January 2009


My USB port is not working today, so this is an archived pictured.

click photo to enlarge.

click photo to enlarge.

It is from December 2007 when we went with some friends to their condo at Purgatory Ski Village. I used this photo on my Christmas cards last year because I did not get my regular stamped ones made and someone had the nerve to say, “Your card just wasn’t as cute as I was expecting.”

I’m not sure what could be more beautiful than this!

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

Note:  Please do not think I was offended by the comment about the Christmas card. I realize the world is full of  people without a clue, and that was one of them!  After reading some of the comments, I thought I should tell you this. It takes a lot to make me feel attacked.  A WHOLE lot more than that! I mostly put it in because I thought it was funny.

Girl, Chic and Boy at the Salt River, AZ.

Girl, Chic and Boy at the Salt River, AZ.

My paternal grandparents had 24 grandchildren. My maternal grandparents had 7 grandchildren. (Or 8? Depending on how one viewed it. I never met the 8th one in any event.)  I have one brother, so that means I have 27 first cousins. That is nothing for some people, but it seemed quite a lot when I was growing up.

These first cousins span currently span ages from 18 years old to 55-ish. (An interesting note is that the oldest and youngest are from the same sibling of my father.) Although there is a giant age range, most of them are close to my age or older (up to 12ish years older).

Chic, Chicklet and Girl at Saguaro Lake

Chic, Chicklet and Girl at Saguaro Lake

On my father’s side of the family, the cousins I saw the most when I was really little were the oldest ones because those uncles/aunts were significantly older than my parents and well-established in life. My parents were poor, and my dad’s generous siblings had us over all the time for food and entertainment.  Those cousins were idolized by me. Most were in high school or beyond in those days before I was even in school, but I fondly remember some of the things they did with me.  (Not-so-fondly I still have a scar from my leg touching the exhaust pipe while riding behind one of my cousins on his motorcycle. Come to think of it, I have no idea why my parents even allowed that!)

First Cousins making Christmas cookies

First Cousins making Christmas cookies

As I got older, my paternal cousins changed. My oldest uncle divorced, remarried and adopted his new wife’s three children.  This new generation of cousins was closer to my age, and OH, how much fun my brother and I had playing with them. My uncle by this time had a swimming pool and acres of land. There was nothing more fun than going to their house.

When I played with my cousins, we always paired up or had teams. There was always an odd number, and someone was always left out and probably offended. That person was never me! When the boys played with the boys and the girls played with the girls, I was fine because there were only two girls. When we all played together I was fine because being the cousin instead of the sister, I was a novelty to the boys who sometimes fought to be paired with me in whatever we played.

First cousins at Incredible Pizza

First cousins at Incredible Pizza

I remember sitting at home and hearing my parents say the smallest thing that might indicate a visit to a cousin’s, house. My brother and I would exhange excited glances. Our ears would prick up for further information. Our bodies were on edge as our nerves were hoping against hope we could go play with our cousins.

On my mother’s side of the family things were  a little different. I will not go into that in detail  here because I did quite a bit in this post. What I will say is that neither my brother nor I were as excited to go visit those cousins, but it was not the fault of the cousins as much as it was the family rift that made it so unpleasant to be there. When we got there, we had fun with those cousins.  There was always a price to pay, however, so we would dread it until we actually got there.

My other maternal cousins were about ten years younger than me, and they lived in another country; we saw them about every three years. I used to really love it when they came because they probably idolized me the same way I had idolized my older cousins when I was little, and they were novel. Although they were from the same family from where came all the misery in our lives, they were far removed and not like that–at least then.

Girl, Chic and Boy dancing at the marshmallow roast

Girl, Chic and Boy dancing at the marshmallow roast

So now I am grown up, and it is interesting to me to know to which cousins I am now closest and are “my favorites.” It is not my childhood favorites, for sure! Most of my oldest cousins went their own ways and care very little what happens to me. That is not true for all of them, but most.  My younger cousins from another country now live in the United States, but they do not make the “favorite” cut, either. In fact, I am mostly of a mind that I do not care if I ever talk to them again. (Hopefully I will cover some of this later, but now is not the time.)

Chic, Girl and Boy in Salt River

Chic, Girl and Boy in Salt River

The cousins that mean the most to me now are the ones about whom I was most ambivalent in childhood.  They have been the loyal ones. They suffered through the same family (but in a much worse way than I did). They understand why I would not go to my grandmother’s funeral (and why we will all go to their step-mother’s funeral wearing party clothes).  They have always loved me. Even when we were little and I KNOW I could have been nicer, they loved me. Maybe then it was because I represented something so far from their own lives that they could only dream about it, but they could have resented me for that. (I have had plenty of friends who have resented my seemingly charmed life.) Not only did they never resent me, but they have stood with me in my own troubles. They have never judged me for the problems that have come my way or for my viewpoints that may not be like their own. (Though most of our viewpoints are amazingly similar–probably due to the unbelievable stupidity around/in which we were raised. I was raised witnessing it; they were raised in the midst of it.) And they are even nice, EXTRA nice to Prince  Charming even though there could not be found on this planet more polar opposites politically!   They are almost the sisters I never had. I say “almost” because they are sisters themselves, and I can never be to them exactly what they are to each other, but they are to me what I imagine sisters would be.

Second cousins in Salt River

Second cousins in Salt River

Something else about these cousins is that they are not my flesh and blood; they were adopted into my family. Their wicked step-mother was my aunt.  (I have always thought she adopted them because my father’s brother adopted children from a later marriage. She was always trying to keep up with people who were esteemed in some circles.) I would not even bring this up, but recently there was a question about why we were so close, and our children are so close, when we are “not blood.” To me this is a ludicrous question, but the answer, given by one of them was, “Because we grew up together!” To me it is more than that. I grew up with other cousins, too. But the three of us had shared experiences that were often unpleasant (definitely more so for them than me), and the three of us have a strength of character that maybe not all the other cousins have. The trials brought us together, gave us solidarity and gave us love and understanding for one another.

Chicklet, Girl and Chic in Salt River

Chicklet, Girl and Chic in Salt River

Now our kids are the best of friends whenever they are together, but thankfully without all the tenseness, struggles and abuse that we had. Maybe it is the word “cousins” that makes people close, not blood.

Note: The title of this post has been in my head for weeks. It was originally meant to be about my children and their cousins, and how although they do not live near any of their cousins, when they get together, they act as if they are best friends and have the best times. My kids play well with most kids, but it is different with their cousins; it is magic. (I was also going to briefly discuss 2nd and 3rd cousins and “removed’s.”) But when I started typing, the story above came out. I do not know why; it must have been meant to be.

And another note: All the river pictures were taken mid-December when we visited Arizona. It was not exactly warm, but it was nice!

2009-01-08spidermanride

Spiderman is inviting me to be a part of his adventure

As mentioned last week, my next few My World posts are going to be from Orlando since I was an actual tourist (of sorts) there so got more “touristy” pictures than I do here.

This week it is about Spiderman at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure. This post was going to be about that experience in general, but I had too many pictures and could not pare them down, so I decided to just do Spiderman.

I happened to be there one evening when this area of the park was closed to the public. There were probably not more than 200 of us there. NO LINES!!! There were four rides open to those in attendance, and Spiderman was one of them.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

I love amusement park rides (unless they spin), so it is no surprise I loved this one. It is a 3-D ride which is always fun. All the villains came and jumped right onto the edge of our car. It was also a motion ride, and there was a place I had to close my eyes because I thought I might get sick. We were hurtling down toward the street between buildings.

What it looked likek without 3-D glasses.

What it looked like without 3-D glasses.

What I truly loved about this ride was that besides the images being so real and “right there,” they had other effects. When the water villain was there, we got wet. Not REALLY wet, but there was water sprayed at us. When the fire villain was there (forgive me for not knowing the names–it has been a long time since I have seen Spiderman), we could feel heat. I wanted to take off my glasses to see exactly what was happening, but I didn’t want to miss a second of the show, either. Yes, I could have ridden it again, but there were other rides calling. I will share them with you in another My World.

When it was all over, the real Spiderman was out and wanted to have his picture taken with me. (Only a SLIGHT exageration!)

When it was all over, the real Spiderman was out walking around and wanted to have his picture taken with me. (Only a SLIGHT exaggeration! He IS real, even if he doesn't look like it.)

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

I LOVE sundogs! I don’t know why I do, but I do. Maybe it is because they are somewhat rare. I think I saw the second one in my life when I was in my early  20’s.  However, since moving to New Mexico, I usually see them 5 or 6 times a year.  And this week I have seen sundogs TWICE. TWICE IN ONE WEEK! Both times they were spots 180 degrees from each other, and both times so bright it was difficult to look at them (as well as photograph).

click photo to enlarge (thanks, Leora!!)

click photo to enlarge (thanks, Leora!!)

So here is one of them this week. I was torn between this and the spectacular sunrise we had this morning, but since sundogs are rarer, I picked this.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

Fishing Guy tagged me for this photo meme that I have seen on a lot of blogs lately.  It is to find the fifth folder in your picture files and post the fifth picture from it. (I just went there to make sure I had the link right, and he’s got another photo meme up. Beautiful picture!)

This is actually my 5th folder for 2007 because I did not want to post the 5th picture from the 5th folder which was 2006.

Chic and Chicklet are on the phone with a great aunt who is reading to them out of the books that they have on their laps. The aunt, who lives in Missouri, has a copy of the books and calls them on the phone for story time. I like this idea because it keeps them in touch with distant family members by doing something they love very much.

200901-202007-05-08readingonphone

I never like to tag people for things, but please do not hesitate to do this meme if it interests you!

This is not really about “my” world, but about a world I recently visited. I took more pictures there than I do here (at least of things I can post since I do not post pictures of my kids and their friends playing very often), and there were some very interesting things, so “My World” will be about Orlando for two or three weeks.

When I was flying into Orlando, I saw lots of water on the ground, and it was overcast. No surprise. But what did surprise me was large wooded areas with no leaves on the trees. I had no idea trees lost their leaves there.

2009-01-12orlandobaretrees

Then later I saw a tree with orange leaves, fading from its peak of autumn glory… in JANUARY! Maybe I am the last person to know that Orlando has some form of autumn, but previously I never knew, so I thought it was interesting.

2009-01-12orlandoautumntree

Right next to the “autumn tree” was some tree unidentifiable to me that had yellow flowers on it. It was amusing to me that one tree was in bloom, and the tree next to it was orange and losing its leaves.  What a different world from mine!

2009-01-12orlandoyellowflowerstree

2009-01-12orlando2trees1

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

Wow! It has been such a long time since I have had a regular post that was not SkyWatch or My World.  I love doing those posts, but I am itching to write something. Unfortunately today is not the day for I have far too many things to do to write, but there is a need in me to get SOMETHING up here, so I am putting up random things I have been thinking about, have noticed or are just about me lately.

This is not my tree. I never got a good picture of my tree. This one belongs to Jenn at thursdaydrive.com.

This is not my tree. I never got a good picture of my tree. This one belongs to Jenn at thursdaydrive.com. (After her daughter and mine put all the silver balls in one place.)

1.  I am ashamed to say that last night while my daughters attended a birthday party, Prince  Charming and I finally took down our Christmas tree, the girls’ tree and the few other decorations we had out for this year.  You learned here that my holiday season was a little crazed. The aftermath has not been much better except that there was no school (no drop-off/pick-up time “wasted” and no art classes to suck up an entire day plus preparation and clean-up) and no business stamping so I actually made a little headway, though things have not slowed down in the least.

2. I mentioned in another post that I joined Facebook. I really do not have time for this any more than anything else I do, but I really do not spend that much time there.  (But I will admit enough that I probably should not have joined it because I have NO time for it.) For the most part I have really enjoyed it. I was amazed at all the people from my past (On Facebook it is the  real life “me,” but apparently I have “paranoid” privacy settings according to someone who wanted to find me.) who are on it and how fun it is catching up with a lot of them.  I am required to say, however, that some people are exactly as uninteresting and juvenile and self-serving as they were in high school.  (For the very few of you from my real life who are reading this, I promise you I would  not have said this at all if it were you or anyone I know you are close to.  Also, there are only about two, in my opinion, in this category.) One would think 20-25 years would be a cause for personal growth, but apparently not always.

3.  It is amazing what can be accomplished in 4 minutes when getting ready for church. (I put this on my Facebook update.  It was meant to be funny, and I thought two people there, who also read my blog, would “get it,” but they did not say anything.  Apparently I am not THAT funny!)

4. I think I could be a snowbird. A week ago I was in Orlando where the high temperatures for the six days I was there neared 80 almost every day. I used to think I was fine with winter, but now I think I could be quite content in a place like that January – March.

Taken while driving through a neighborhood in Orlando.

Taken while driving through a neighborhood in Orlando.

2009-01-07airplanereadinglight5. Traveling makes me remember how so many people are irritating. I was  honestly surprised at the general rudeness at the airport of other travelers both to myself and others. And why do people have to get on an airplane and want to talk and laugh loud enough for the entire plane to hear them? An airplane is not a comedy club, and if it were, the passengers are not the performers.

6. This trip also reminded my why Southwest Airlines is my favorite.  Both flights I took were early. Their employees are friendly and happy (which must indicate something good with their employer since some travelers are rude and dealing with that all day and still being happy and friendly is an amazing thing in my opinion), and the flight attendants usually let their personalities show in some way. This time we were on the tarmac waiting for a gate because we were early, and a flight attendant sang to us songs about the airline. Also, they have a new boarding system since I last flew with them, and it is even better than before. It means that passengers can remain seated in the gate area until they announce the flight. It is wonderful.  I. LOVE. SOUTHWEST. AIRLINES!!!!! (Last Spring and Summer I flew twice on two other airlines and one was downright horrible and the other one barely acceptable after being being accustomed to Southwest.)

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge (I think it's worth it)

7. While in Orlando I visited my best friend from my senior year in high school and freshman year of college and remembered why she was in the first place and why we have kept in touch all these years. She is the definition of genuineness and kindness and is a huge inspiration to me.

8. While sitting in the Orlando airport I was reminded why I am glad I do not watch the news. Airport CNN was on and some anchorman was “reporting” political news in such an opinionated manner that I wanted to shoot the screen. (Thank goodness I had my laptop and tuned him out by trying to catch up on blog reading.) Our family does not watch TV… EVER. It is not a moral decision or anything other than about time and convenience. But not exposed to it for so long (We have watched almost none since moving to Albuquerque more than 6 years ago. I was recovering from surgery when Hurricane Katrina hit and tried to watch that a little, but even the reporting from The Weather Channel got on my nerves, so I stopped.) makes one see how ludicrous it can be, and I know I could not start watching it again. The “reporting,” by the way, had to do with two opposing political icons, and the anchorman was antagonistic to both, and cocky to boot. Did. not. like. it.

9.  This week has returned to “normal” with a vengeance. Not only do I teach art this week (I did last week, too, and was reminded why I do not really love doing that), but I have three stamping events. Plus I am a little lot behind on other things due to being gone and all. It will be interesting to see what I feel like at the end of the week. Thank goodness for my end-of-week activity.

bare mimosa tree at my daughter's school

bare mimosa tree at my daughter's school

10. Over the holidays (and on my trip) I was reminded that I have some really wonderful friends with whom I do not spend enough time.  I saw all these friends, even if briefly, over the holidays, and it was one of the most heart-warming things I can imagine. There is a post spinning around in my mind about it, so hopefully I will get back to somewhat regular posting this week… hopefully.

Finally, thanks to all of you who keep coming here and reading no matter how little or how infrequently I post and when it takes me a while to catch up at your place. I truly appreciate your visits and kind words!

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