Setting Up and Settling In

We closed out our Des Moines apartment and drove out of Iowa on October 22. On November 27, our moving truck arrived, and we and all of our stuff spent our first night together in our new home in the Village of Oak Creek, just south of Sedona, Arizona. So our limbo hiatus period (including finding, buying, and closing on a new house) was 36 days long, far shorter than we had expected it to be, which is deeply pleasing. We’ve got all of the boxes unpacked now, most of the furniture placed (except for some new things we have on order), and are at the art-hanging stage of the process. It’s conceptually possible that we’ll be past the setting up phase this week, so that we can get on with the settling in phase. Ahhhh!

While our focus has primarily been on getting into the house, we have continued to explore and have adventures and appreciate our new surroundings. Of particular note since my last photo report, our experiences have included:

  • Discovering that the javalinas (collared peccaries) that we were seeing in and around the yard at our temporary AirBnB in Sedona were actually living in the crawl space under our house!
  • Hiking the Transept Trail near our new house, from which we can easily look down onto our neighborhood from atop the rocks north of it.
  • Hiking up to the top of Bear Mountain, one of the more strenuous walks we’ve done in a long, long time, with some hairy hand-work, slippery screes, cactus-lined chutes, and other challenges, all worth the incredible views all along the trail, especially at the summit.

I’ve captured pictures of those and other activities in a photo album, as one does, if one is me. You can click on one of my suggested contributions to home decor (below) to see the full gallery. I suspect that when I post a final “house set up, family settled in” album, this particular display may be subject to change. Unless Marcia never turns around at the sink, anyway.

I think my Saturn V model looks great in the dining room!!

It’s Not the Turkey . . .

It is a strange and unsettling Thanksgiving season this year, made even more so here by us being in transition between homes, with our furniture being delivered to the new house on Friday. This morning, we left our AirBnB home of the past month (and its resident javalinas) and are in a hotel for two nights, so really a betwixt situation, on all fronts.

While many or most of us may not experience the traditional big dinner tomorrow, as an offer of  small comfort, I republish an old poem below to remind us all that the turkey is not the most important comestible of Thanksgiving anyway. Not by a longshot.

Here’s wishing everyone health and safety and happiness wherever and however you are able to mark the day. And a big serving of cheese, fat, salt and carbs, readily made in the microwave, easily devoured anywhere, fresh out of the tray . . .

Alma rose at dawn to make the biscuits,
kneading lard into the baker’s flour,
rolling sheets and cutting discs for baking;
it took her just a bit more than an hour.

At that point, Alma turned to make the stuffing:
sausage, cornbread, broth and butter, nuts.
She pulled the neck and gizzard from the turkey,
(which, with the heart, she thought the sweetest cuts).

She filled the bird and stitched it tight for roasting,
then with a jar of cloves, she dressed the ham,
and pressed the honey from the comb she’d purchased,
to sweeten up her famous candied yams.

While collards stewed in bacon fat and bullion,
Alma snapped the beans and okra too,
then shucked the corn, (the Silver Queen she favored),
which, paired with shrimp, went in her Frogmore Stew.

By sunset, Alma’s work had been completed,
the family blessed their meal on bended knees.
An awkward silence followed, ‘til her son said
“How come there ain’t no Stouffer’s Mac an’ Cheese?”

Ten More Days in Sedona

Ten days ago, I wrote the following sentence regarding our new life in and around Sedona, Arizona: “As the region takes on more of a home feel, and less of a vacation vibe, I know that my photographer’s reflex will eventually relax a bit, but for now, I just can’t stop snapping the crazy beautiful scenes around me.”

Well, it was optimistic of me to think that I’d soon reach such a blasé attitude about my surroundings, and I continue to snap away as new vistas and sites present themselves to me, many times each day. We have continued to hike every day (even in what passes for bad weather locally, but which would have been considered glorious autumn days in Iowa at this time of the year), revisiting trails that have already become favorites, and exploring new reaches and branches in the crazy huge network of walking paths hereabouts. Katelin has been here the past three days, visiting from Las Vegas, so it’s been lovely to have her join us on our treks as well, as well as for a day trip over to Cottonwood and historic Jerome, far up Mingus Mountain.

We’ve also been relishing the local wildlife, different from anyplace we’ve ever lived before. We hear coyotes wailing most nights, and saw one on a trail one afternoon. We’ve also had a couple of encounters with a herd of javalinas (a.k.a. collared peccaries) that live in our neighborhood, watched a mule deer scale a ridiculously steep rock wall as we hiked, and gloried in birds beyond measure everywhere we look. I’ve already ID’ed 17 species in my Birds of Arizona guide, several of them while just sitting on the living room couch looking out the window at the yard. That’s good birding!

Things are moving quickly with our home purchase as well. We are scheduled to close on Friday the 20th, and our household goods should be delivered a week later. House set-up might curtail some of our time outdoors for a little while, but we won’t likely be able to stay off the trails for long, given their strong magic and overwhelming allure. If you’d like a peek at our second ten days hereabouts, I’ve compiled my best photos in an album on Flickr, as I usually do. You can click the pic of Marcia and Katelin atop Hole in the Sky Rock below to see the rest of the scenes. I’m sure there will be more to come at some point. Probably sooner rather than later, knowing me!


The Bumble Has Flown Away

(Very) long-time readers here may recall that in May 2009, I reported that we had added a new member to our family, a polydactyl tabby cat. The shelter where we adopted her had named her “Izzabella,” but that just didn’t seem right to us. We initially dubbed her “Ladyjane,” as in Lady Jane Grey, given her color, and the fact that my sister had a cat named Earl Grey. But in that very first blog post about our new family member, I noted that:

She’s quite busy, and her feet are truly awe-inspiring in a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not sort of way: she’s got five full toes on each back foot, five full toes on her left front foot, and five full toes plus a little dewclaw between the thumb and the fist on her right front foot, for a total of 20 full toes and a dewclaw, compared to the normal cat complement of 16 full toes plus two dewclaws. She also has a very odd voice, and talks to herself pretty much continually when she’s awake, sounding like a bumblebee as she chirps and buzzes around the house. So she could be Ladyjane the Busy Big-footed Bumblebee Cat, though that seems a smidge unwieldy.

It was indeed too unwieldy, and in a fairly short time, we shifted to calling her “The Bumble,” which fit her personality far better than either of the more-feminine names she’d already briefly possessed. She had a lot of personality, even by cat standards. There were adventures in the years ahead. And lots of strongly-expressed opinions.

Of the four cats that we had over the years as a family, three of them firmly imprinted on me as the leader of their clowder, but The Bumble always fixated on Katelin, preferring her company (and lap) to any other’s. When Marcia and I moved to Chicago, The Bumble stayed in Des Moines with Katelin, and she moved to Nevada this past summer with Katelin, John and Frank the Cat. For an Albany stray, she saw a lot of the country over the years.

Sadly, right before the move to Nevada, The Bumble became ill, and was eventually diagnosed with an aggressive tumor in her skull. Katelin and John just called to let us know know that she succumbed to her illness today, after some struggles, but also after some really good days of being loved and loving, appreciating their new home where she could be outdoors in a protected yard, or sit atop their massive and comfy Love Sac. They gave her a wonderful life. She was a lucky kitty.

Marcia and I got to see her one final time when we visited in September, so I am glad for that opportunity. A few weeks later, Katelin sent the photo below, of The Bumble chillin’. It’s a lovely shot of a lovely family member, who will be dearly missed.

Ten Days In

Since yesterday’s Special Election Selection playlist may still be relevant for a least a few more days, I thought about doing an updated list this afternoon featuring songs about patience and waiting and time not hurrying on. But as I started working on it, I decided that it wasn’t really making the time pass any faster, nor making me feel any better. Scratch that.

So instead I started going through the photos I’ve taken during our first ten days here in Sedona, and organizing them into an album. As the region takes on more of a home feel, and less of a vacation vibe, I know that my photographer’s reflex will eventually relax a bit, but for now, I just can’t stop snapping the crazy beautiful scenes around me.

We’ve made the most of the past fortnight, even beyond buying a new house, with my pedometer telling me that we’ve walked about 75 miles since arriving. We’ve climbed up some rocks and mountains and ambled down into some canyons and washes, and I took a solo trek one morning to find a “hidden” cave high above a fairly well-traveled trail. It was worth the schlep for sure. As were all of the other destinations we’ve visited thus far. We also got lucky, timing-wise, as the deciduous trees in the region seem to be in peak color, adding even more to the already rich regional palette. Wow.

If you’d like to see some of my shots of the various treks we’ve undertaken, click on the photo of the Midgley Bridge over Oak Creek Canyon below, taken this afternoon, during the Golden Hour just before sunset. Sedona sure is a special place. We’re glad to be here!

We and VOC

As an avid history reader and having been to the Netherlands a couple of times, when I see or hear the acronym “VOC,” the first meaning that pops to mind is “Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie.” That’s the “Dutch East India Company” in English, one of the world’s greatest mega-corporations in the 17th and 18th Centuries, shaping trade and political history in profitable ways that could (and likely did) turn countless monarchs and despots and ministers bright green with impotent envy. The VOC had a bad-ass logo that they stamped on pretty much everything they touched, hence imprinting those three letters deeply in public consciousness, even centuries on. Here, eat your hearts out, modern clip-art and Photoshop designers:

Google has a different reaction to “VOC,” with pretty much the top four pages of search returns being dedicated solely to “Volatile Organic Compounds.” They’re a constant presence in our “better living through chemistry” world, though most of them are things that we’d really be better off not breathing, eating, touching or manufacturing. Needless to say, most of those high-placing search returns are related to ways that you can mitigate or minimize those flavors of VOCs, ideally by purchasing one or more products from helpful merchants using Google advertising tactics to top the returned links and pages.

The Free Dictionary includes 49 references associated with other uses of the acronym VOC, some of them arcane, some of them somewhat obvious. But Marcia and I have learned a 50th definition of the term this week: Village of Oak Creek. It’s a census designated place about eight miles south of Sedona, Arizona, with a population of about 6,500 people. And it’s where we found a house we loved, put in an offer, and have gotten a contract in place for our next permanent home. There are still all of the various paper and legal machinations to grind through over the next few weeks, but it’s a safe bet that we will be in the house before Thanksgiving, and hopefully our household goods will be delivered around the same time.

It was a relatively quick process, on-location, though we did a lot of research and work in advance of our arrival, and it paid off for us. I’ll write more about it once we’re all properly ensconced, but for now, here’s a teaser photo of our new digs. We think it will be a most pleasing new nest!