We’ve been in Tucson now for nearly eight weeks – eight times as long as we’ve stayed anywhere during our Year on the Edges of America. It’s been a bit of a push-me-pull-you experience as we struggle to balance our always-on-the-go impulses with the fantasy of sheer relaxation, doing nothing and the proverbial “living in the moment.”
We’ve hiked and we’ve biked. I’ve spent wondrous hours reading (Michelle Obama’s book is revealing, heart-warming and inspirational; I’m currently enjoying Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing) and watching the hummingbirds at the feeder outside our picture window. Georges has spent hours working in the garage (our bikes have never been in better working order) – and watching the hummingbirds at the feeder outside our picture window.
We’ve visited old friends and made new ones. Mom flew in for the holidays. We went to a musical (The Music Man, or as Mom likes to call it, “Seventy-Six Trombones”) and saw a movie in a real theater. (The acting in Vice is outstanding, the actual movie not so much.) It’ll be another few weeks before we pack back up and head east to complete our yearlong loop around the country.
One of the most enjoyable activities has been revisiting my love of knitting and crocheting. Here’s a photo of what I did on my Christmas vacation.
Yep, those are booties (aka slippers) for my special ones – G (with the brown buttons), Mom (yellow) and Beloved Housesitter Bonnie. Here’s what G did with his.
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that bring the most pleasure.
I used to knit, crochet and quilt quite a bit. I crocheted a huge afghan for a high school boyfriend in the 1970s and knitted booties and hand-stitched quilts for friends having babies in the 1980s. All of this was in a previous life. I haven’t picked up knitting needles, a crochet hook or pieced fabrics in eons.
But I remembered the sense of peace and quiet accomplishment that comes with sitting in one place – enjoying music, a movie or simple conversation – while working easily and repetitiously with colorful yarn to create something soft and special for a loved one…. That’s why on my quick weekend trip home to Dallas in October to give a speech I dug out ancient handwritten bootie-making instructions to take back with me so I’d have them in Tucson for our down time here.
These notes, faded and barely legible, date to the early 1970s. They bring back memories of Grandma Lucy (Carolyn’s late grandma, actually, but on loan to me from time to time), who taught me to knit and crochet; Edythe (the late mother of my Mom’s best friend), who helped me perfect those skills; and Donna (a good friend from high school), with whom I spent hours knitting and crocheting as a teenager.
Fast forward to now and I salute good friend Debbie for sharing a better bootie pattern and showing me how to crochet reinforcement slipper soles. It must have been meant to be: On the way back to my house from hers on New Year’s Day after a 40-minute remedial crochet lesson, we were rewarded by a view of these haughty Harris hawks perched on a light post, which Debbie captured with her iPhone.
Of course, knitting isn’t all I did over Christmas vacation.
We attended a wonderful holiday party in Phoenix hosted by former Arizona Republic colleague Mike and his wife, Kris, where it was great fun to catch up with dozens of journalist friends from decades ago.
Here’s another view, from the other side of the backyard. That’s friend Athia, in the firelight, doing what we all do too often….
We celebrated dear friend Tom’s 60th birthday. Here’s a pic of the birthday boy at the head of the table, followed by a pic of Chef G and two of his new favorite sous chefs, José and Bill, and then one of just José and G in Chris’ fabulous kitchen.
The next day, Tom instructed G on the intricacies of being a Packer fan, no small feat given G’s insistence that real football is soccer….
Later, good friend Sharon hosted a warm and lovely dinner to reconnect us with one of my high school chums, Susan, and her husband, Brian.
For more tales of holiday activities, go here to read about our inability to stay in one place, or here to read about making more than 600 tamales or here to learn about a precious board game made by our grandchildren.
It was a cold New Year’s Eve when we bundled up to meet camping buddies Tom and Chris (and their four-legged family members Alvin, Jethro, Brigid and Olive) at an Airstream rally at Picacho Peak State Park some 40 minutes north of Tucson. See some of the Airstreams in the background?
Here’s a closeup of Mom, swaddled, for the Gag Gift Giveaway group meeting, with portable heater Brigid on her lap.
We retired shortly after Tom took these photos to warm up in their Airstream, named Hi-Ho Silver in honor of the Lone Ranger’s trusty steed. (Who knew this?) It was a delightful way to spend the last day of a departing 2018.
Mom’s back in Dallas now, and we’re readying for another jaunt into Mexico to visit friends near Guaymas….
I’m looking forward to the 600-mile round-trip road trek – plenty of knitting and crocheting time!