Category SunSpots blog

2017 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

This past weekend I volunteered for the 17th consecutive year with the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. It all started with a spur-of-the-moment decision on race day for the inaugural marathon in 2001 to head downtown and see what I could do. Three years later I was in charge of hundreds of “course marshals” and since I moved to Arizona, I’ve gone back every year to help out with the Relay Information Booth (which I created) and by driving the lead vehicle, and then a “sag wagon,” on race day.

This year we had a new sponsor for the lead vehicle, so it wasn’t “skinned” with a graphic wrap like it has been in years past.

OKCMM 2017 Lead vehicle

Besides HAM radio operator Tom Webb, a friend from my Air Force days, to keep us in touch with Race Control while we were out on the course, and Jon Hulsey, the Course Co...

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Fatigue, A Stalled Book, and Art in the House

Oy veh. What a week the last few weeks have been. Stress levels haven’t been just through the roof, they’ve been somewhere out beyond the orbit of the Moon, so my body’s said, “OK, I’ve had enough of this fun.” Welcome to knock-you-flat-on-your-back fatigue. To quote the lyrics from the ’70’s rock band Spirit, “It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong.” Boy, howdy.

That Stalled Book

I’d like to blame it all on the draft of book #3. Progress has come to a screeching, grinding halt. I shouldn’t be surprised: I knew, even as I was writing the second draft, that there were significant problems. Then my writers’ group found what they found, and my own read-through and analysis found even more.

OK, fine. I’ll interview my characters. That’s a technique that’s helped before...

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The Joys of Home Ownership

Ah, the joys of home ownership! Ah, the joys of acreage ownership!

Now that spring has sprung here in southern Arizona–more like summer with the temps we’ve been having lately!–I knew I couldn’t delay getting the tall dead grass around the house cut down, at least out to that safe distance insurance companies recommend for fire safety.

But! Not only do I have lots of TALL grass, I also have lots of loose rocks, and the combination of tall, dead, dry grass and rocks ranging from pebbles to head-size (and larger) hiding in said grass is not a good combination, especially mixed with the steel blades of my riding mower. Sparks + dry grass = fire = not a good thing. What to do? What to do?

Tall grass 1

Well, the first thing to do was to go tromping through the grass, looking for as many of those rocks, esp...

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House Guests and Book News

House Guests

One of the reasons I built my new house the way I did was so I could have house guests, and now I have. Last Monday I was pleased to have friends John and Karel spend the night on their way back to Albuquerque. They had been marshaling at the PGA golf tournament in Phoenix, and since John is also the Southwest Region President for AFA, he uses the trip to also visit the four chapters in the state, including mine here in Sierra Vista.

Before they arrived, however, another visitor came. His name is Padraig, but like many Irishmen, he prefers to be called Patty. Patty’s an interesting sort. Rough-hewn. Despite my persistent requests, he insists on staying outside. “Sun or snow, rain or blow,” he says, “my place is out of doors, lad. I’ll be fine...

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Book 3 Draft 3, New House News, and Cookies!

A lot has happened since I posted last, especially regarding draft 3 of book #3.

Book 3 Draft 3

Shortly after the first of the year I began the process of getting ready to write draft 3 of my third book, working title Guardians. The first step was to read draft 2 from beginning to end to get a sense of the state of the story. And the results were what? Twelve-plus pages of hand-written notes, that’s what.

Step 2 is to go through all of the feedback I’ve gotten from my critique group and consolidate their comments onto one document. How much is that? This much.

The stack of draft 2 feedback

It’s hard to see the markings on the ruler but the stack is over six inches high. And since I’m looking at feedback from eight different people, I need to spread out. A lot...

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Catching Up–House News, Sort-of White Christmas, Book Sales

Miller and Carr Peaks

“They” say that catching up is harder than keeping up, so WHY did I stop blogging, putting me in this position of trying to catch up on everything all at once? I have an idea, but I’m not going to bore you with it. Time to get back in the saddle.

New House News

Remember that window that thieves broke to get in back in October? It’s STILL not fixed. I wrote about how the glass company, MilGard, sent the wrong glass in the wrong size. What I didn’t write about was that after my installers took it back, MilGard sent the wrong size AGAIN! Then claimed they couldn’t possibly have made a mistake. On the third try, they got it right… but then last Friday the installers brought the wrong glass. You should have seen the hang-dog looks on their faces when they told me. All I could do was laugh...

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Fight the Power (Company)–and Burglars

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been tied up preparing for a hearing of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) on a rate hike package requested by the local power company, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (SSVEC). I’ve written before about how they were trying to raise the rates on folks like me who have solar panels by crazy amounts, and how a group of us have been fighting this. Back in May I went up to Tucson to testify at a hearing on the case run by an administrative law judge.

Electrical towers

Photo by Luis Relampago, via freeimages.com

Earlier this month, Judge Martin finally released her “Recommended Opinion and Order” (ROO). We were delighted to see that she largely sided with those of us who opposed what SSVEC wanted to do.

But there was one more step in the process...

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Spider Update

I have no idea why or how Facebook chooses the photos it does from this blog to feature there, but the close-up photo last time of my unwanted visitor

Spider Close-up

sure got lots of attention. Thanks to all my Facebook friends for their comments and suggestions.

The latest news is that on Tuesday or Wednesday morning, I stumbled bleary-eyed into the kitchen only to discover a critter looking much like the one in the photo hanging out in the sink. OK! I’m awake now!

While it looked a little smaller than the one I’d seen previously, I really wasn’t interested in getting out a ruler to check. You can imagine.

But no matter, it looked like it wasn’t having much luck climbing the vertical, apparently slick (even for it) walls of the basin, and since that happened to be the basin with the disposal at the bot...

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Life on the Urban Interface–Sharing the Space with the Wildlife

Apologies for not having posted in a while. Between spending a week in the Washington, DC, area and dealing with getting the old place ready to put on the market, there hasn’t been much time or mental energy left over for posting.

Anyway, since even before I moved in, I’ve been asked if I’ve seen any wildlife. Until recently, the answer was no. Folks on the construction crew had–deer, a bobcat–but other than the birds that are around all the time and the lizards that climb the walls as if they were horizontal surfaces, I hadn’t seen anything interesting. At least not on the property.

I had seen a couple of mule deer trying to cross the state highway that leads to the entrance to this development one morning, and a few miles farther south I’d seen a wild turkey hen and her four chicks runni...

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Moving In–Ten Years After

While this post is NOT about the circa 1970 British blues/rock band Ten Years After, it is about moving in and ten years after. I’ll answer the question, “After what?” a little later.

The last three weeks have been, well, chaotic. As I wrote last time, I was moving from the old house to the new one the way Johnny Cash built his Cadillac: “One piece at a time.” Which is a lot harder to do than it might seem. At least, it was for me. Not harder physically, although there was plenty of toting and hauling. In fact, with apologies to Ned Washington and Dimitri Tiomkin, I came up with my own version of the Rawhide theme:

Movin’, movin’, movin’,

Keep them boxes movin’,

Movin’, movin’, movin’,

Boxhide.

Pack ’em up, move ’em out, move ’em in, pack ’em out,

Pack ’em in,

Boxhiiiiide. Yaah!

OK, great ...

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