The Gal Pals Go Their Own Way

September 17, 2019

My first summer in Munds Park was in 2008. As a single person, I found it quite “coupled.” The couples were friendly with me but I was never invited for dinner or to accompany them for an outing. Eventually I found the “Gal Pals.”

I knew Donna because she lived across the street from me in Scottsdale. We hung out, but she was only there on weekends. We still have fun on Fridays, but she’s part of a couple now.

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Laura rented a home on Fairlane and I met her while walking my dogs. She was game to go to movies, music and hang out. I’m still friendly with her, but she hasn‘t rented in Munds Park for a few years.

Marian lived on Wintergreen. She knew Laura and went out with us. Marian and I became friends. That worked for a few years, but then she sold her house and started to travel the world.

Joan, another neighbor from Scottsdale, bought a place in Munds Park seven years ago. She was always up for an adventure, a meal out, or hanging out. She just sold her place so she won’t be around here.


Myrna hung out with us, too. She was always up for a good time. But she just sold her place and moved back to Scottsdale.


I guess it’s time to round up some more Gal Pals.





The Single Senior Does Fourth of July Weekend

July 8, 2019

I had my granddaughter Charlotte, turning seven, and her other grandmother Terry up for the Fourth of July Week.


One day we took a walk in the woods with my dogs. We entered the forest at Iron Springs Road. We sauntered along until we got to the sign that said the trail was a mile-long loop. I chose not to continue. I sat on a stump with Flossie lying at my feet. I inhaled the pine scent and reveled in the sound of the wind. I waited and waited. Finally I got a text from Terry that they had gone a mile and found another sign that said the hike was further on. They decided to head back but Pebbles, my eight-pound dog, was too tired to walk. Charlotte carried her all the way back to me. I carried her back to the cabin. She was fine after a drink of water.


We went into town. We had lunch at Oscar’s Fiesta Burrito. Then we went next door to the Henna and Threading establishment. Charlotte chose her design and got a henna tattoo on her arm.When we returned to the cabin, we put up the Fourth of July decorations.


Wednesday night we went to the Pinewood Country Club for dinner. I had matches and a candle that said “7.” I gave it to our waitress so she could decorate the Pinewood Cookie desert I ordered for after dinner. The desert came out and we sang “Happy Birthday” to Charlotte, but the pan and cookie were so hot, they melted the candle so Charlotte couldn’t blow it out. She loved the desert.

On Thursday Charlotte donned her red, white and blue dress and I put on my new t-shirt that said, “The Single Senior.” After breakfast at the Pinewood restaurant, Charlotte and I rode the Pinewood News float in the parade.


We went to the kids’ carnival and then home for lunch.

The three of us went back to the Pinewood Country Club. Terry took Charlotte to the bounce houses and I got her a cotton candy. Then we all went swimming for a while, listening to the great music of J-Bad Band.

We went to the cabin to take showers and off to a barbeque. We were too tired to seek out a fireworks display so we watched “The Capital Fourth” on PBS to see fireworks.

They left on Friday and my cabin was suddenly quiet. After three weeks of grandchildren, I luxuriated in the solitude. I missed them but I was exhausted. I rested most of the day.

On Saturday, I went into Flagstaff for a writers’ meeting sponsored by the Flagstaff Public Library and learned how to do a podcast. After that, I drove to the Oakmont restaurant at the Continental Country Club because my favorite band, The Mother Road Trio, was performing. I wore their t-shirt which I had embellished with glitter. They loved it! Unfortunately, they were the opening act for a Journey cover band. I wasn’t up to a five hour concert so I bought their new CD instead.

I went back to the Pinewood Country Club and hung out with friends and listened to the band Boomer. My last stop that night was Beavfest. I always appreciate the sounds of Supertrain, the band that plays that event. Fairlane Drive was packed with people enjoying the entertainment.


Sunday was a back-to -normal day. I played pickleball early and read the Sunday Arizona Daily Sun and The New York Times. Joan and I went to Agee’s for lunch and I read the rest of the day.

At no time did I feel lonely. I am lucky to have such a great family and close friends.

What’s a Full Life?

July 8, 2019

Occasionally, I feel envious of couples. I see them dancing together, giving each other that special smile. Or I’m not considered fore a dinner party because I’m a single. Or when I see a couple my age holding hands as they walk along. I know that not all couples are doing well, but on the surface, it looks that way. I would like someone to hug, who would enfold me in his arms and give me a soft kiss. But at my age, it’s seems to be difficult to find someone who doesn’t need a nurse or a purse.

My mind wanders and I find myself glad that I can eat ice cream for breakfast or down gallon of tea and Oreos while I write without anyone giving me a disapproving look.

After my volunteering experience in Tanzania, I realized I need to appreciate what I have:  my health, financial security, writing full time, close relationships with friends, my siblings, children and grandchildren. I belong to two book clubs which provide intellectual stimulation. The combination of my Fitbit and gummies (thanks to my Medical Marijuana Card) allow me to finally get a good night’s sleep. Who knew that all those years I may have been dreaming I was awake!

One of my favorite joys in life are my four granddaughters. Abby, age twelve, visited for a  week. She made her bed, did dishes, and I paid her to do my chores (watering the garden and picking up dog poop.) We made Oreo truffles,


bowled at Cliff Castle Casino


played Tenzi and Rumimikub


and went to see The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Toy Story 4. She used concrete to make a paving stone, braided lanyards and keychains, and glittered shoes and socks at the Art Glitter Factory in Cottonwood.


She swam for at least an hour every day. We ate out one meal a day, at the country club, Your Pie, Oscar’s Fiesta Burrito, and Johnny Rockets. She watched TV and read before going to sleep.

The next week I had Savy, age 8. It was a bit more work. She got started right away on crafts. She painted a picture, made wind chimes, bead and feather necklaces. She set up a stand, on the road in front of my house, to sell her crafts.

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It was much easier to do my weekly laundry trek to Flagstaff with her hauling bundles. She enjoyed taking the loads out of the washer, putting them in the dryer, and using the card to add minutes to the dryer.


She did a great job of folding the towels, too. Together we made a fleece blanket for her bed of girl scout material.


We also went bowling glittering, and to see a movie.

My life, full of friends and family, give me joy.





Snow and Solitude

May 29, 2019


           I moved up to Munds Park on Wednesday May 15. It was chilly but not too cold. Then it snowed on Sunday. . . and then it snowed a lot more on Wednesday night and Thursday. It reminded of my college days in Rochester, New York. The university dug tunnels underneath the buildings on the Quad so we didn’t have to go out in the weather to change classes. I took lifesaving for PE. After that class, I’d shower and braid my long hair. The braids would freeze as I walked to the Student Union to check my mail.

It’s great to be retired and be able to look at the snow without having to be at work at a specific time.


           My new dogs were fascinated to watch the snow fall. They were not thrilled with walking in the snow. When I attempted to put them in my backyard to do their business early in the morning, they took one step onto the snow, turned around, and ran back into the house.


           I’ve been here alone. I haven’t been dating anyone lately. The Trucker put me off that for a while. For those of you who don’t read my blog regularly, I’ll do a quick recap. I met the trucker in February and we seemed to hit it off. He had a bad knee and a heart problem, but he was addressing those problems.

He also had financial issues, but he was self-supporting so I didn’t worry about that immediately. He wanted to live with someone and I was emphatic that I was unwilling to do that.

During the first three weeks, he gave me foot massages and compliments.

           However, for my birthday, he did not give me a card or a present. I took him to a Spring Training game that the alumni association of Case Western Reserve treated us to tickets and a buffet lunch. He did buy me one beer at The Dirty Dogg Saloon to celebrate.

           He talked about not renewing the lease for his apartment and moving into a ward at a VA home. He had previously told me he was working Lyft so he could qualify for a mortgage. He the money for the down payment. He’d been an independent driver, not a Teamsters’ member.

He started stopping by after his work as a Lyft driver and I would feed him dinner. He would go straight home after dinner because he didn’t see well at night.

           We had a date to go to the movies at six p.m. one Saturday night, and he called me at seven-thirty p.m. to tell me he wasn’t feeling well. I felt stood up.

I had a wine and cheese party as a fundraiser for Global Volunteers. I figured it would be a good time for him to meet my friends. He was a no-show. He didn’t call, either.

When we spoke the next day, he said he was too sick to attend the party. Then he proceeded to tell me about a fight he had the day before with his son when they were working on a car. Whoa. He just told me he was too sick to come to the party (or even call me,) but he was well enough to work on his son’s car?

I thought it over and decided that he wasn’t someone I wanted to date. Too many issues and not thoughtful enough. I made a date for dinner to end the relationship. When we were in the car, on the way to the restaurant, he asked me to investigate apartments in Scottsdale for him.

I said “no.”

He replied, “Why not? You’re not working.”

I told him I was writing, but I was fuming inside that to him my time wasn’t worth anything but his was. I couldn’t break up with him at the restaurant because, although he wore hearing aids, he still had problems hearing people. I had to say things twice and practically shout them.

I waited until we got back to my house and gave the news. He didn’t argue. He got up and left. I was relieved.

As I sat in my living room in Munds Park, with a blanket of the dogs on my lap to keep me warm, I relished watching the snow fall, reading, watching Netflix, and eating Oreos and artichokes.

I do enjoy my own company. I hope to meet a special guy, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m happy with my life.

Happiness is a Dog Rescue

April 4, 2019



              My sweet dog Louie died in December. I had been looking for a companion for him when he suddenly took a turn for the worse. After he died, I thought I would wait awhile before I got a new dog. But something gnawed at the back of my mind.

              I’d seen two dogs on a rescue sight who needed forever homes. They were a mother and daughter duo. I hadn’t considered adopting them when I had Louie, but now that he was gone, I thought about it. I usually have had two dogs at a time. I just hadn’t gotten around to getting Louie a companion after Sparky had died eighteen months before.

              The two dogs were being fostered by a cat rescue organization in Gilbert, The Cat’s Meow. I filled out an application on line and then went to see the dogs at the weekly adoption event at The Pet Store in Gilbert. When I got to the store, the director had gone home to get the dogs. I went to the MacDonald’s on the corner, had lunch and waited. When I went back, the darling dogs were in a crate. It was love at first sight.

              The organization hadn’t received the application I’d done on line, so I filled out another one. Then the director did a personal interview with me. I passed. The next step was that she wanted to see my house, to make sure it was safe for the dogs.

              We loaded the crate and dogs and some paraphernalia in the back of her SUV and she followed me home. We brought the dogs in while she inspected my house. The back gate to my neighbor’s patio was wobbly and she was concerned the three-year-old mother dog, a runner, could get out. I found some material and closed it up, knowing I would have to replace the gate as that is an escape route in case of fire. The mesh on my front gate was coming off, so I had to repair that.

              Despite these defects, she decided to let me adopt the dogs. I paid the donation fee of $400. She had called the dogs Flora and Petal. I renamed that Flossie and Pebbles. Flossie is three, about eleven pounds, and looks like a Jack Russel terrier/shih-tzu mix. Her daughter, Pebbles, looks like she has some poodle, probably her father.

              The dogs were crate and doggie-door trained. They settled in right away. Pebbles tends to bark and is a scaredy cat. She’s finally coming to me when I call her. Flossie has been trained a bit. She knows to sit on command. Pebbles loves her crate since she is addicted to treats and she gets one when it’s time for them to go in there. Pebbles, only five pounds, doesn’t take commands. She thinks she can by on her cuteness.

              They don’t sleep with me, although I do take them up on the bed as I’m watching the late news. And when they wake up in the morning, I take them onto my bed for more petting and attention.

              Joan, my neighbor, loves them too. The first few weeks I had them, I was working ten hour days. Joan came over and gave them attention while I was gone. The love her as much as she loves them.

Of course I had to dress the smaller one, Pebbles, for Valentine’s Day.


              The dogs are happy to lay together on a chair in my study while I work at home.


              I’m sure they’ll love Munds Park. I have no doggie door, so they’ll get more walks. And I have a bigger fenced yard. And there are plenty of comfy chairs to snooze in and couches to lay on top of the backs.


The Trucker

April 4, 2019



I was still seeing Mr. GQ, but it was casual, a friend with benefits. Why? He’d been separated from his wife for more than eight years but still married, and he rented a room in his home to his ex-girlfriend. Definitely not someone with have a full-fledged relationship. I had decided a few months ago that I did want a long-term, committed relationship.

I joined a different dating website, Bumble. Both men and women sign up and put up profiles, but the women are the ones who swipe left or right. If a woman has indicated interest, then the man can message her through the app. I swiped right quite a bit and received a few emails. One intrigued me and we made a date to meet.

We met at a Starbucks. The day after Valentine’s Day. He looked mostly like his photo, but better. He limped. He told me he had one knee replaced last fall and was having the other one done April 1. We talked for more than an hour. He seemed to be self-supporting and not obviously crazy, so I made a second date with him.

Our second date was for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I met him there as I’m careful about letting a new fellow know my last name or where I lived. He had been an EMT for ten years but switched to driving along-haul truck because his brother was making much more money doing that. He only stopped driving when the truck had a chemical spill a year ago and he went to the hospital. He hadn’t been to a doctor in many years. Of course, they found things that needed fixing:  his knees, cataracts in both eyes, and he needed a pacemaker and a filter for his heart.

Now he drives for Lyft temporarily, to pay off a credit card. He worked everyday, at least nine hours a day. He showed a good work ethic, but he probably hadn’t planned for retirement.

Like the zookeeper, he was a lonely guy. I immediately put up parameters. I still wasn’t interested in getting married or living with someone. Since he was a considerate fellow, he took my boundaries seriously. He’s always concerned if he’s crowding me or asking to see me too much.

He was a Republican, but a moderate one. We had had many discussions on current events that showed our differences, but always with respect for each other’s opinion. I got him reading The New York Times, so he may change his point of view.

I liked his company. He was easy to be around. He didn’t need to be entertained. He didn’t take himself too seriously. He had lots of funny anecdotes about his past. And he liked to listen to live music and dances as best he could with a bum leg.

He was a considerate lover. He had the same performance problems as most men his age but he wasn’t apologetic or concerned about it..

And he was a good sport. He wore suspenders so I bought him St. Patrick Day suspenders and a matching bow tie. On that day, which was my birthday, we went to a spring training game and to The Dirty Dogg Saloon to hear Lane Change, a band that plays at The Pinewood County Club. However, he didn’t buy me a card or gift. Hmmm.

He liked and got along with my new dogs. The dogs sleep in a crate at night. When I’m alone, they happily go into their crate and are silent. However, when The Trucker sleeps over, they make noise. One of them whines intermittently.

I got the idea to buy marrow bones, cook them before bedtime, and give them to the dogs when they went into their crates. My plan didn’t work out. We could hear them gnawing for quite some time.

Was he a candidate for a committed relationship? I thought so at first, being the overly optimistic person I am. After six weeks, no. He already started taking me for granted.

I had a wine and cheese party as a fundraiser for Global Volunteers. He was supposed to be there. I figured it would be a non0threatening way to meet my friends.

The night before, we were supposed to go to a six o’clock movie. He called me at seven-thirty to say he was sick.

He didn’t show up for the wine and cheese party or call. He called me the next day and didn’t mention it. He told me about an argument he had with his son when they worked on his son’s car. I brought it up and he said he was sick. He supposed he should have called to tell me so. He apologized. I guess he forgot that he’d just told me he worked on a car, so he couldn’t have been that sick.

The guy had MRSA, a bad knee, heart issues, and an infection on his lips. He had serious financial problems. And problems with his son.

We arranged to go out to dinner the next week. He came over and just talked about himself. I guess the considerate guy was a mask for the first few weeks. He said he wanted to move to Scottsdale and would I look for apartments for him?

I said, “no.”

He said, why not? You’re not working.”

I told him I was writing.

I couldn’t discuss the issues at dinner because he’s hard of hearing, even though he wears a hearing aid. I had to say everything twice, and loudly.

When we got back to my house, I said, “this relationship is not working for me. You have financial issues, health issues and personal issues. I want someone who can focus on a relationship.”

He said, “Okay.”

He gathered his things and left.

I wasn’t sad. I was relieved.


Losing Louie

February 3, 2019


I had my dog Louie for six years. I got him when he was about eight. He’d been abandoned twice before I adopted him. His name when I got him was “Huegy” pronounced “Hu-gee.” I changed his name to Louie so it would sound similar. I joked that he was “Louie the Lump” because he was so laid back. He was happy to sit on my lap for hours.

I shared Louie with my friend Joan Roff. She took care of him when I went out of town. While I was away in Tanzania in October, Louie didn’t eat much. I took him to the vet when I got back. He had lost three of his twelve pounds. Blood tests showed his kidneys were good but he had a low-level infection and had lost some liver function. The vet put him on antibiotics, a liver supplement and some gooey, smelly food for anorexic dogs to try to get him to eat. Who knew there are anorexic dogs?

The next week, while I was babysitting Lilah, a friend’s dog, Louie ate her food. Was he really that p8icky and stubborn that he hadn’t eaten because he wanted a different brand of food? Of course, I switched brands immediately. He ate for a while but tended to throw up what he ate.

In December, he got worse. He hardly ate anything and threw up what he did. However, it seemed as if he’d gained weight. One night, near the end of December, Louie slept on my neck while I held his shaking legs. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. I had Joan watch him the next day. By the time I got back, he could barely walk to his water bowl.

Since it was Saturday night, I rushed him to an emergency vet clinic. They did some tests ($500 worth) and took a lot of fluid from his stomach. They told me there were three possibilities, none of which had a good outcome. They could put him in intensive care to hydrate him, but it would only buy him a month and he wouldn’t be comfortable. So, I decided to put him to sleep. I cried and held him before, during and after the procedure.

When I adopt a pet, I know that the animal will probably die before me, unless I get a parrot or tortoise. Intellectually that makes sense, but inner turmoil and hurt is guaranteed.

I’ve had animals, mostly dogs, for the past thirty years. I hadn’t lived alone with out a dog.

It was too quiet around the house. My small condo has a pall over it and a chill I can’t get rid of.


Safaris in Tanzania

December 24, 2018


I went on safaris on both weekends I was in Tanzania. Ruaha Hilltop Lodge managed the tour. We got the package for an amazing price! The first weekend it was $420 each for the four of us Safari Sisters: Barbee, Anna, Claire and Annie. The second weekend it was $380 each for the five of us. It included transportation from Ipalamwa to the Lodge, two nights lodging, all our meals, a full day of safari on Saturday and the trip back to the village. You can reach the Ruaha Hilltop Lodge at or call +255 (0) 262701806 or +255 (0) 794 726709.

On Friday after lunch, a four wheel drive vehicle with a driver, Isaac, and guide, Vianney, picked us up in Ipalamwa and took us on the five hour drive to the lodge. We were met at the lodge by staff members with hot towels, tamarind juice and freshly popped popcorn. We went on the top veranda to see the miles-long view of the savannah. I shared a bottle of wine. When we went up the steep hill to our rooms at the top, I had to stop two-thirds of the way up. I was coughing up a storm. I continued to cough as I unpacked and went back down to the lodge for dinner. The sweet corn soup managed to stop the coughing. I was embarrassed at my lack of fitness! Barbee is only two years younger than me, but she’s much more agile.


Barbee on the Lodge terrace

My room



The rooms at the lodge were quite nice.


I took photos of the gorgeous sunrise before we had breakfast at seven the next morning. Off we went in our safari vehicle with our guide Moses and our driver Patrick. On our way to Ruaha National Park, we saw a black-backed jackal, warthogs, and impalas.


The park consisted of more than 20,00 square kilometers as well as a WMA (Wildlife Management Area) around the park. The animals were protected in both the park and the WMA. In former times, people could get licenses to kill the animals that were outside the park. Now If animals strayed into the Masai villages, park rangers bring them back and the government paid for any damages the animals did.


Once inside the park we saw many zebras, greater and lesser kudus, giraffes, elephants, baboons, trees whose flowers looked like toothbrushes, colorful lizards, and female lions. We thought the lions were sleeping, but one got up and came right for our vehicle. Moses told us to be silent. The lion calmly walked past us and curled up behind the tree for a nap. I learned that African elephants cannot be trained to work in a circus because they are too aggressive. Their ears are very large and shaped like the continent of Africa.


I loved the boabob trees. Boabob is the Arabic word for “many seeds” because of the seeds in the fruit. The fruit was high in vitamin C so people with HIV/AIDS ate a lot of it. The trees were hollow and there is water in the bottom which has minerals. Pregnant elephants liked it. The tree is also known as the “Tree of Life.” Moses told us a legend about the tree. God made the animals before he created trees. The animals asked for some shade from the sun. God gave every animal a different tree to plant. The hyena was lazy and just threw his tree upside-down over his shoulder. When bare of leaves, the tree did look upside-down. The seeds of the fruit were crushed and used as a coffee substitute. Elephants strip the bark and chew it. Bees make huge hives inside the tree.

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Elephants strip the bark from all the trees. Then the beetles do their damage. After the tree falls over, other animals take up residence.

We saw many nests of the tiny grey-capped warbler. The male builds several nests and then the female chooses the one she wants to use. All the nests have two openings so if an enemy comes in the front door, the bird can escape out the back door.

We stopped at a rest stop and had the boxed lunches from the lodge. We were able to watch elephants as we ate.


After lunch we saw a white-backed vulture in a tree. We saw a savannah buffalo alone, lying under a tree. Moses said that it was probably dying as they leave the herd when it’s their time.


We saw more giraffes, elephants, families of baboons, more lions.


We were hot and needed a break, so we stopped at the Park Rangers’ bar and had Cokes, orange sodas and beers. We got back in our vehicle and saw crocodiles and hippos.

Anna was not feeling well on Sunday. It was very hot in the four-wheel-drive vehicle even though the air-conditioning on high. After an hour, we almost passed out from the heat until I suggested we open the windows. Lo and behold it was cool outside!!




We stopped to eat our box lunch off the road to Ipalamwa. Claire picked some eucalyptus leaves so Anna could inhale the steam from them. Isaac picked some other leaves he thought would work even better. A man came up the road and proceeded to eat the leaves.

The second weekend I went on Safari with Adrienne, Heather, Felicia and Pam. It started to rain outside of Iringa. By the time we got to the Danish Lutheran guest house and restaurant for our bathroom break, it was pouring. We got soaked just going to and from the building. The rain continued off and on the dirt road on the way to Ruaha. A herd of cattle darted across the road. In front of us. We screeched to a halt just a few feet from the animals. The horror in their eyes mirrored my own. Close call!


We continued down the rutted road. Suddenly, we heard a big bang. Isaac, the driver, immediately pulled over to the side of the road to inspect the tire. It was destroyed. We had to get out, in the pouring rain. We all had raingear either back in our rooms in Ipalamwa or at the bottom of our luggage.  Isaac had a hard time getting the jack to work. After a while, Vianney gave us a tarp to hold over our heads, but we were already soaked.



Adrienne was the only one with dry feet as she had chosen to wear boots, which I had told her earlier was unnecessary. She was the smart one. Instead of complaining, all of us turned to laughter, it was amazing that we cracked jokes and talked about hanging underwear on clotheslines. After more than half an hour the tire was changed, the ruined tire put away, our bags taken from the seat and returned to the back of the vehicle, and we loaded ourselves back in. I brought out the shortbread cookies and they were demolished in no time.

When we got to the lodge, they came out with hot, wet towels to welcome us. This gave us another reason to laugh.

We signed into the hotel, and Annie, Pam and Felicia went to their rooms to change their clothes as they were wet through their underwear. Adrienne were ecstatic to hook up to the Internet and spent the rest of the evening making calls, answering emails and downloading television programs. The delicious peanut soup hit the spot to warm us up s we could enjoy our dinner.

The next morning, we didn’t see many animals during the morning. We stopped early to eat.


Instead of taking photos this time, I used binoculars to see the animals even closer. We saw guinea fowl, the school in the park, a herd of savannah buffalo that took fifteen minutes to pass the road we were on.


We saw lots of elephants. Moses pointed out an impala carcass up a tree. We circled around many times and finally saw a leopard under a bush. We saw two groups of lions, mostly females with a few immature males. One lion got up and headed for our vehicle. We sat silent and transfixed. The lion passed us and lay down two feet in front of the bumper. We backed up and got away safely.


The sausage tree is called that because the pods of seeds hang like hug sausages. We stopped at a bush and Moses, our guide, snapped a twig off a bush. Adrienne demonstrated how it could be used as a toothbrush. I took photos of the savannah.


We again stopped at the Park Rangers’ bar for sodas and beers. There was quite a crowd watching a soccer match. Some of the rangers were playing “mancala,” one of the oldest known games still being played.


We finished our safari by seeing lots of hippos in the river under a bridge.


On the way back to the lodge, it started raining. We saw an intense rainbow. We saw the whole rainbow from the veranda of the lodge.


Adrienne downloaded the song The Rains in Africa and took a video of lodge staff members and me to dancing to the music.

We enjoyed the sunset and another delicious meal.



Thank you, Tanzania

November 25, 2018




I spent three weeks in October at the small village of Ipalamwa in Tanzania, Africa. It was life-changing. The village is in the highlands, at 6000 foot elevation. The vistas were gorgeous. I went during the dry season and saw no mosquitos or bugs. The temperature during the day was 70-75 degrees and 55-60 in the evenings. Perfect! Since Tanzania is south of the equator, it was spring.


The accomodations were quite nice. There’s a whole complex that includes the clinic, the guest house for volunteers, staff housing and a kitchen and dining room that also serves as a venue for family workshops.



Above are the Global Volunteers greenhouse where they grow seedlings for families and food for the staff and volunteers. At right is Gracie, demonstrating the hand-washing station.

Global Volunteers has a very ambitious project there called RCP, Reaching Children’s Potential: the first 1000 days. Many of the children in Tanzania are stunted in growth and intellect due to poor nutrition. Global Volunteers has built a maternity clinic which also serves the community’s other health concerns. They started with eighty families and are now up to 274 families. The mothers attend workshops on Hand washing, Nutrition, Child Development, Breastfeeding and Family Planning. Hand-washing stations, made from PVC pipes, are installed and the families report no more stomach upsets or diarrhea. Global Volunteers also provides porridge with extra nutrients to make sure the mothers’ breastmilk is nutritious and to the children of the household to prevent stunting. Caregivers visit the families every week to check on their health and to reinforce the information from the workshops

I was part of a Global Volunteers team there. I taught kindergarten in the mornings and did home visits with the Global Volunteers caregivers in the afternoons. Kindergarten is two years, for five and six-year olds. They must pass a test to go to Standard 1. There were 107 students in the kindergarten and only one teacher! The three Global Volunteers, along with a translator, held classes for the fifty-five five-year olds on the soccer field. We read books, practiced numbers and letters and taught them singing games like “The Hokey Pokey” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” The school seemed to have no supplies or books for these students. The children didn’t have any toys so they made do with sticks and things they found. A soccer ball was made from strips of old fabric.



The women wore traditional dress, which is material draped around them. They used the material to carry their babies and toddlers on their backs or against their chests.



The people of the village were Christians. There were three churches in this small village:  Lutheran, Catholic, and Pentecostal. I went to a Lutheran service. I couldn’t understand it since I don’t speak Swahili, but the three choirs were fantastic.


The home visits were quite a revelation. I was concerned that I would be intruding, but I was warmly welcomed into homes. The caregivers were all college educated and spoke fluent English. They translated my words into Swahili for the mothers and their words into English for me. The houses were small and made of bricks that were fashioned from the red dirt and baked in outside ovens. The roofs were either thatched, tin or a stronger metal. The floors of the home were packed dirt. Most of the kitchens were in another building because they used word-burning stoves. The government had declared that all homeowners had to replace their old outhouses with new ones that flushed and hooked up to a septic tank. Not very many of the villagers had yet complied.


The homes were sparely furnished. I usually sat on a small bench that was no higher than nine inches. I was impressed that I was able to get up and down without assistance.

When I asked mothers what they thought was the most useful part of the project, most of them said either the hand-washing station or the seminars.


Global Volunteers doesn’t have enough money to give all the families the nutritious porridge. I went to several homes where the two year-olds weighed less than 20 pounds! It costs $25 to feed a family the porridge for a month. If you’re in a giving mood this season, I suggest that you donate to the project at and earmark the donation for porridge in Tanzania. They also need volunteers, no experience necessary. I highly recommend it. Volunteers pay for their own transportation to Tanzania and a fee that covers the cost of all meals and the guesthouse they stay in. All that is deductible on income taxes as a charitable donation. Go to for more information.


Ticking another item off my Bucket List

October 1, 2018

           I haven’t written a bucket list, the things I want to do before I die. I just know some things that would be on one. I want to jump on a trampoline and dunk like the Suns mascot, the Gorilla. I haven’t worked on that one yet and doubt I’ll be able to pull it off.

           I’m leaving October 2 for Tanzania to work with Global Volunteers, a non-profit, non-sectarian group. I’ll be gone almost a month. I’m flying from Phoenix to London and then on to Amsterdam. I stay there for two nights. Then I take a flight to Dar el Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, with one stop at Mt. Kilimanjaro. I stay overnight in the capital and take a 90 minute plane ride to Iringa. Global Volunteers will pick me up in a jeep and drive me three hours, over bumpy roads, to Ipalamwa, where I will spend three weeks either teaching English or doing home visits about hygiene and nutrition.

           I’ve already scheduled my ticket to The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, as well as a canal cruise. People keep asking me if I’m going to go to the Red Light District. I have no interest in seeing partially-clad women in windows.

           In Tanzania, I’ll be working Monday through Friday. Global Volunteers’ motto is “making peace one person at a time.” The project is to change the stunted growth of the children in one generation. There will be a team of us, but I don’t know how many. You pay to volunteer, and this payment covers your room and board, about $2500 for three weeks in most of the 42 countries where they have projects. You also pay your own transportation to and from the project. The bonus is that you get to deduct these expenses as a charitable gift on your income taxes.

Global Volunteers built a guest house in Ipalamwa with running water. Usually I opt for a double room, so I can get to know one of the volunteers well, but this time I paid a few hundred dollars extra to have a single room. The last time my granddaughter slept over, she told me I snored. I didn’t want to interrupt a team member’s sleep.

I’ll be going on two safaris, one on each of the weekends. I bought binoculars and the new iPhone Max for its camera to better enjoy my experiences. I’ve always wanted to see elephants and giraffes in their natural habitat. That was on my bucket list.

I went to Passport Health to check that I had the shots I needed. I did, so no pokes. I must take malaria pills while I’m there. They also sold me a compound that you spray on your clothes and let them air dry. This will make the clothes mosquito repellent for five washings.

I was warned that it’s a traditional community and that I should wear loose clothing, nothing tight on the chest or rear end. I went to Old Navy and got long-sleeved cotton blouses and free-flowing pants.

I wanted to send a library of children’s books ahead of time to the village, but there’s no mail service or UPS or FedEx. Instead I’m bringing some of my favorite books and a world atlas to show where I’m from. I bought extra poundage for the plane ride in Tanzania as Global Volunteers asked me to bring medical supplies. I was a bit surprised when the package arrived and took up half of my suitcase!

I’ll be incommunicado. There’s no Internet or phone service. I decided not to bring my computer and write longhand.

I’m nervous and excited about my trip. I’ll write my next column on how it went.