long were you married to Rob?” she asked.

“Twelve years. We divorced in 1982,” I replied.

“And he died,” she said.

“You know that. He died in the plane crash.”

“He’s not alive, so you’re a widow according to the Social Security Administration,” she insisted. “Make an appointment and check it out.”

So I did. After twenty0five years, I was shocked I still remembered his middle name and birthday. When I made the appointment, I was told to bring my marriage certificate, divorce decree and Rob’s death certificate, I had all that in my safety deposit box, which held no valuables, only important papers.

I went to the Social Security office on Tatum in north Phoenix and was shocked to find out that I was entitled to $1300 a month in widow’s benefits! That money enabled me to afford my cabin in Munds Park.

I visited the Social Security Office in Flagstaff a few years ago, as a “walk-in” (without an appointment,) to find out how much I would receive if I switched to benefits from my own account. The fellow told me if I waited until I was seventy, I would get a thousand dollars more a month. Wow!

Last summer I went back to the office in Flagstaff, again as a walk-in, to check on that. The woman told me I would get about five hundred dollars more a year. I was nonplussed. Why did I get such different answers? I told her I was still working part-time and made $15,000 so far, this year. She counseled me not to take my won benefits yet as the money I earned this year would replace years when I earned far less.

In January I decided to look into it further. I couldn’t use the handy dandy device online to figure out my benefits because I was already receiving benefits as a widow. I did the math by hand and to my reckoning I would get almost two hundred dollars a month more if I waited until age seventy. I made an appointment with the office in north Phoenix, just to make sure I was right.

As soon as I signed in my name was called and I was ushered out of the busy room where the walk-ins clustered. A fellow took me back to his space. It wasn’t even a cubicle. I could hear what the other clients were saying and vice versa. Good thing I wasn’t discussing anything embarrassing.

I was glad to hear that my math was correct. I would get almost two hundred dollars more a month if I waited a year.

“I guess I’ll wait,” I said. “I can make up the twenty-four hundred dollars in a short time.”

The fellow went to his keyboard and typed. He turned to me and said, “It will take you until you are seventy-six to make back the money.”

“Seventy-six?” I didn’t think my math skills were that bad.

“That calculation is based on the money you’re losing in the next year by not taking the extra benefit now.”

Aha. The light bulb went on. “Okay, sign me up.”

It took some time for him to enter everything into the computer, but I was patient. I’m going to get my increased benefit starting in February!

So, the moral of the story is, don’t trust information you get as a walk-in to the Social Security office. And even if you get information at an appointment in Flagstaff, it may be worth your while to get a second opinion in Phoenix.

The Women’s March in Phoenix

January 23, 2017


I joined twenty thousand like-minded souls and marched and met at the state capitol for a march to show our support of Women’s Rights. It was reassuring to know that in this very red and conservative state there are still plenty of people who share my views. I had been crushed by the election results and was still eating too much chocolate.

The crowd was quite diverse: babies, children, teens, young twenties and thirty-somethings, middle aged people and oldies but goodies like myself. The crowd was at least a fifth men, which was heartening to know that the term “feminist” is not restricted to women. There were also a great variation of skin tones and an LGBT contingent.

Denise, Laura, Richard and I were not at the front and could not clearly hear the speakers. We had arrived at 9:15 to get a parking spot. We stood for two hours before the march started, which is not a comfortable thing for us. At least we kept warm being in the middle of the crowd. The day was chilly, by Phoenix standards, about fifty-eight degrees, and a bit windy, but the rain held off.

When we finally got going, it was a very slow march. Among the sea of people it was impossible for us to tell just how large the crowd was.

I loved the creativity of the signs. A few were nostalgic.

There were NOW (the National Organization of Women) posters. I had been very involved in that organization in the seventies. Here’s a sample of what I saw:


A December Not to Remember

January 1, 2017

December not to Remember

A few good things happened in December but I’ll mention most of them at the end.
December began well. I attended training for my job in L.A. The training was not boring, mostly due to the trainer, Patty Walton. About fifteen hundred of us were housed in Marriotts near LA Live. It’s in the center of the city and was gussied up for the holidays. There was even a skating rink and a huge tree.


There were plenty of luscious restaurants and most had Happy Hour so we could eat and drink inexpensively and walk back to the hotel. The buffet breakfast at the Courtyard Marriott was the best I’ve eaten. The choices were stellar. The only drawback was that the room faced east and the sun streamed in and blinded me wherever I sat.
After I returned to Scottsdale, I arranged to see Grace, my former mother-in-law and spend the day with her. I drove out to my ex-husband’s home in Mesa in the Subaru Cross Trek I’d bought in July. I picked her up and headed for lunch with my youngest son Max and his family. We were on highway 60, just east of the Gilbert Road exit, when the car in front of me slowed and stopped. I slowed and stopped. The SUV behind me didn’t. He hit me in the rear and rammed my car into another lane of traffic that wasn’t stopped. We were hit again on the front fender of the driver’s side. It happened fast and I couldn’t believe it.
My Starlink activated and said, “You’ve been in an accident. Do you want me to call 9-1-1? I have your location.”
“Yes,” was all I could manage. I tried to start the car but it didn’t go anywhere. Then I noticed I wasn’t in “Park.” I put the gear into park and it started. I drove over to the side of the road, where I finally noticed two other cars.
“Are you hurt?” I asked Grace.
“Yes, I’m bleeding on my arms.”
I got out of the car and opened her door. We gingerly took of her sweater to reveal lots of blood where skin used to be.
I didn’t have any towels in the car, but I did have a pack of tissues in my purse.
The paramedics arrived and I let them take over. After they examined Grace, they said it was her choice as to whether to go to the hospital. She declined the invitation.
By this time the Department of Public Safety had arrived and taken her driver’s license, my license, car registration and insurance card. We were parked away from the others two cars involved in the accident.
I called my ex-husband to come get his mother. He was furious that she wouldn’t go to the hospital and I let them hash it out.
A tow truck came and boxed us in. I watched with sadness in my heart as my crumpled Subaru was loaded onto the flat bed. The tow truck driver gave me a card with the company’s name. I stayed with Grace until her son arrived.
We were parked very close to the wall so I had to deftly maneuver my way to the DPS officer’s SUV, passing the other people and their cars.
I asked for Grace’s license so she could leave. The officer gave it to me but said he wasn’t finished with the report and I’d have to stay until he was. I inched my way back to Grace, gave her the license and they left. I found out later that she went to the hospital to get the massive abrasions treated, a CT scan and some x-rays.
How was I going to get home? I texted my son to let him know that lunch was canceled. He doesn’t have a car, so he couldn’t solve my transportation problem. I called my friend Elissa, who lives in downtown Phoenix. Bless her heart, she agreed to pick me up. I told her to go to a fast food place near the exit as I didn’t want her to have to stop on the highway. The DPS officer agreed to drive me there.
I’m usually a convivial person, but I made no effort to talk to the two groups of people by their cars. I inched my way back to the officer. It was hot in the sun and I’d already drunk the bottle of water I’d taken from the car. The officer allowed me to sit in the back seat of his air-conditioned SUV while he finished the report.
He got out to give the reports to the other drivers. I think the guy who hit me got a ticket because he got more papers than me.
I called my insurance company and arranged for a rental car the next day. I told them I didn’t have a preference for a body shop. When I told that to a friend, she said to call the Subaru dealership and get a recommendation from them.

I was a bit sore the next day, but didn’t even need Tylenol. I called Grace and she was hurting. She took the painkillers they gave her at the hospital.
After I picked up my rental car, a Jeep Patriot that I didn’t care for, I called the Subaru dealership. They recommended ABC Collision, who had fixed my Honda when a driver had rear-ended my Honda five years ago.
I spent time on the phone with the claims people. That day and many days thereafter. And talking with the collision analyst. I was instructed to call the insurance companies of the other drivers to start claims. One of the numbers was not correct, but I used my librarian skills to look up the driver’s phone number. I called and left a message. Her husband called back with the policy number so I could call State Farm’s 800 number. Of course, the fellow who caused the accident had minimal insurance that wouldn’t cover all the damage to the vehicles.
I was out to Happy Hour with the usual group from my condo complex when the claims person called and said my car was a total loss. I hoped that would happen since the repair was up to $18,000 the last I’d heard, and with Car Fax it would be near impossible to ever sell the car if it was fixed.
So now I got to deal with the car loan and the GAP insurance. My car loan had recently been sold and was now being serviced by a different company, so I had two entities to deal with.
GAP insurance covers the difference between what is owed and what your insurance company pays for the totaled car. From my point of view, this is a good deal if you’re financing most of the car. (I got it on a new car I’d bought for my youngest son. He totaled it four months later and the loan was paid off.) GAP insurance can last as long as the loan, but you can also cancel and get a refund when the value of the car is more than the loan.
So, I had many companies wanting documents, claims numbers, police reports, etc. It was a part time job, in addition to the part time job I’d just started. And then I got I got pink eye and bronchitis that lasted two weeks.
Camelback Subaru helped expedite things and I was able to get a new car December 23. I got another Subaru Cross Trek, but a 2017 and cranberry red. I named her “Cranny.” So it’s Granny Annie’s Cranny.”

On December 28, my neighbor Joan was standing outside her garage and a truck backed into her. She fell forward on her face. She didn’t want to call 9-1-1. I took her to the emergency room. After four hours, they decided she needed to be in the ICU due to a subdermal hematoma. She also broke her pinky and her nose. She hurt.
She stayed in the hospital two days, but was only allowed to go home if she had someone stay with her 24/7. Donna stayed overnight and I did the daytime duty. On New Year’s Day, Joan’s daughter came over to stay for four days. She brought many meals already prepared. “Mails on wheels” she proclaimed. Joan is hurting and looks like a raccoon with two black eyes, but she’ll fully recover.
So I’d rather not remember December except for the following: my new granddaughter Madison came home from the hospital after being in neonatal ICU for four weeks; making holiday gifts with my granddaughters Abby, Savy and Charlotte;


Santa greeting Charlotte by name (because we’d just made her a Santa hat with her name glittered on it;)


celebrating Hanukkah with Nick’s family;


celebrating the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve with Charlotte (and Max and Liz;)


and getting my new queen-sized bed.
2017 is going be a lot better than 2016.


Graduating to a Queen-Sized Bed

December 23, 2016

Right after I graduated from college, I got married and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. We lived in an efficiency apartment and slept on a convertible couch. When we stepped up to a one bedroom apartment, we bought a double bed. I slept in that double bed until I moved to a new house with husband #2 who was six feet three inches tall. He bought a queen-sized bed. When the marriage ended twelve years later, he took the bed with him and I went back to the double bed that had a head and footboard.

Now I do have a queen-sized bed at my cabin and it seems enormous. My dog Louie sleeps in the place where someone else’s head would be. Sparky usually stays on the floor. I’d been thinking about buying a new bed for Scottsdale as the mattress was fourteen years old. (only used seven months a year since I spend the summer in Munds Park.)

Enter Mr. Hot Stuff. He’s six feet six inches. No way would he fit in my double bed. But then we broke up after Labor Day and I put the idea on hold.

When I mentioned the bed quandary to a good friend she said, “Having a double bed advertises that you’re not interested in a relationship.”

After much cogitating, I decided to get the queen-sized bed.

Low and behold, Mr. Hot Stuff is back in my life.

I went to downtown Phoenix to the Tuft and Needle store to try out their mattresses. Question: Why is the company called Tuft and Needle when the mattress is two kinds of foam with no sewing or tufting? There were several “bedrooms” which had doors so you could go into one and try out the mattress in private. It seemed a bit firm for me. When I spoke with a salesperson, she said that the mattress would conform to by body within two weeks. And I had one hundred days to decide if I liked it. If I didn’t, I let them know and they refunded my money and I would donate the mattress to a charity. Since the company is headquartered in Phoenix, the mattress could be delivered the next day. It came vacuum-packed in a box. It seemed a fool-proof plan, so I bought queen size one for $600.

I went home and immediately went on Amazon and ordered a box spring for $120. Since I have Prime, the shipping was free. I had bought my youngest son a bed last February and he’d never used the bedframe, so I picked that up.

Now the Tuft and Needle mattress doesn’t need a frame or box spring but I wanted the bed high enough that I wouldn’t have to tax me knees. There’s nothing wrong with my knees now, but I was thinking forward.

Imagine my surprise when the box spring came in a box that was tall and skinny. Hmm. It required assembly. I looked on the order and sure enough, it said “some assembly required.” Shoot. I have many talents but mechanical ability is not one of them.

I asked Mr. Hot Stuff to visit the Valley of the Sun and put the bed together. He was happy to leave the cold of Munds Park and help me out.

I had started my new job, so I worked in my office while he wrestled with the bed. I had a bad cold and was existing on hot tea with lemon and honey. He got the frame together in no time. When he opened the carton for the box spring, he called me into the bedroom. There were at least sixty steel pieces!

He had another cup of hot tea before he started on the task of putting it together. After we finished out tea, I retreated to my office.

After an hour, I ventured into the bedroom to check on his progress. He was sweating up a storm but excited because he’d figured it out.

“I’m building a steel box with steel slats. There’s a zippered cover that surrounds it.”

“Are you ready for a break?”

“I’ll take a break and a glass of water, but I want to finish the box spring before we have lunch.”

He worked for another half an hour and then called me in to help him put on the cover.

“This is a steel box. It’s never going to wear out.”

“Hmm, great,” I answered. Did box springs ever wear out?

We struggled but finally managed to encase the steel box with the fabric cover. It had a zipper. When would I ever need to wash a box spring cover?’

We went to lunch and then to a friend of mine’s basketball game. She’s the coach of a freshman girls’ team. Neither team played well, but our team lost.

We went back to my house to finish the job. He opened the box and we both tugged out the mattress. We positioned it on the box spring. The vacuum-packed mattress was only two inches thick. As soon as he cut the packaging, it morphed to eight inches thick immediately!

So, I now have a queen-sized bed. Sometimes Sparky sleeps on the bed.

The dogs have given the new mattress their stamp of approval.

What does this new bed portend for the future? I have no expectations.



Gals Glitter

November 28, 2016

Gals Glitter

           I’ve written before about the Art Glitter Factory and retail store in Cottonwood. It was founded by Barbara Trombley. She started making cards for retail stores and then invented the talcum-powder fine glitter in over 800 colors that’s sold internationally.

Imagine my delight when a retail store opened in downtown Scottsdale, two miles from my home. Weston is Barbara’s son. He runs the business with her and works out of the Scottsdale store. His girlfriend, Ariana, is also very involved. She uses glitter makeup and creates costumes, glitter shoes, and other projects. I stopped by to introduce myself as an enthusiastic user of the products. I’ve been appliqueing holiday fabric on aprons and glittering them. I also found some snowman fabric and glittered it and stretched it over painters’ canvasses. I left samples for them to display. I’ll add photos of them next week when I get home from training in LA.

As we talked, I got a brainstorm to give my friends an experience for the holidays instead of traditional gifts. Weston and I decided that ten to twelve would be the maximum capacity. I left to ponder the idea.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. The Glitter 101 class the store offers involves making a card, a butterfly, and a dragon. The latter two can be used to decorate boxes or cards. I wanted it to be less complicated and more holiday themed.

I went back to the Art Glitter store to see Weston and Ariana . I suggested that the projects for the party be a card, an ornament, a demonstration on how to use glitter in makeup and for each person to get a glitter tattoo. They agreed that my ideas were doable. I asked if it was okay to bring in food and beverages to set up on a separate table and they told me that was no problem. I was thrilled that Barbara herself was going to come down from Cottonwood and teach the class for my friends.

I bought round plastic ornaments at Michael’s. Then I made glitter card invitations for my friends. I decided to serve shrimp cocktail, homemade guacamole and chips, raw veggies and dips, homemade Oreo ruffles and tiny coffee cakes from Safeway as well as red and white wine, soda, and water.

I went to the Secret Villages on 26th Street and Indian School to get the cocktail napkins in their kitchen store. That place is amazing. It has a wide variety of napkins and mugs as well as all those kitchen gadgets for a much better price than at places like Sur La Table. I went to my favorite 99 cent store and bought glass mason jar mugs that had tops and straws so my friends could drink while working but wouldn’t get glitter in their drinks or spill their drinks on their projects. I wrote each person’s name in permanent marker on the mugs.

I was going to boil up the shrimp myself, but on the day of the party, Safeway was having a half-off sale on plated shrimp. Bonus! The party was from 5:30-7:30 p.m. I went early with Elizabeth, my son’s fiancé, to set everything up.


It went smashingly well. Ariana’s demonstration of glitter in makeup charmed us and several of us bought the glitter hue she used. I’ve used it several times and love it. It doesn’t bother my eyes at all, and I’m allergic to some makeup.

Barbara told us her success story and was an excellent teacher. I do have a few friends who consider themselves craft deficient, but they were pleasantly surprised at how well their products turned out.

At the end of the party, Weston put glitter tattoos on those who wanted them. I got giraffes.


Some of my friends didn’t know each other, but we all bonded during the party. Our ages or marital status didn’t matter at all.

I highly recommend giving your friends an experience rather than a physical gift for the holidays. Memories live on and who needs another thing?