Sunday, November 22, 2015

In the Closet

It's been a strange "winter getaway" this year.  I've kind of been numb over all the events that happened in the weeks before we left.  Thank goodness for the wedding, it was the only event that gave us any warning ahead of time and the only one that goes without saying, was happy.  I was best person and witnessed a good friend marry the woman of her dreams.  It was the perfect remedy for the two funerals that bracketed the "wedding of the year," as was the vacation that followed.  It's the vacation that I've already blogged about in earlier posts.  But here's the inside scoop on our Arizona vacation.

Arizona was a trip we made the last few years to escape at least some of the early months of wind,
cold and snow, that chilly fall "slide into" winter.  It's a time when it seems that even the furnace can't keep the damp away.   Although we would have loved to explore further afield, our trusty Irish Terrier was beginning to show signs of age and really wouldn't have done well in a kennel.  So instead he rode in luxury with the backseat raised and thick padding on the floor where he could snooze between rest stops.  With his travel bag beside him and content from the inevitable treat he received from the customs officer as we crossed the border, he was settled in for the trip.  It worked out well, we got our vacation and he got to come along.  In fact, we'd expected that he would travel with us again this year but we found out a few weeks before departure that that wasn't to be.  So we're missing our little Irish this year.

Meantime, we're halfway through our time in Arizona and the house we're staying in is feeling a bit like home - a home away from home.  But it only has two bedrooms and no den so when a friend came to visit, the spare bedroom I was using for office space was no more and I moved - literally, into the closet.  Fortunately it's a walk in closet off the master bedroom.  Unfortunately, its proximity is right next door to the bathroom and adjacent to the shower.  Not exactly plush surroundings as my laptop must be slid just so under the lower bar normally meant to hang clothes and I have to push the chair back carefully to miss my half open suitcase.  Yes, I've been here a month and still I haven't completely unpacked.  But in another month we'll be heading home, so now I call my state of unpacking, a time saving measure.  

Now the spare bedroom is again free but I'm beginning to like my time in the closet.  Maybe I'll stay for another week or two, or three.

Where do you do your best work?


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Through the Looking Glass

I've never had to seek out dental care out of country before but this time a broken tooth left me no choice.  I discovered that in Arizona dental prices vary wildly, in fact one quote was twice the price of where I finally got the work done.  So, after saving all that money I decided to cash in on their teeth whitening deal.  Yes, there are the week's deals painted on the window - something you'd never see at home because there are no deals.  Now, my smile is whiter, I've seen three episodes of Storage Wars, whether I wanted to or not, and I've survived another trip to the dentist.  

Later in the week, while at a shop trying to mail the last contest prize to the winner in England I ran into a few small problems.  I should have known right off that there would be trouble from the fact that the clerk greeted me with a pained expression and clearly had better things on her mind than anything I might propose.  So it began, first it was the gel pen that smeared on the envelope's plastic surface.  I asked for a label to cover the smeared address and the clerk stuck her finger on the address and smeared some more, I assume to ensure my claim that it needed a new label at all was valid.  Sigh.  It took a few more minutes, despite looking at the label a few times and my asking for overseas prices to get this to London, for her to realize that the package was going to England.  That caused a lengthy discussion with her co-worker, a massive amount of typing and various pained expressions before she determined that sending a small envelope holding one paperback book to England would cost a little less than one hundred dollars.  At that point there was the distinct feeling that Alice and the looking glass might be standing beside me.  So, twenty minutes later with mailing my package a failed mission, and biting my tongue down to a fine art - I left with plans to visit the United States post office on Monday.  From what I found online, their rates are more in the realm of reason.

So enough of dentists and over-priced postal options, it was off to golf at a local course in Gilbert .  It's an easy course but an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.  The only ones rushed are the ducks and other birds, and even they don't put too much effort into getting off the green and back to the water as we approach.  

After golf we stopped for something to eat at Uncle Bear's.  Uncle Bear was, so the story goes, a dog.  And the walls in this casual chain restaurant are papered with dog pictures.  Which is fine, I love dogs.  However, having just lost my beautiful Rourke what I wasn't prepared for was not the wall of pictures of dogs but what was in the middle, a picture of a pet cemetery.  Then I noticed that some of the dog pictures had RIP's and dates.  I was looking at a dog graveyard!  Needless to say, I ate with eyes fixed on anything but that wall.  What are the odds - and, really... who came up with that idea for a restaurant?

But what's really defined this week are the scorpions.  Two of them so far - one at the beginning of the week that wasn't much bigger than a centipede, a Canadian centipede anyway - and the second just yesterday.  Both met a squashy end but I'm beginning to shake shoes out and put them on every time I head outside.  No more, barefoot into the garage and, call me paranoid, but they're nasty and I'm not taking the trash to the bin at night either.  

Travel is always an adventure, nothing is what you expect and that's the fun of it all.  Better yet, it looks like it's going to be a nice day here in the San Tan Valley. 

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.



Sunday, November 1, 2015

I Almost Went On a Hike

The other day we headed out of the city and toward Arizona's Superstition Mountains and possibly a trail or two.  No, we weren't going hiking although I've made noises about doing that one day but dressed in a sundress and sandals isn't exactly in the smart hikers guide.  I suspect that guide might also state that you people who live in cities far away from desert terrain should stay well on the path.  But fortunately, there's a lot of well-marked path, enough to walk a quite a way up the trail - some of it is even concrete and blends into the reddish hue of the desert like it was as natural as the rock and sand around it.  I can't help but think as I'm surrounded by the harsh beauty of the Superstition mountains, how easy it is for hikers to lose their way and even their lives in this range.

It's a wildly beautiful place.  It's here where the legend of the lost Dutchman gold mine comes from and where people still come to search for the wealth it promises.  It's awesome hiking terrain but no place for the amateur or the unprepared.  So I'm sticking to the path but next time, I think I might come a little more prepared and try hiking some of those easier trails.

There's a little place here called the Superstition Mountain Museum and I've probably blogged about it on previous posts last year or maybe the year before.  But it's well worth at least one stop, to get a feel for the area and it's history and explore the gift shop with a plethora of local authors writing on the stories that emerge from the stark beauty of the mountains that surround them.  When nature tires you, although I'm not sure how it could, there's all sorts of jewellery and local handicrafts.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Just a "little" off the Beaten Path

A drive in the San Tan Valley the other day took us from the city to the countryside and it was only a matter of turning right instead of left.  Turn left and you head into the city, right and you're immediately in farm land, and on open road with quaint and unique at every turn.  

First up there's Cherie's Salsa.  Selling on the side of the road isn't uncommon here.  In fact we just passed a sign advertising Fresh Tamales hot out of the back of a truck.  But it is another cardboard sign that we're watching for.  Cherie's Salsa proudly advertises on a roadside sign just ahead of her SUV that has  the hatch thrown open and a gaggle of friends gathered around keeping her  company.  It's definitely worth pulling over and getting some of the best Salsa we've found so far in the valley.   Cherie admits to being up at two a.m. stirring up some of this fabulous salsa.  She's upgraded from a year or so ago when we first found her and she told me this was a temporary thing.  Now she has a business card and a presence on Facebook. 

From there we headed further into the countryside and find, what a surprise in the land of snowbirds, more snowbirds.  These snowbirds appear to be hardier than most for they're settled in on a barren tract of desert in RV's of all sizes right down to an Airstream no bigger than what most would camp in.  With few amenities, it's unique but I can't imagine what one would do on a blistering Arizona afternoon with only cactus and a view of the mountains to keep you company.

A little further down the road a small but quaint, bright red building stands out on the edges of a bone dry parking lot.  The Mexican Meat Market isn't a place I'd consider shopping at but DH discovered it a few days ago.  I'm glad he brought me along this time for the store itself is like I've travelled just a little further afield than Arizona and stepped foot into the heart of Mexico.  The store is alive with conversation spoken in rapid fire Spanish and foreign smells that are pleasant yet unfamiliar, permeate the place.  There's only two short aisles and they're crowded with familiar and not so familiar products.  I'm drawn to the cooler where Arizona Iced Tea occupies most of the shelves.  And I'm amazed at all the flavours.  Who knew that Arizona Iced Tea comes from Brooklyn, not Arizona, or that there are many more than the two types shipped north!  I happily went home with the regular and a Mango flavoured as well as a strawberry.  I hesitate at the pecan and bubble gum popsicles but manage to resist.  And the Carne Asada we came for  - delicious.  

Next door to that in this lonely dusty parking lot fronted by rural landscape and rough trailer homes - was a pizza place.  Dust coloured it seemed to sink into the desert lot that surrounded it.  Unfortunately, there's no picture for as we left, what I assume might have been the owner was out with his barbecue in the middle of the dusty parking lot, keeping an eye on us and what he was cooking.  I suspect pulling out my camera might not only have been an invasion of privacy but confirmation of the fact that we were just as shady as he seemed to suspect.  Really, we weren't.  But that aside, you know where we're going to check out pizza and beer on our next journey... turning right - not left.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Diners Drive-in's and Breakfast

While we've made our destination, Arizona, here's the last of our on-the-road stories.

As our trip headed to Vegas a slight hiccup with the GPS had us parked on the freeway leading into Las Vegas as traffic inched forward and what appeared to be a traffic accident miles ahead kept us blocked.  It was thirty minutes before we were able to escape onto a potential off- ramp and then found a parking lot to reconfigure the GPS.  Of course, with the hazards of travel, it was a parking lot in what I suspect was one of the more eclectic places in town.  The buildings were grey and rather dilapidated, the people rather worn and each of them appearing like they might have a very unique story, and us, the tourists that didn't fit.  It was fifteen minutes before we ended up at our hotel, another thirty minutes before we escaped the long registration lineup and continual offers that seem to be pressed on newbies, and made the long ride to the 21st floor.  And twenty minutes before we were heading back down lo the lobby area, looking for lunch.

Vegas changes every time I see it.  But it's always entertaining.  While none of the shows we might want to watch were featuring in our brief stay, we enjoyed people watching on a sidewalk cafe, playing a game or two or blackjack, a fantastic meal or two or three, and left Vegas ready to head onto a new adventure.

The next day it was one of those mornings where another hotel breakfast left us cold so we hit the road minus coffee - not a comforting experience in the hope of finding something on the road - Starbucks maybe.

This time it's through to Arizona and the San Tan Valley but first a stop for breakfast in Boulder, Nevada.  The part of Boulder, Nevada that we drove through was unique, from the wooden sidewalks to the antique metal car sitting on top of an antique table bracketing the sidewalk and facing off another pile of antiques.  I couldn't imagine what might be inside the shops as these precious memories of the past were doomed to sit outside.  But it was early, the shops closed, and the main thing on our mind was breakfast and the Coffee Cup Diner that was featured featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

There was no indication that the infamous television show had even graced the place.  But there were tons of pictures of vintage water skiing and an army of real water skis of all vintages hanging overhead and on the walls.  And in the midst of all that overwhelming nostalgia there was a diner filled with locals and two tourists that just happened to straggle in off the interstate.

Seated at table with the old diner style counter running behind us, service was prompt.  And when it arrived, even the toast was something to rave about - rye bread didn't mean white bread with a bit of flavour but instead bread with thick dark wedges of taste woven through it.  The potatoes, wait for it, were peeled and cooked, not out of a bag and the bacon was thick and tasty.  The omelette, well I'm a small and slow eater, let's just say I was still eating long after hubbie was done.   It was the best breakfast I've had on the road in a long time.

There's always something unique on the road.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Suspect Witness - A Preview

Suspect Witness is my first romantic suspense to be published by Harlequin Intrigue.  It's scheduled for release in February 2016 and I have to say that I'm getting "a little excited" as the date approaches.

I just got a peek at the cover today.  At first I paused.  Its odd to see your hero's face for the first time  as up to now he's only resided in my mind.  When I first saw the cover, those first few minutes held both elation and I have to admit, criticism.  I thought that my Josh is more poised, less hard planed than the face I'm confronted with but within a few minutes as I thought about the hero, the Josh Sedovich that I knew, I realized that he had an edge that is so clearly portrayed in the cover.  He's a man of passion and of action, but he's also a man charged with the impossible as he fights his way with the heroine through the depths of the Malaysian rain forest.  Josh Sedovich is the man in the cover, a man of grit, passion and heart.

The leader of a deadly biker gang is murdered and the witness, who can now reveal the secret of their lucrative offshore funding, is on the run.  To protect her secrets, Erin Kelley Argon has changed her identity and fled halfway around the world.  

CIA agent, Josh Sedovich tracks Erin to Malaysia but he's not the only one who has found her.   A car bomb is the first sign that her cover is blown.  In a desperate flight through Malaysia, as he gains her trust and passion threatens to rage out of control, will he be able to get her safely home to the States before the assassins on their trail take them both out?

This is my blurb and not the professional polished version that will actually grace the book cover.  But it serves the purpose, gives you an idea - a teaser, if you will, of what the story is about.  And it's available in just a few short months - February 2016, mark your calendars.