Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cute Cowboys, Runaway Dogs and Crazy Shoppers

Like I said. There's always excitement that lies ahead when we go to Cave Creek, AZ to Camp Big Sal.

Last night I went to my first rodeo. I don't know if you can tell from the photo or not, but this big bull was really bucking "Bubba" right out of the gate. It was great fun, and we saw lots of cute cowboys!

Tonight, we were getting ready settle in for a quiet night with dinner outside by the camp fire. As we opened the patio door, both dogs shot out like a bat out of you know what. Before we knew it, they were gone -- as fast as Greyhounds. The worst part is that it was dark. Normally it would be ok, but in Zona after dark, there are lots of wild animals like javelinas, coyotes, road runners, bobcats, mountain lions and more. Big Sal's two black labs could be in serious trouble, especially the new puppy.

We all split up with flash lights and walked and walked and walked, calling their names, but to no avail. After about 30 minutes, here they came racing home from two different directions, panting, tongues hanging down to their knees and tails a waggin'. I'm not sure what we would have done had we not found them. I don't even want to think about it. They are safe and sound. (So are we for that matter! We could have been a mountain lion small snack.)

The other yearly excitement at Camp Big Sal is the discount shoppers we encounter. Every year, we travel down to "Last Chance" -- the only Nordstrom outlet in the country. If you're a serious bargain hunter, this deep, deep discount store is for you. But, you have to be willing to "get dirty" and handle the most experienced and aggressive shoppers who may steal merchandise from your shopping cart -- to get that $2.97 pair of cool earrings, the $29.99 pair of soft and toasty Ugg slippers or the $39.99 Juicy Couture handbag. Yes, imagine a store full of sly and cagey women. But it's well worth the trip if you're after great inexpensive loot.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Zona" Diary January 28th

When things get really stressful, there's nothing better than the mountains in the Southwest.

This week, I'm on my annual trip with the girls at "Camp Big Sal" in Cave Creek, a sleepy little hideaway about 40 miles north of Phoenix. Well, it's not really a "camp". Rather, it's an adobe getaway belonging to our friends Mark and Sally, nestled into the hills of Black Mountain. Big Sal is Sally's nickname, and we named it "camp" so that people think we're actually roughing it or participating in some sort of fitness camping activity. But, we're not. Luckily, we have beds with sheets, running water, hair dryers and home-cooked food.

Each year, there's always some type of excitement that occurs along the way. Two years ago, there was a large animal that casually sauntered onto our patio and laid down to bask in the sun as we finished breakfast. Turned out, it was some sort of bobcat or maybe even mountain lion (that's my vote) that could have made a meal out of all of us and Sally's two black labs. Subtle panic set in, and my heart was in my throat, but trust me, you don't move quickly around those animals. We survived.

This year (so far that is), the excitement for me occurred on the airplane. While waiting on the runway for 30 minutes of de-icing prior to take-off, I got to chat with my seat mate, who was a young woman from Phoenix. I came to learn that she just had a heart attack in Indianapolis (where we were departing) while visiting her family -- and actually "coded" in the emergency room (yes, her heart stopped). Pretty scary stuff, especially when flying alone -- and sitting next to me. The potential of accumulating ice on our wings suddenly became a secondary thought in my mind. Now, I was now going over the steps of CPR, just in case. (next time I won't talk to my seat mate)

Midway through the flight, she put her head down on her tray table and nudged me. "I'm not feeling so well. I am very light-headed, she said." (great) So, she gets up and goes to the back of the plane in search of the "powder room". She then returns with a flight attendant and a big tank of oxygen with a mask. Yikes!

Naturally, half the plane was gawking at our row. But, it all worked out. No medical emergency, luckily.

For now, that's as exciting as my life gets. Thank goodness (considering the events of the past few months).

As I puttered along early this morning toiling on the elliptical machine at the gym, I looked out the window and admired the view (no bad view in Cave Creek!). The sun was up, and the mountains still had a faint veil of cloud cover, with fog rising slowly. Wow, this is true, breathtaking beauty I thought to myself. Now I understand why people who live in the Southwest don't ever want to come back. It's like being on another planet.

These mountains are a great haven and can make you forget about the worst stress in your life, if even just for a few minutes.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Paybacks stink.

When I was really young and then into my college years, my friends and I loved to make prank phone calls. While we thought it was hilarious to disturb others or wake people up in the wee hours of the night (probably scaring them half to death), now it's time for the "what goes around comes around" theory to materialize.

We had some doozies. "Is your refrigerator running? Ha ha, then you better go catch it!" (personally I still think this is funny). Or, "Do you have Sir Arthur in a can? You better let him out!"

When I was a freshman in at IU, we won the NCAA basketball tournament. I was in hog heaven. Pandemonium and craziness on campus. Staying out all night whooping it up. We decided to play a joke on my parents. My friend called and disguised his voice and said that I was in terrible trouble and that they needed to come to the Bloomington police station right away. Uh, not funny! It almost turned on us when my mom actually believed him and started to cry!

At any rate, the tables have turned. Because of my dad's dementia, he does wacky things. Many times they are funny, and he and I can go back and laugh about them after the fact. But, he's taken to making prank phone calls. Lots of them. To me. Often times in the middle of the night when I am sound asleep -- obviously scaring me half to death.

Some of his best are that he is stuck at the fairgrounds and needs a ride home. (I am not sure he has ever been to the fairgrounds.) Or, he is standing at the corner of such and such and needs a ride. Or, so and so is plotting against him and he needs help. Or, can I go find mom.

Luckily I am able to laugh. Did this possibly come full circle due to my prankster antics as a youngster?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Turning the Tables

It seems every time I go to the store, I get accosted in the parking lot by some person wanting to know if "I have a dollar I can spare". I even had an elderly man come up behind me unexpectedly one evening (dangerous!) asking if I could help him pay for his prescription. He even showed it to me. I nicely told him "no" and that it was a very bad idea to approach a woman from behind (if he did not want to get decked).

This past weekend, the tables were somewhat turned.

I had just come from the gym and looked pretty ratty with sweat. As I approached the drug store an older man in a car that was in very poor shape said, "Mam, can you help me?" I thought ok, here we go again. But, he told me he could not get out of his car because he had trouble walking and handed me a $20 bill -- asking if I could go in and buy him a couple bottles of pop.

Wow, this was a first. Someone handing me money in a parking lot! Of course I would. I went in and purchased his 7-Up, put it in his back seat then gave him his change and receipt. He handed me a ten dollar bill for my trouble. "No way!" I replied. "I am happy to help you out any time," I said.

He smiled, thanked me and drove off.

It made me sad. And, a bit scared. That could be me in a few years. I just hope he has family or friends somewhere that can help him around some of the time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's a Good Day When...

This past year with my father being so ill, I have learned to view life quite differently. While it was truly the roughest year I can remember (and certainly my dad's), it was not even close to being as rough as what other people in this world may have experienced.

I'm not a New Year's resolutions kind of girl. I'm hard enough on myself without them, and making a bunch of promises that will never come to fruition is pointless. It sets me up for failure (which I clearly don't need!).

So, I'm looking at life in 2010 differently every day with this in mind: It's a Good Day When...
* You actually wake up.
* You wake up and all your fingers, toes and limbs work properly.
* You're not a family member of the poor pedestrian who was killed in the Indy snow storm by two cars (one of them a hit and run) last week.
* You were not taken out by the idiot who ran the stoplight over the weekend. (Yes, it was such a close call that I had to pull my car over and take a deep breath. This would have been a terrible wreck, and I might not be here today had it happened.)
* You're not living on the streets.
* Your have shelter with working heat.
* You are able to have 3 meals each day.
* You can learn to take bad things and make something good out of them (i.e., lessons learned from my dad's experience have already benefited others).
* You have a close knit group of good friends -- no matter how small the group or where they reside.
* You have faith in some higher being -- no matter what it is or your religious preference.
* You are able to help someone -- no matter how small the deed.

Yes, I am back to the very basics and very thankful I have these simple things. Don't get me wrong. I still love "stuff" and love to have fun, but at the end of the day it's all so very insignificant.