The Blessing of Our Last Home

On June 18th, I wrote a post called The Mixed Blessing of our Last Home. That seems like ages ago. Now we are a month away from closing on our new home, and we are eager to do that. We will miss our Sonoran Desert sunsets, and the nearness of the mountain ranges that surround Tucson, but we are happy that we have buyers who seem to see the goodness in this Arizona home and we are ready to step aside and let them create what they want in this spot. Soon they will live in this home and make it theirs.

Soon Ron and I will take off on our new adventure. Our move will be striking. We will be driving from Arizona to Ohio. We are moving away from a pleasant modern house, built in 2006 in a community of similar homes, to an 1855 Victorian lady in a small town just a few miles from the eldest of my three brothers. I am excited to be near my family again, and I am excited to have a house with a wrap around front porch and a formal dining room!

My husband has visited my family in Ohio, and when he was a little boy, he and his mother rode the train between Tucson and Delaware several times across the northern part of Ohio. I haven’t lived in Ohio since the summer of 1982, and I haven’t lived in a place with a noticeable winter since the early months of 1988. We have had a lot of fun talking about the Ohio adventure that is our last house.

Ron loves to garden, and we have had long talks about what we want to plant in the front and back yards. We have talked of planting roses, tulips, crocus, and some of the wildflowers that my Dad loved: Bloodroot, Lily-of-the-valley, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Solomon’s Seal; and then more roses, tulips, and crocus. We have talked about trees we might like to plant, like the white Dogwood that was in our front yard when I was growing up and, perhaps, to remind me of my 24 years in Columbia, South Carolina, even a Magnolia.

We are leaving our Arizona small town, ten miles southeast of Tucson, which has required us to drive up to Tucson every time we want to buy groceries, go to the bank, church, or library. We are moving to a small town where many of those things are less than a half mile walk from our new home. This will be a culture shock – albeit a culture shock that we are excited to embrace!

We are looking forward to inviting family and friends to visit us; in fact, we have already issued quite a few advance invitations. I look forward to getting reacquainted with old school chums and friends with whom I used to work while making new friends as we learn more about our new town. To make up for the amount of packing and bone-tired-weariness we have lived through in preparation for this move, we have promised each other that we will unpack at whatever still-life-leisurely pace we choose.

We are excited about having a basement which we can turn into studio space. Actually, into several studio spaces! For many years, when I lived in South Carolina, I had a part-time jewelry business called Uncommon Adornments which I later turned into a full-time venture after attending a medieval goldsmithing course and adding a division called Phos Hilarion which featured individually handcrafted pectoral crosses. After Ron came into my life, he helped me with this venture and made the beautiful crosses you see in the pages below. Both of us are looking forward to making jewelry again. I closed the business years ago when we were getting ready to move to Arizona. So the website is no more – but I created a Facebook page. You can find it here:

Facebook Phos Hilarion – Home

be sure to check out the studio, jewelry and cross photos here:

Facebook Phos Hilarion – Photos

In addition to the jewelry studio, we are carving out a dedicated space for Ron to paint. In Arizona, when he wanted to paint, he took over the kitchen. In Ohio, we will have plenty of space. There already exists a regular workshop space in the basement which we may just use as a fix-it workshop, and in the remaining space, I plan to create a dedicated sewing area where projects don’t need to be put away before anyone can start to make dinner. I used to have fun creating items for my SC houses – valances, curtains, cushions. With our 1855 Victorian I am sure there will be such projects again!

I think I mentioned earlier that this move was Ron’s idea. He got the idea that it might be good to move closer to my family. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that he thought to do this! To celebrate, Ron & I plan on getting into mischief, enjoying our new town, exploring some favorite old haunts of mine and discovering new ones of ours.

I look forward to taking Ron to see some of my favorite places.  I think of Hocking Hills, Amish country which was always a favorite of my Dad’s (truth told, he loved the interesting old-time hardware stores and the restaurants with a fantastic choice of freshly made pies), Lake Hope, Lakeside, Dover and New Philadelphia.  We both look forward to luring our friends & family from near and far away to visit us in our last and best home.

To be honest, there were times I doubted this move would ever come to fruition. We had such a short window of time to find a buyer before we would lose the house in Ohio. But friends and family joined their prayers and hopes with ours, and this dream is finally coming to fruition. I told friends on Facebook that we might need a miracle and it seems a miracle is what we are getting. We sure have had a bundle of folks praying for us.

I haven’t written too much of late. I’ve had little time to do anything that isn’t related to our house showing, moving, selling or buying. It may be that time for writing will be scarce in the weeks to come as well. But I hope that you will stay with us, follow my blog, and give me your thoughts on our move or on our best, last home.

What flowers would you plant to adorn a Victorian lady like this?

Do you believe in naming homes and if so, do you have a suggestion for this home?

Do you have thoughts regarding our studio spaces or that incredible wrap-around porch?


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Sobriety, Depression, and Answered Prayers

A dear friend of mine wrote this — and it so touched my heart that I had to share. Thank you, Jami!

Sober Grace

It’s been a while! I haven’t updated my blog for quite a long time, for various reasons. Yes, I am still sober. No, I have not been going to very many meetings in the last year or so. That’s not because I am no longer focused on my recovery, I am. I’ve just found that after five and a half years, there are some other ways that I “practice these principles in all my affairs.” That said, I do want to get back to writing about recovery here, and I hope that those of you who used to enjoy reading this blog will get back into the groove with me.

So, there’s been a lot going on in my life in the last couple of months, some truly awesome things that I never thought would happen, despite the fact that I prayed about them daily. But first, I want to…

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Roadrunners and Javelina

My husband was brought to Arizona when he was just five years old and he has lived most of his life here. Before I moved with him to Arizona in 2012, I had lived and worked in Ohio, Switzerland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and South Carolina. An experienced traveler, I thought I knew about most critters both wild and domestic. My education was augmented by the spectacular film footage of the movie Princess Bride with its excellent documentation of Rodents of Unusual Size, aka ROUS. I thought that these combined experiences would suitably prepare me for life in Arizona. I was mistaken.

My nearly native Arizonan husband brought my daughter and me on vacation here a few years before our move. On that visit we first experienced the Saguaro Cactus and learned that they can easily crush a car or take out the wall of a house should they fall. We saw the various short scrubby trees whose branches resemble feather dusters. Such trees were new to this adult woman who was used to good sized leaves like any self-respecting mid-western child could collect and press between sheets of wax paper.

We went on picnics where I was introduced to the Greater Roadrunner, an omnivore, who can run at speeds of 20 miles per hour. We saw ground squirrels lying spread eagle on the shaded concrete patio floor of a local Cantina, trying to cool down from the desert heat. We saw huge foraging birds flying in circles over something dead in the desert. All of these were of interest to my daughter and me, but there was more.

Eventually, my husband and my then college-age-daughter persuaded me to move to Arizona from South Carolina. We rented a place while we looked for something to buy. People new to the area often have never seen anything like it and say ill-informed things like the young woman we met, who opined that we should bulldoze the Sonoran Desert and “do something useful with it.” My husband needed to quickly relocate himself so that he would not counter that ignorant statement with graphic Navy words.

There is no place quite like the Sonoran Desert. The houses that are springing up on acre after acre fill me with sorrow and my husband with anger. After about a year in our rental house, my daughter came to stay with us on her Christmas break from college. After much too long an absence, her remarkable godmother flew in from California to visit with all of us. We had a great visit, and all four of us went with our realtor to view a house our realtor thought we needed to see. Everyone convinced us that it was the house we ought to buy, and it was here that my Arizona education genuinely commenced.

Still smokers in those days, my husband and I would go out on the back patio late at night and in the early morning hours when it was dark. It was then that we would hear the coyotes howling and yipping in the park behind our home. We watched the birds of prey cruise low over our neighborhood’s backyards around dinnertime looking for a tasty small dog or cat to pick up and carry away for a picnic. A friend showed us the photographic evidence of a hunter who took down a mountain lion a couple of miles from where we live. Various neighbors told us of seeing Bobcats walking atop the backyard walls. In time, one walked atop our wall, jumped down, and explored our backyard – up close and personal.

However, nothing prepared me for the Collared Peccary or Javelina. I had seen a stuffed one in a store window in Tombstone. That was instructive as I saw the front teeth that

[photo courtesy of Neal Lutyens]

should never be underestimated. Our friends, whose yard is not walled, and which is next to a broad swath of desert land, have Javelina that come to their house and patio. But the scariest time was when some Javelina babies fell into their sunken walled garden, planted when they took out a pool long ago. Our friend thought that he would try to lift the babies up out of that three-foot hole. You know what they say – never come between a Mama & her babies. Close call, that!

I love the view from our yard; I love the Santa Rita Mountains just west of us. I love the cactus and sunsets that we see from our patio and which form the banner photo for my blog. But I have to say that the Javelina are a coat of a different color. I believe that my response to them should be to respect their power and teeth and keep a distance. Javelina remind me of the rodents of unusual size from the Princess Bride movie, but they also make me wonder whether the God of creation has a weirdly peculiar sense of humor.  What do you think?

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Bone Tired, Frayed Nerves, Great Kindnesses

During the last three or four weeks my husband and I have dismantled two beds and have arranged them and one additional bed frame along with two dressers, a nightstand, a couple chairs and some random furniture oddments compounded with a gazillion boxes which we packed & taped shut in one bedroom of our home. Then we closed that door.

We have packed another gazillion file boxes full of . . . Drum roll please . . . Files.  They have been parked in our kitchen, hugging one of the walls. We have taken down and carefully packed more family pictures than any reasonable person could possibly accumulate. We have emptied closets, drawers, cupboards, and filled suitcases, cartons, and garbage cans. We have hit rock bottom and taken naps. We have bought stock in Bengay when we discovered that all of our muscles were talking back to us. Our mental health is out to lunch. We can’t afford, nor would it be wise, to restock the cupboard that held the wines and spirits.

Extraordinary feats of micro-engineering, within small cartons, have been interrupted and put on hold, time and again, when documents had to be signed, initialed, dated, sworn to and then driven to the post office to be mailed with return receipts. Movers, Mortgage Loan Officers, as well as Realtors and Insurance Agents in two states, have proved indispensable, helpful, informative, worrisome, and nerve-wracking and on one occasion drove this woman to despair.   Every time that we try to take a break another obstacle occurs.

On the other hand, amazing acts of kindness and generosity have been showered on us. Deliveries of packing materials, boxes, and meals, along with kind words, encouragement, prayers, hugs, quietly humorous or wickedly amusing stories, cartoons, have been delivered to lift us up. Our dwarf fig tree kindly produced its first season of delicious fruit. We have had calls and emails from family and dear friends, along with an upcoming dinner invitation. We have been delighted with the photography prowess of our Realtor that has captured our home in ways that we hope will provide us with a buyer. Open Houses have been scheduled for people to view our home. A few helpful friends along with my thoughtful step-daughter have shared the real estate link of our home on their Facebook pages. A High School friend from the Mid West emailed the listing of our house to her cousins who are realtors in town. Our rather amazing pastor faithfully preached another spot-on sermon, addressing the texts of the day, in ways that were helpful and seemed to speak to our weary circumstances.

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night, got up and typed this narrative to update my friends and family and faithful readers of the sometimes scary adventure that is taking place in our little corner of Arizona. Having come nearly to the end of the page, and as it is still dark outside, I am going to see if sleep will visit me again.

Update:  I did get another couple hours of sleep.  I would ask you to continue to send prayers up to heaven and good vibes to Arizona.  We would be very grateful if you would keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  As we learned just this morning, this cross-country moving adventure is far from over!

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The Mixed Blessing of Our Last House

We are selling our house and moving. As a disclaimer, this was my husband’s idea. He loves me very much, and it occurred to him that the discrepancy in our ages might cause some difficulties for me in the future.

He returned home from his tour of duty in Vietnam when I was in second grade. His eldest daughter was born when I was not yet five years old, and his youngest daughter was born when I had been six for a few short months.

He is a thoughtful man, and it occurred to him that perhaps it would be prudent to move into a house in my home state where I have kith and kin.  I have specifically, three brothers, two cousins,  a flourish of inlaws and many friends of long standing from high school, church, and college.

I love my dear Arizona family, our many friends here, the quest for a church which prompted the name of this blog, and ultimately the church which found and nurtured us.  Then, too, there is the wild and remarkable land that is Arizona.  Despite all of these, I wouldn’t choose to stay in this sunny land if I were by myself. So, bless him, my husband made the call and said that he thought I would be happier nearer to my family, my old stomping ground, my old friends.

So this is it. Later today we will find out whether the house that appeals to us is the right house for us to purchase. My oldest brother and his wife will be going through the house with our realtor on our behalf.  Later today we may be making an offer on the house.  Not any house but our last house.

Then begins the bittersweet tasks of leave-taking, packing up, preparing and explaining why we are moving precisely two thousand and forty-two miles from our current to our last home.

It is bittersweet indeed. Leavetaking often is. We will not get to see our Pomegranate continue to grow strong and bear fruit. We will not be able to finish our plans for our quarter acre yard which included a rose covered pergola for dining out with friends.  We will not be present for the milestone celebrations of our Arizona friends and family.

We are excited about the prospect of a new beginning. We are eager to be close to my family and friends. But you will forgive me if I keep the cover picture for my blog. That is one of a million brilliant sunsets as seen from our back patio. A view I love and will never entirely leave behind.

Blessings are often bittersweet.   It is not wrong to care intensely about what you must leave behind.  It is not wrong to cherish sweet memories that touched and enriched your days.


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A Parsec of Stress Prompts Delicious Escape

The sum of our ages added to the dollars needed to get our house ready to put on the market, multiplied by the task of finding the very last house we intend to buy, squared by the 1400 miles from our present home to our potential new home, equals a parsec of stress. We all know that stress isn’t good for you, so my husband Ron and I put our two heads together and decided that we needed to escape for destinations both fun and delicious. We shut up the house and escaped.

Before we knew it, we were making online reservations, emailing some family members so that someone would know where the heck we were supposed to be, putting gas in the car, and packing travel stuff.

We headed north on a path that drove along the southern edge of Roosevelt Lake, formed in 1911 with the Theodore Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River.

For us, it was a lovely interlude of breeze, beauty, and wonder.But to capture the wonder — sometimes we had to pay attention to small details. Zoom in, if you will!We enjoyed Roosevelt Lake for miles and then crossed the bridge that spanned it. The bridge itself was spectacular!Then we continued toward our first day’s destination: Meteor Crater.  Talk about Big Things!(Truthful, but comic warning. This place is very windy. Anyone wearing Jean skirts should wear LONG ones!)

I don’t know quite where to start talking about Meteor Crater. Everything about it was epic! The museum connected with it was fascinating. Seeing exhibits which put into perspective the speed with which this meteor would have crossed the surface of the earth before landing was breathtaking. Glad we were nowhere around at the time.  But also breathtaking were the historical displays of early explorers of the crater, taking their camera equipment, and babies (!) on horseback down the rugged sides, to explore the impact area.That night we headed to our hotel on the outskirts of Flagstaff, on a street named Lucky Lane. This was in keeping with our moods.

In the morning we headed west to Williams, Arizona to catch the Grand Canyon Railroad for, of all places, the Grand Canyon.We rode in this Pullman car built in the early 1900s.

We were kept entertained and the scenery and company were terrific.

Finally, we arrived at the Grand Canyon. We have both been there multiple times, and my husband had even ridden the train before. But he wanted me to see and experience some things on my Arizona bucket list, and he thought I might enjoy the train. I did indeed! I also enjoyed the new experience of going to the Grand Canyon just as a couple which was a first for us.Isn’t it breathtaking?What about this one?

Even when you think you have some handle on the magnitude of what you are looking at, you discover something small that puts it all in perspective. Do you see them? They may look like bugs, but they are people, tiny hikers on the trail below. We counted eleven.After our visit to the Grand Canyon, we took the train back to Williams. Unfortunately, this was not as placid as the ride to the Canyon. Alas, and alack, robbers attacked our train!Truth be told even the bandits were entertaining.  They didn’t get money from us and eventually were apprehended. So that part was good.

When we returned to the station and headed out to our car, we walked by this train car which reminded me of reading a story to my little girl, many years ago.That evening, back on Lucky Lane, we had dinner for the second time at Cracker Barrel, just down the street from where we were staying. We had the good fortune to have Ryan H as our waiter for the second night in a row. Batting 1000.

Over dinner, Ron and I came to the decision that we were going to alter our plans. Is everyone sitting down? Yeah, well we were also sitting, and decided that we were going to stay an extra day, taking the third day to chill, before hitting the last stops on our whirlwind Arizona Bucket List escape. Chill we did, and it was lovely. We even got one last dinner at Cracker Barrel and got Ryan H as our waiter one last time. Ryan, if you are reading this, be sure your boss knows we think you need a raise!

Our last day involved a long drive and a beautiful bridge loaded with history. We drove to see Lake Havasu and the original London Bridge at its American home in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The original London Bridge was, in fact, falling down, and England built themselves a new London Bridge. Missouri engineer and entrepreneur, Robert Paxton McCulloch, bought the bridge and brought it to America.  In the picture he is standing with President Dwight D. Eisenhower.We loved that two flags were interspersed along the length of the London Bridge: The Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes.If you look very carefully, you can see that these stones are numbered for reassembly.I took this picture showing the width of this bridge. It is pretty amazing.

What is also amazing is the engineering of the rebuilt bridge. When the bridge was reassembled in Arizona, a steel framework was installed internally faced with the solid granite blocks, reducing the weight from 130,000 tons to 30,000 tons. This architectural change made the bridge strong enough for auto traffic, but much lighter. This London Bridge won’t fall down!

Take a moment to look at this walkway near the bridge.  A salute to our men and women in uniform.Lastly, read this terrific quote by Audie Murphy on that same walkway.This pretty much concludes our spectacular escape. What a remarkable trip it was! On our way home, we passed a few places of note. In Picacho, AZ, we got this picture of the sign for the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Farm. Always reminds us of one of our movie heroes, John Wayne.I hope that you enjoyed this little recap of our vacation.

Please share it,  leave your comments, and take a moment to follow my blog. Just hit the follow button in blue top right and leave me your email address. Many Thanks!

Happy Trails to you.

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2018 Memorial Day – Military Funerals – Call to Action

Cut to the chase – I want you to read this post, and I want you to share it as widely as possible. This is a call to action! Memorial Day is this coming Monday, and it is a time to pay tribute to the men and women who died while serving in the US Military. I’d like to relate a short story as background for my call to action. My dad lived to see 78 years and every one of his grandchildren. He did not die in the service of his country. He had served as a Master Sergeant in WWII in Patton’s Third Army, but I mention him because his funeral was on Memorial Day in 1994 and his funeral lit a fire in me focusing me on something we need to do for all of our veterans.

At my Dad’s graveside service, there were representatives from a local veterans group who gave a volley of rifle fire, but there was no bugler, and the veterans played a recording of taps on a tape player. This is the background for what I have learned since.

There is a volunteer group who will supply a bugler for any veteran’s funeral at no cost. They are a non-profit organization, called Bugles Across America.  If you care about our veterans, you may already support many worthy non-profits that provide various services to our wounded warriors. But I am asking you to consider donating, this weekend, to Bugles Across America.


Here are the links you need:

★    to donate – go to this page right now:
★    to request a Bugler – go to this page:

    If you want to read more about them – check out their Facebook page:

★    If you can play the Bugle, whether or not you have ever served in uniform, you may volunteer to play here:

If you are like us, nary a day goes by without organizations sending mail requests for donations. We recently got home from a short vacation, picked up our mail at the local post office, and took it home to discover there was nary a friendly letter – just two bills and about twenty requests for money. So, yeah. We get it.

But people who are willing to die to protect your freedoms are worth honoring. So, I’ll reiterate my call. Please. Whatever you can give, please give it today.  It will help keep this free service going, and it will give comfort to those who are left behind.

Please. Do this Now:
★    to donate:

Thank you for honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for you. Thank you for honoring all of our men and women in uniform by supporting this worthy organization.

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