Archive for the ‘Family & Friends’ Category

Car Problems

Car woudn’t start yesterday morning. Poor thing wouldn’t even turn over it’s engine, just kept blinking it’s running lights like it was sick. We couldn’t get ahold of the mechanic at the dealer because it was Sunday. Today we had to wait until past 7:00 to reach him. The good thing was, they sent a towtruck to get us and provided us with a rental for however long it took to fix the car.

We figure it was probably a battery problem because last Monday we took the car in for its check-up and oil change. They found the battery and cables were corroded. A new battery was installed, but no cables because they weren’t in stock. They were supposed to call us when they came in a day or two later. No phone call. I’m glad the car didn’t have any problems when we went up to Casa Grande on Saturday to have lunch with our son and his girls. I guess sitting in the garage overnight, did something to the cables.

Bad thing was getting the car out of the garage. The towtruck operator tried jumper cables but they didn’t work. When the battery goes out on these new cars, nothing works. We couldn’t even open the liftgate in back. Good thing we didn’t lock the car or we probably wouldn’t have been able to get in. The car finally was pushed out on some roller things and then loaded but it took an hour.

It’s very frustrating when you don’t have a car, but the dealer came through so we can make Kurt’s doctor appointment this afternoon. The repairs, the towing, and the rental are all covered by the dealer. We have a comprable rental although not an SUV so it’s hard for us to get in and out of it.

The mechanic should never have left us drive the car home until they had the parts, but they’re making good on all of it. Just that our morning was shot dealing with all this.




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Easter Picnic Memories


Easter was one of my favorite holidays, right up there with Christmas because we celebrated with the entire Díaz clan. The only thing that kept me going through the excruciatingly long Mass and having to sit through it in an uncomfortable new dress and shoes with a new hat that would be my church hat for the rest of the year, was the thought of the family picnic that waited for us afterward.


After Mass, my family headed for home to change into shorts, T-shirts, and tennis shoes and pack the pickup with ice chest full of soda, beer, and food. My aunts’ and uncles’ families did the same and soon we’d caravan out to predetermined picnic site. My favorite place was Big Lake even though it took us a long time to get there and we had to do it in stages with a stop at Cherry Lodge for a quick brunch.


Even if we didn’t make it to Big Lake, there were other places that were just as much fun, up the Frisco River past the pumping station where the father-in-law of one of my uncles worked, the hanging bridge on the Frisco, Mule Creek, Cherry Lodge, and Guthrie. My favorites were the ones that had a water source, whether it was a creek, a river, or a lake.


The moms and dads settled down on blankets and picnic benches after they unpacked the cars and trucks and us kids set out to explore. With twenty-six cousins, there was always someone to play with. We learned to fish for catfish with our hands, taught by Uncle Chelado who was an expert. We caught guppies in paper cups and built dams in the river to house them.


When it was time for lunch we lined up at whoever’s mom we thought had the best chile verde or chicken mole or frijolitos de olla. It was usually not our own mom because we were used to her cooking. Mama Teresita’s tortillas were prized by everybody so I always first headed to where she was to make sure I got my share.


Sometimes the family got the traveling bug and off we’d go on a road trip after eating lunch to the next place where we’d eat dinner. One memorable Easter we started off at Cherry Lodge, went to Big Lake, drifted off to New Mexico and wound up at Mule Creek. More often we stayed in one place and enjoyed both lunch and dinner there. A weinie and marshmellow roast over a bonfire was the perfect ending to an Easter family picnic. After packing up, we headed back home to Morenci, tired, but happy.

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Break In!

We came back from my brother’s house after two days of packing it up and having a yard sale. Unfortunately, someone broke into the house a couple of days before and took  a lot of the yard sale items including a TV and monitor. The rascals even stole the freezer food! We’re just happy they didn’t destroy anything.

They locked the  front door from the inside and left the French doors leading to the patio wide open. Apparently they pried a window open and then helped themselves. They packed the goods in suitcases and bags that were handy. The only damage they did was to slash trash bags open and spill the contents all over the back yard. Looking for drugs probably. It’s sad there are people like that in the world. If we’d driven around to another yard sale, we’d probably have found the little culprits.

At first we just walked around the house shaking our heads in disbelief, taking stock of what was missing, but then we rallied and moved on. No sense in even calling the cops. I believe in karma, the culprits will eventually get theirs. I hope they enjoy whatever pleasure they got from stealing, but I’m not going to dwell on it or wish them ill.

The funny thing is that my son and I both had premonitions that this would happen. On the way up to Phoenix, I saw the condition the house would be in. My son woke up thinking the same thing. My brother was a pastor in his church, let’s hope that some of his goodness rubs off on these young thieves through contact with his belongings.

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Little Lalo licked a Black King Snake that crawled into the kitchen yard yesterday, and Tito thought he was a snake and swallowed a round tail squirrel whole before I could stop him. The adventures of Ebony and Ivory in the desert.

I’ve blazed trails all over our two acres of Sonoran desert that wind around the mesquites, palo verdes, saguaros, ocatillos, and tall stands of nopales. The trails make our walks longer and the dogs love running the trails, but today, Tito was in a halter because of his behavior yesterday. If I hadn’t chased him all over our land, to try pulling the squirrel out of his mouth and seen him swallow it whole, I would never have believed it. He wound up in the front driveway and put his head up and gulped. Down went the squirrel. I don’t even know if it was dead or alive. All day I worried that Tito would get sick but today he was fine. After the incident yesterday, he ran to our boundary fence and barked furiously at the neighbor dogs that were barking at him. After their owner called them off, Tito pranced back to me as if to say, “See I protected you!”

Now about Lalo licking a snake—thank goodness it wasn’t a rattler. He was curious I guess, but it could have turned out differently if it had been a rattler. Lalo didn’t like what he tasted and backed away quickly, but a rattler could have struck him even faster. I’d seen the King Snake a few weeks earlier or maybe its mate, stretched across the path near the gate. I think it lives in the bushes under the mesquite tree. It crawled into the garden through the drain hole in our stuccoed hay bale wall. When Lalo backed off, I saw the snake vibrating its tail like it had rattles on it. It was trying to scare me into thinking it was a rattler.

My friend, Shirley, had a King Snake in her garden. She called a snake exterminater, but the snake was gone. He looked in one of her sheds and found three big pack rat nests, empty. Apparently the snake took care of the pack rats. He told her she should buy the snake a beer. Now she wants the snake to come back and live in her garden to keep pack rats away.

It’s the time of year when we desert dwellers (and people who live in the city) have to watch out for snakes. They love the heat and they’re out and about, unlike the human dwellers who go out in early morning before the heat of the day to run our errands. I’ve only seen three rattlers on our land in 13 years, one on the driveway that Kurt almost stepped on getting into the car, one in our garage, and a gigantic rattler on the low part of our land near the wash. Firemen took away the one in the garage and the others crawled off to who knows where, hopefully far away!

I hope Lalo had enough with the lick to know to stay away from snakes and Tito learned that swallowing squirrels whole can cause tummy aches. He finally threw it up that evening.

Tito & Lalo aka Ebony & Ivory

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There have been many losses in my life, my great-grandmother, my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, several cousins, my mother, my father, several friends, my birth town, my former homes, my second baby, and now this past week, a classmate and a dear friend.

Mike Stanley was a Morenci High School classmate. We didn’t hang out in the same crowd in high school, only said a few words to each other at reunions, but when I found out Mike had leukemia, I sent him a card I’d painted and he responded by email. We emailed back and forth a few times and he called me. We talked for almost an hour. We caught up on each others lives since graduating from MHS. Mike lamented, and I with him, that we hadn’t connected earlier because we both loved art. Mike had a stem cell transplant and for awhile it worked—probably gave him several extra months. He sounded so strong when we talked that I thought he’d beat the odds so I was surprised to hear from his partner, Bob, that he was in hospice. Mike sent me a last email before he passed but I never received a response to my long reply.

My friend Dena was a family friend we’d known since we moved to Petaluma in 1971. She was 90 years old and had cancer. You’d think that knowing her age, we would have expected her to go soon but it still came as a surprise. Dena was the lab clerk at the hospital where Kurt was the chief lab tech. She was a single mom, having lost her husband in an automobile accident. She raised her 4 children and supported them and her mother-law with earnings from her job.

We moved from Petaluma to Anderson Valley, but our friendship stayed true. Dena always referred to herself as Mama Dena when she wrote to us. We’d become her “adopted” children. She moved from Petaluma to the Bay Area when she remarried. She didn’t consider getting married until her last daughter was married. At that wedding, she introduced us to Gino and asked for our blessing. We were so honored and happy for her!

Dena took care of Gino’s mother until she passed away. They moved to El Dorado County and we used to go visit them there. In his last years, Gino suffered from post-polio syndrome so Dena took care of him. They always stood at their driveway to wave good-by and the last time we saw Gino, it was there on that driveway. The last time we saw Dena, she waved good-by to us by herself. We promised we’d come back as soon as we could to visit, but life got in the way. My dad had another heart attack and I was his caregiver until he died. In the meantime I had breast cancer surgery, then back surgery, but this summer we were planning to go see her again. We didn’t go soon enough.

Saturday at the Mujeres Writing Conference, Kurt came to videotape our “Unsung Women” performance and when we were alone in the hallway, he told me that he’d gotten a call from Dena’s daughter that she’d passed away. I broke down crying the same way I did for my mom and dad. Kurt apologized for telling me at that moment because he wasn’t going to do so until I got home. I’m glad he told me because at my friend Rita’s poetry workshop, I wrote an elegy for Dena.

Losing these two friends is a reminder to me of how precious friends are and to treasure every moment I have with them. Also, that I need to stay in touch more often with friends who are far away because one never knows what will happen.

Rest in peace, Mike!

Rest in peace, Dena!

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Yesterday time was right for me! I anticipated delivery of my new iPad, even had a dream about it. I greeted the UPS guy and signed for it. He told me he’d already delivered many and had more to go. I told him I much preferred getting it delivered to my door than standing in line at the Apple Store. I later heard on the news that the line formed at 3 AM. I couldn’t get the iPad out of the box fast enough! The first thing I did was to put it in the new leather case I bought for it to make sure it fit. It did. Then it was getting it set up with the Cloud and apps I wanted for it. Kurt got my old iPad and he set it up for his use. We had us an iPad day!

In the afternoon, I received a phone call to tell me I was the recipient of a prestigious award for my work in the humanities! Of course I was thrilled. To get public recognition for something I do out of love for the arts and humanities is like chocolate frosting on a doughnut. The announcement won’t come until early next month but as soon as it does, I’ll post it here. Thank you to my Comadre Linda Leatherman who nominated me and to my colleagues Rosi Andrade, PhD and Sally Stevens, PhD who wrote letters of support.

By evening I thought the day couldn’t get any better but as I was playing with my iPad, I got a phone call. My husband Kurt and I are going to be great-grandparents! Our granddaughter, Gabby is going to be a mom in October.

Three wonderful happenings in one day! The time was right for all of them!

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A week ago Saturday, I attended a Morenci girl wedding. Last Saturday, Kurt, Shirley, and I attended a Morenci Girl funeral. Janice Lawson Honea was a Morenci classmate up until our Sophmore year of high school. We last saw her last May at a Morenci/Clifton High School reunion. Before that we hadn’t seen her since she left school. We didn’t have much of a chance to catch up on each other’s lives at the reunion so I didn’t know that she had cancer. She was celebrating her birthday and was wearing a headband with crazy antenna thingees on it. She was still the quirky girl we knew from school–full of life and always smiling.

Janice Lawson

Janice Lawson Honea

Morenci Classmates

Morenci Classmates at a Reunion - May 2011

Shirley and I learned a lot about Janice’s later life at the funeral–we only wished we had been able to spend more time with her at the reunion. Janice was a spunky lady who enjoyed life and people. It was good to find out that the playful nature we knew her by in school was one of her trademarks in later life.

Attending a funeral is a sad occasion and one that I’m probably going to have to get used to from now on. It’s a reminder to me of how as I get older, my mortality looms closer. It’s a reminder not to take people being here for granted because they may not be here tomorrow. For that matter, I may not either.

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