Thursday, June 27, 2013

EEK! It's Thursday!

Every Thursday morning, I get up early knowing that it's the day I write and post my Runaway Boomer Blog. But this morning, I was coming off a dinner party we hosted last night. Woke up late with a Greek food hangover, and enjoyed some quality time with a few much-needed cups of coffee. I checked on my Facebook friends, wrote some emails, made a few calls, and even considered a late morning nap.Then, "EEK! It's Blog Day Thursday!".

It's been a busy week. Rehearsals for our upcoming Sweet Adelines concert are taking up a minimum of 6 hours a week (2 rehearsals of 3 hours each + practice at home). We have also been consumed with preparation for our patio construction project. Tomorrow, we hope for final approval. That would mean that work and all the ensuing chaos starts early next week. I just scheduled installation of some rain gutters, which may happen in the midst of the patio project. Yesterday - house cleaning and food prep. Had our quarterly consultation with our financial advisor at 8am this morning, which is probably what threw me off in the first place.

Summer is in full swing here at Talking Rock, and that means our golf and social schedule is busy, busy, busy. In the midst of all this activity, we had the stress of the Doce wildland fire that came within about 5 miles of our home. Let's see, "Golf or evacuation, which will it be?"

So, you see, I'm a bit tired and discombobulated. It's been one of those weeks when I don't know what day it is and can't keep track of my calendar events or to-do list. I think doing laundry is about my speed today.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Preparing for the Worst

How do you prepare to leave your home (quickly), when you don't know whether it will be there when you return? It's the terrible dilemma you have when you face the possibility of evacuation because of a natural disaster.

Beautiful Granite Mountain is on fire, as well as thousands of acres of Prescott National Forest that surround it. Fifty foot flames are scuttling across boulders and cliffs, consuming the Ponderosa Pines and Junipers, and making waste of the chaparral. The rugged green landscape is blackened. It's sickening. And the winds of destruction are literally blowing in our direction.

Photo by: Michael Chow/The Republic

Our attention to the firefight is rapt. We can see DC-10 tankers spreading fire retardant slurry, while helicopters buzz around dropping water. Spotter planes lead the way. Firefighters on the ground are working around the clock and, against the wind and apparent odds, so far their efforts have kept nearby homes safe. Nevertheless, our community five miles northeast has been put on alert for possible evacuation.

Did we have an emergency plan? No... But we quickly put one together. We might have to leave the house on fairly short notice, taking only what we can pack into our Subaru. We approached the awful choices to be made by breaking things into categories:

.  Purse/wallets.
.  Cell phones/charger.
.  Netbook/charger.
.  Small backpack of clothing, and one sturdy pair of shoes. (Dammit, I'm taking those cute and impractical new jeans from Chicos that I haven't even had a chance to wear.)
.  Prescription medications.
.  Eyeglasses/Contact lenses.
.  Basic toiletries.

.  Birth and Marriage certificates.
.  Checkbooks.
.  Receipts for household furniture and goods (in case we have to file an insurance claim).
.  Lease for Chicago condo.
.  PC tower with hard drive. (Important files have been backed up on a separate device.)

.  Cash.
.  Jewelry
.  Art. (We could only choose a few things that would fit in the car. A lot of beautiful pieces could be lost.)

.  Photographs.
.  Beezum's ashes.
From our front yard - Day 1

I went through the house and took photos of furniture, art, and other belongings. Everything we can take is already packed and staged for departure. If we get the dreaded word, all we need to do is load the car and go. In the meantime, we are praying for the strength and safety of the firefighters.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Remembering Dad

Father's Day is painful now. Ron lost his father in 1995, and I lost mine in 1999. Nevertheless, those of us who no longer have our dads are shotgunned with all the same Father's Day advertising and wishes as everyone else. I wish there would be even a little emphasis on remembering our fathers with love and respect. To that end, I'll tell you a little about my dad.

John Haropulos was a WWII veteran, who saw action on Okinawa. He didn't talk about it much, but I sensed that it shaped his appreciation of home and family. Dad grew up in Chicago, and I learned to share his love of the city - cheering for the Bears and the Cubs, going to Northwestern University where Dad studied Electrical Engineering, and eventually living about a mile from where he and his family lived (on Belmont).

After the war, Dad and Mom eloped in 1950, and shortly thereafter he finished his college degree at the University of New Hampshire. They lived in New York City less than a year, before Dad obtained a government job in the DC area. Three daughters (I'm #2) and a son were all raised in suburban Maryland. All of us got good public school educations and the opportunity to go to college.

Dad was an impressive figure. I used to describe him to friends as "6 foot 2 with a mustache". We were taught to think in a disciplined way and to use our brains to figure things out. (In fact it was demanded of us.)

I'm thankful that we were able to finance a trip to Hawaii for Mom and Dad in the 80's. Dad had a chance to show Mom where he was stationed at the end of the war. Hilton came through and upgraded them into a suite with a view of Diamondhead. I also fondly remember the trip Ron and I took with them to Arizona to see the Cubs in Spring Training.

Dad taught me how to throw and catch a football and a baseball, and how to swing a golf club. He paid for summer camp, swimming, hula, and piano lessons. He yelled at me when I did something stupid, and comforted me when I skinned a knee. We played wiffle ball in the back yard. Saturday nights, he grilled burgers or steaks. We all piled into a car for summer vacations, and Dad drove us to New Hampshire. When he got tired, he would sing silly songs. I remember him pulling over to the side of the road to pick wildflowers flowers for Mom. We loved it when Dad would play old 78 records and he and Mom would dance in the living room. Dad mowed the lawn, fixed the car, and built things. At the end of the day, he would often come upstairs to tuck us in at night and check the bed for creepy-crawlies. When Ron and I married in 1991, Dad placed our wedding crowns on our heads, and danced at our reception. He was the best father I can imagine.

So as Father's Day approaches, the best thing my old friends could say to me is, "I remember your father". Otherwise, a hug would be good.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Loving Desert Living

I've lived out East, in the Midwest, the great State of Texas, the South, and in the desert Southwest. The desert has a unique beauty and ruggedness to it that appeals to some of us. Over time, I have learned to love it, but it did require some adjustment. Here's a mini guide for the uninitiated:

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The dry air sucks moisture from us. We have to constantly replenish it by drinking water. Don't drive away to run errands without drinking water in your car. If you have car trouble, exposure can be life-threatening.

Moisturize. Our skin, hair, and nails need heavy-duty protection or we will all dry up and blow away.

Suncreen is a daily requirement, especially in the summer months when the sun is brutally strong. Don't forget your scalp (or wear a hat). It's common practice to see a dermatologist on a regular basis, to examine any skin damage. Invest in good sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Water is precious, and we don't take it for granted. During the summer monsoons, we love to sit on the patio and marvel at the rain and smell the fragrant air.

Open-toed slippers are recommended so no scorpions can hide in the toes. Scorpion bites can be very serious, even on extremities. Have a professional service treat the outside foundation of your home to create a defensive barrier against creepy crawlies.

Splurge on pedicures. We live the summer in sandals (including golf sandals).

It's impossible to keep up with the dusting. Between the dust and the wind - it's just everywhere. Hopefully, you're not allergic to dust.

We share our habitat with critters. Bunnies and hummingbirds are charming. Javelina and coyotes are also prevalent. Remember that javelina are practically blind. Don't get too close (especially if they have babies), and they won't feel threatened. They may trample your garden and eat your flowers. And they are very stinky. Coyotes have plenty of food here. Like javelina, they are mostly out at night. They'll occasionally wake you with their howling, but otherwise don't bother humans.

Some of these facts of life about desert living may sound unappealing. To us, the beauty, the outdoor living, and the stark and gentle displays of nature have won our hearts forever. Every sunset over the mountains is a gift. Every patio gathering with friends is a new blessing. Every raindrop is a miracle. Every clear, fresh morning is a rebirth.