Archive for the ‘Life’ Category


My posts have been few and far between lately, and this one will just be a brief update as I have myself spread pretty thin these days. That’s a good thing, though, as it’s an indicator of a lot of progress on multiple fronts – business, music, social.

The house in Parks is sold and I’m almost out of the high country. The last of my stuff will go into temporary storage this week. I’ve been busy trying to line up a place to live in the East Valley where I can teach in my home and still be close enough to the music store that the commute is not too onerous. I had hoped to have a place rented this week and to make a smooth transition directly out of Parks, but there will probably be a slight gap. I’m still narrowing down the housing options and should have that done in the next week to two weeks. It’s been great fun staying with my friends, but I’m anxious to get back into my own place again.

So far, I’ve built my student roster up to one third of my goal and, as I’ve seen happen before, the rate of new signups is starting to accelerate. I should have a full teaching load before May. I’m really enjoying teaching again and happy to have focused specifically on acoustic guitar. I’ve been getting some super students. I’ve found some other musicians to jam with; my repertoire is continuing to increase. New experiments on guitar nails, too, which I will elaborate on soon.

I’ve met a great guy and we’re having a lot of fun together – from visiting the Phoenix Art Museum to having a snowball fight in his front yard the last time I came back down to Phoenix from the high country. It’s unusual to find someone who has so many interests in common with me, and who is smart, articulate, and playful, too. I’m smiling a lot these days!


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So Much Stuff

The logic of an arsonist suddenly makes a whole lot more sense to me after several days of packing up to move, especially since I have been plagued by a cold for the whole duration. I’m tired and cranky. How could one person accumulate so many possessions – so much JUNK – in twelve years? Why didn’t I just keep that vow of poverty?

Hey, it’s cold out; the humidity is up. A bonfire seems like a mighty fine idea. There’s a snowstorm on the way and I could have a nice, warm, safe fire out in the middle of the acre. But that wouldn’t address the issue of choosing what to destroy and what to sustain.

So much stuff. So many decisions. That’s the crux of it.

The things I need for everyday maintenance are easy enough to decide on – kitchenware, clothes, linens, office supplies, basic household tools. The items I need for work are easy enough to identify. The things that are more difficult to sort into “Keep” or “Pitch” piles are the objects of sentimental value, the gifts, the beautiful but useless things that might have once delighted the eye but now seem to cry out, “Fragile!”

Most difficult of all are the things that hopes and dreams are made of. Books, art supplies, yarn – things that whisper of cozy evenings spent on a fun project or caught up in another time and place, weekends dedicated to creative ideas. Siren songs. Should I plug my ears with wax, or like Odysseus, tie myself to the mast? Or will I (once again) pack up EVERYTHING, and like some latter day Atlas carry it all with me?

So far, I have given a lot of things away. Plants, furniture, redundant items, electronics – I’ve gone through the easy stuff. I’ve got a pile of things for Goodwill and for the used book store. But there is oh so much left. Now comes the hard part…

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One thing I miss about the Arizona high country is the dark night skies.  I’ve been back up in Parks for two days to do some more work on the place and I went out tonight to look at the sky.  The stars were breathtakingly bright in the cold, clear air at 7,000 feet. While gazing up at the Milky Way, I became acutely aware of the tension that I live with on a daily basis right now.  I have been so busy running to try and get everything done that I hadn’t taken the time to just look, much less to feel.

Pursuing a new life in the Phoenix area and trying to maintain my place in northern Arizona is an uneasy balancing act. Uncertainties abound and I never know from one day to the next what new surprise will come up next.  It is exciting, that’s for sure.  I feel as if I am riding a unicycle on a high wire while juggling.  Blindfolded.  I seem to recall saying something about not having enough excitement in my life, oh a couple of months or so ago…. Nowadays, I have about all the excitement I can handle.

Actually, things are going pretty well.  My student roster is growing and so is my repertoire. I’m almost done with a client’s website in Drupal. I’ve got a possible interview for a long-term temp assignment as a web developer later this week. If that all goes as I hope, I’ll be on that full-time as of next Monday, which should fill in the gaps while my teaching schedule expands. It’ll be hectic for awhile, but doable.  At least I will have a settled, predictable routine for two months!  I’m almost done with all the various projects on the “cabin.” It’s been difficult making all the trips back and forth, but it has let me see my folks more often than I would have otherwise.

It was wonderful to be able to be outside today in near 60 degree temps, scraping paint and caulking.  I could feel the warm sun on my shoulders and smell the dusty tang of the dried grasses in the yard.  I had to laugh as I took the extension ladder down off its hooks; I could hear Cap’t. G’s voice in my ear telling me in no uncertain terms how to lift, carry and place it. Angle, brace, test, climb, anchor your leg to leave your hands free- it was fire academy all over again.  I was grinning as I went up and down the ladder at each window and door.

If nothing else sticks with me from the old firefighter days, I did gain the confidence to tackle just about anything around my place. It all seems pretty elementary after learning how to run pumps, extrication equipment, chain saws, and to repair SCBAs!  (As you might have guessed, I never was much of a Barbie doll, though I have been rather mindful of my nails lately.  I don’t want to ruin my guitar tremelo!)

Some things are falling through the cracks at the moment, however, like blogging, Flamencophile.com, and accompanying flamenco dance classes. I have to remind myself every so often that it will all still be there when everything calms down. (Famous last words.) For now, the fact that I’m keeping up with practicing and my exercise program in the midst of everything else is quite an accomplishment. And, I did take a few minutes to gaze up at the night sky tonight and just appreciate the clarity and the beauty of the stars.

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Busy, Busy

In the last 24 hours, I’ve signed up my first student at Gilbert music, delivered promo flyers door to door in one neighborhood, handed out business cards everywhere I’ve gone, and labeled a batch of 55 CDs that I sold with all of the new contact information. I also made the drive back up to the high country and have been prepping “the cabin” for the winter this afternoon. I even got an hour in writing the Prologue on the next novel. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’ll mow and finish up a good share of what’s left to do before shutting the place down for the season.

Calling the place in Parks “the cabin” signals the big shift that’s happened in my thinking in the last two weeks. This isn’t “home” any more. It’s the retreat, the getaway. It’s the place that still requires quite a bit of work to have ready for winter. It’s also an asset–the leverage I have into a new life. If I can keep this bit of the past without it being a drain and transform it as I move ahead into the future, fine. If I decide to sell it, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve even had moments of thinking I would feel a lot freer for that. There are good memories here, but there are many not-so-good memories, too.

One more trip back up for a long weekend over Thanksgiving should do the trick. I’ll be able to drain the water system and shut ‘er down. Then, the only things that will get me out of the Valley and “up the hill” over the winter will be a run to get the last load of stuff when I move into my new place and family visits. (And the chance to get in some snow-shoeing and skiing…THINK SNOW!)

I’m actually enjoying the Valley, much to my surprise. Yes, it’s congested, smoggy, and there’s a lot of traffic, but there’s also a lot going on in the arts, much more opportunity and stimulation, and I’m meeting lots of great people. It’s showing me just how isolated I was before I went south. The job hunt is always a grind, but there have been many positive developments this week and I’m finding time to have a little fun, too.

Now, I just need to get back on track with my flamenco guitar practice (again) and my baile. In all the hustle and bustle, those get set aside more often than I would like. But, things are settling down somewhat and I can see that within a few weeks, I should be well into my new life.

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A Year and a Day

Yesterday was this blog’s first birthday. I was at a job fair and running all over Phoenix for most of the day. So, I didn’t get this post together before the GMT coach turned into a pumpkin.

A lot has happened in a year. Last year at this time I’d just gotten laid off from my web design job, was a day away from starting on my NaNoWriMo novel, and was a total blog neophyte. Since then, this little experiment in writing has had its busy and slow times, has gone through several visual metamorphoses, and topped 8,000 hits.

In the last month, my novel has been completed enough to be sent out to half a dozen “dedicated readers” for critique. I’ve moved to Phoenix for the winter and I’m doing music seriously again.

Today, I got the confirmation from Gilbert Music that I will be a guitar instructor for them. Woohoo! I also took a bike ride this morning, the first one in several years. It was a short ride – flat ground and under a half-hour – but it was an important test. Tonight, my legs are fine!

What a difference a year makes…

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Whew! Been busy packing and practicing , writing and web designing. There’s just a lot happening right now. My brother’s wedding is tomorrow. And, I picked up a little side work as an instrument tech with my surveyor friend for Sunday.

We’ve got a boundary and topo to do on Hart Prairie, up on the north side of the San Francisco Peaks. That is going to be cool! Literally and metaphorically – for one thing, it’s at about 9,000 feet in elevation. Hart Prairie is a gorgeous area any time of year, but in the autumn it is truly spectacular. I noticed just today on my trip into town to accompany the flamenco dance class that the leaves are starting to turn in Flagstaff. I’ll take my camera with me on Sunday and see if I can find some good shots of autumn aspens. I’ll post any good ones here.

Every so often, I have a nostalgic moment or find myself dragging my feet about moving. I keep telling myself that it’s likely temporary and I remind myself of all the very real benefits of what I plan to do this winter. It should be an interesting and productive time. It will also be a big adjustment living in an apartment in a big metro area again after more than a decade in “the boondocks,” where my trip to the mail box entailed a drive through pine forests and open prairies over four miles of washboard and red cinder Forest Service road. It’s all trade-offs, decisions made on an intuitive sense that Phoenix is where I need to be and music is what I need to be doing.

I’ve learned to ask myself the crucial question, “If not now, when?” While packing two nights ago, I ran across a box of mementos that contained greeting cards from the last decade or so–a birthday wish from my dad from before dementia took away his memory, a note from my ex-husband from a time before the disintegration of our marriage, and congratulations on my graduation from Fire Academy signed by all my old fire buddies, including the young cadet who died just a few moths ago. It was a poignant reminder that disease, dysfunction, and death are the great dividers. To not live my life to the fullest right now would be to deny a number of very difficult and painful lessons from the past few years.

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There are a lot of things on the upside of this latest development. For one thing, the last time I lived in Phoenix, I moved down there just ahead of the summer season and left at the end of a long, hot summer. Not very good timing. This time, I’m at least in better tune with the seasons! I know more people, I have good friends who have already blazed the trail, and I have the hope and expectation that this is at least somewhat seasonal, if not temporary.

With a little luck and a lot of hard work, I do think it is possible to keep my place in the mountains as a sanctuary and retreat from the worst of the heat and congestion. If not, at least I will have already taken some of the actions that would have been necessary anyway.

I’ve learned a lot since I left the Valley 16 years ago and, while some of my skills may be rusty, I’ve made huge strides on the software development front lately. My earning capacity has increased a great deal in the last few months in that area.

This is also pushing me towards a much more realistic assessment of my time and energy capabilities, and I’ve made some hard-edged decisions about focus. I am cutting out harp for anything but my own enjoyment and, depending on how things develop over the next year or so, I may even sell it. It is not my first instrument and it’s taking time away from developing my guitar. So is playing old repertoire. I’ve canceled the Sept. 19th Coffee Bean gig. I’m not going to be doing that music anymore and I don’t want to waste any more time on maintaining portions of that repertoire.

And there are all of the usual benefits of life in a big city – more cultural activities, more things to do, more stimulation in general. I’m looking forward to being part of a much expanded and more vibrant music scene. It will challenge me and help me grow. F1 and I are already making plans to take flamenco dance lessons from Yumi la Rosa again and to practice our Spanish together.

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