Late Summer in Tucson, Arizona

Painted Lady butterfly
Painted Lady butterfly enjoying the lantana in our garden.

Its been a busy summer here in the desert southwest but things are winding down as we approach the fall equinox. Butterflies are everywhere these past couple of weeks as they migrate to their winter home. It’s a beautiful sight.

Had a couple of great egrets hanging around this summer too. The dogs didn’t know what to make of these gorgeous creatures who usually spend their time at the nearby Santa Cruz river.

White Great Egret
This graceful Great Egret decided to pay us a visit this summer.
White Great Egret
Great Egret showing off in the summer sun.

And even though it was outrageously hot in the Sonoran Desert I still got some baking done. What can I say? Bakers gonna bake. ūüėú

Cranberry pecan bread
Cranberry pecan bread.
Mushroom galette
Mushroom galette.
Mushroom galette
Warm mushroom galette with garlic and Parmesan in a flaky crust. Who cares that is was 110 degrees outside?
Peach Galette
Peach galette using local farm fresh peaches.
Glazed Apple hand pies
Glazed apple hand pies made with hand picked apples from Apple Annie’s in Wilcox, Arizona.
Sourdough bread
Sonoran sourdough bread hot and fresh out of the oven.
Bacon and cream cheese stuffed jalape√Īo poppers
Bacon and cream cheese stuffed jalape√Īo poppers because it’s finally football season again!

The September full corn moon was especially beautiful this year – bright reddish orange when rising and setting, and glowingly golden when it was high in the night sky.

September 2017 full corn moon.
The September full corn moon glowing behind the shadows of a palm tree. September 7, 2017. Tucson, Arizona.
September full corn moon
The September full corn moon riding high in the night sky. September 7, 2017. Tucson, Arizona.

As usual, summer sunsets provided intense and glorious color to the Tucson sky.

Sunset in Tucson
Pale purple and pink clouds amid the Saguaros in Tucson, Arizona.
Arizona monsoon sunset
Monsoon rain at sunset. Gates Pass, Tucson, Arizona.
Arizona sunset.
The summer sun sets behind a giant Saguaro cactus in Tucson, Arizona.

As for me, I’m thoroughly enjoying the last week of summer while at the same time ¬†hoping today is the last 100 degree day of the year. And so looking forward to the gloriousness that is autumn in the desert – gorgeous sunny days, cool nights and plenty of outdoor activities.

IMG_8231
Reading a good book, sipping chai tea and enjoying a late summer morning in my backyard.
IMG_8066
Goodbye summer, Hello fall.

 

The Sweet Sound of Tibetan Singing Bowls

I have a love affair with Tibetan singing bowls. I play them daily as part of my personal yoga and meditation practice and also use them in the classes I teach. They are mesmerizing and undeniably relaxing.

IMG_6899

In his book How to Heal with Singing Bowls, author Suren Shrestha explains that quantum physics has proven that everything has vibration, whether it’s a table, a chair, a person, a planet, or a cosmos. And wherever there is a sound, there is a vibration. When we use sound coupled with intention, which is the most important aspect of healing, we can direct sound vibration to raise the body’s vibrational frequency.

IMG_7151

According to Tibetan oral tradition, the existence of singing bowls dates back to the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni (560 – 480 B.C.). The tradition was brought from India to Tibet, along with the teachings of the Buddha, by the great tantric master Padmasambhava in the 8th century A.D. (Bodhisattva.com)

Singing bowls are used worldwide for meditation, music, relaxation, sound therapy and personal well-being. ¬†They are¬†played by striking the rim of the bowl with a padded mallet, or by the friction of rubbing a wood or leather wrapped mallet around the rim of the bowl which emphasize the harmonic overtones and a produces a continuous ‘singing’ sound. Different bowls correspond to different chakras and produce different notes on the musical scale.

IMG_7106

Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in New York explains the use of sound for healing like this:

“If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of ¬†our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.‚ÄĚ

IMG_7160

If you attend one of my yoga or meditation classes, you will likely hear me play at least one, possibly two or more singing bowls. It’s my favorite way to begin and end practice. Soothed muscles and a soothed soul Рwhat could be better than that?

 

Week 5 Backyard Remodel – And We’re Done!

IMG_7783After five weeks of demolition and construction we are finally done with our backyard remodel and couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.

This backyard shouts “party over here!” It’s a perfect place to entertain during our beautiful desert nights – and just in time for the summer solstice.

IMG_7766IMG_7771IMG_7767IMG_7769IMG_7726

We kept the furniture simple and comfy and used colorful Talavera accent pieces and pottery to decorate with. Our style is a bit ecclectic – Buddah and Buddhist prayer flags share space with St. Francis and pagan gods and goddesses.

IMG_7770IMG_7775IMG_7772IMG_7781IMG_7778

IMG_7794IMG_7793IMG_7796

The dogs are certainly enjoying their new surroundings too.

IMG_7708IMG_7737IMG_7779IMG_7782IMG_7784IMG_7785

And when the sun starts to set, its adds a whole new vibe to the place.

IMG_7791IMG_7792IMG_7765

Here is a before and after shot. We enjoyed many years in our “before” backyard and are looking forward to many more in our “after”.

IMG_7725

 

June Full Strawberry Moon

June Full Strawberry Moon. Tucson, Arizona.
Photo by Cindy Devin

June full strawberry moon in Sagittarius. June 8, 2017. Tucson, Arizona. Six different wild fires currently burning in SoAZ are creating a hazy, dreamy film for the last rays of sunlight to catch on this full moon night. While beautiful, it can also be deadly. Sending prayers for rain and favorable winds to assist the firefighters fighting the fires and the families who live in their paths. Stay safe.

And, as we approach the summer solstice in Tucson, hoping for an above-average rainy and life-giving Monsoon.

June Full Strawberry Moon. Tucson, Arizona
At twilight under a smokey wildfire sky. Photo by Cindy Devin
June Full Strawberry Moon. Tucson, Arizona
And later in the night when she rose higher in the sky. Photo by Cindy Devin

Happy full moon. ¬†Woo Hoo, it’s summer in Tucson!

IMG_7658
Image via Pinterest
IMG_7659
Interest via Pinterest
IMG_7660
Image via Pinterest
IMG_7661
Image via Pinterest
IMG_7662
Image via Pinterest

Week 3 Backyard Remodel – We’re Getting There!

IMG_7630
Harley surveying his domain from the newly laid brick.

Finished week 3 of our backyard remodel and are heading into the home stretch.

The seating and walls have been painted and the flagstone toppers measured and cut.

IMG_7626IMG_7623

And the brick! So happy with the brick work. The colors are gorgeous and I’m loving the three different sizes and pattern.

IMG_7636IMG_7635

IMG_7615
Kylee (our 2 1/2 year old cockapoo) checking out the comfiness of the newly laid brick. She is an old-soul and as loyal as they come. Love this mut. And the brick. ‚̧ԳŹ

And the dogs are still supervising the project.

IMG_7612
Kona, the baby of the bunch, walking the job at the end of the day.
IMG_7616
Allie is testing her camouflage superpowers during construction.
IMG_7629
Luna Bella is going to be sad when the job is finished and she has no more sand to roll around in.

Week 2 Backyard Remodel – Dirt, Dust & Noise

Troy and I love quiet mornings on our patio. Chai tea for me, coffee for Troy, puppies playing and birds chirping in the shade trees under a stunningly beautiful blue Arizona sky. No shit, that’s how the mornings are around here for most of the year. Totally zen and pretty much heaven. A perfect place to write, read, nap, do yoga and eat breakfast.

But for now that peaceful little scenario has been shattered. It’s noisy, dirty and dusty — on steroids. The dogs think rolling around in the dirt is a competitive sport and every time I turn around they are dragging bits of debris inside. There is dirt in every corner of the house and it’s wreaking major havoc with our sinuses.

On the plus side the walls and seating have been built and stuccoed; the fire pit is almost finished (and looks amazing) and the whole yard is shaping up like we envisioned. Things are progressing on schedule and (for the most part) we’re staying within budget.

I think we are going to make it through this project with our sanity intact and I’m still convinced the mess is going to be totally worth it.

IMG_7599
Luna Bella is can always be found playing in the dirt.
IMG_7597
Seating and walls have been stuccoed and are ready to be topped, painted and inlayed with Talavera tile.
IMG_7600
Fire pit.
IMG_7601
Fire pit gas ring.
IMG_7602
Boulders have been placed.

Week 1 Backyard Remodel

Week 1 of our backyard remodel is finished and a lot of progress has been made. The grass has been cleared, trenches dug and block for the seating and retaining walls has been delivered and is ready for installation.

IMG_7545
Bella and Rylee soaking up the sun in the area that used to be grass.

Holy cow РI knew this remodel was going to be a messy process but I totally underestmated how messy. Keeping six dogs clean for the next three weeks is going to be impossible. With all the dirt and dust tracking in to the house my vacuum has become my best friend.

IMG_7535
Goodbye grass – removing sod isn’t easy or pretty. And very messy – the dogs keep bringing clumps of it into the house.
IMG_7566
The backyard looks a lot different with no grass.
IMG_7561
So happy with the Talavera tile we chose to accent the brick and block work – it’s called Guadalajara.
IMG_7560
Troy painting a new privacy screen for the jacuzzi.

And even through the mess and dirt things are beginning to take shape. Watching our vision emerge is a lot of fun and it will totally be worth it in the end.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A New Backyard

There is a major backyard re-do underway at our house. We spend a lot of time in our backyard and want to create an outdoor living and entertaining space we can enjoy year-round.

When we bought the house in 1997 our needs were different. We installed a large grassy area for our kids to run around and play in and that grass served us well for many years.

Here are some photos of our backyard in 1998 when after we laid the sod and planted the trees.

However, ¬†it takes a lot of precious water and a huge amount of maintenance here in the desert to keep the lawn green, healthy and vibrant. ¬†I’m talking a shit ton of maintenance. And seriously, who wants to mow that much grass? It is so not fun mowing in the summer months when the temperature regularly passes the 100 degree mark and lands in the hundred and teens. And don’t even get me started about the mosquitos during monsoon season. Ugh.

And so, 19 years later, the time is right to build a new backyard in the style we’ve been dreaming about for a while: a mix of Southern California/Santa Barbara/hacienda courtyard with Mexican, Spanish and Mediterranean influences.

Elements include an extensive brick patio, built-in seating, fire pit and textured retaining walls. We’ll add a large market umbrella for shade, Talavera tile and pottery, ¬†and dreamy and subtle lighting for when the sun goes down.

IMG_7531
Here is an example of the type of seating and firepit we are going to incorporate into our new backyard design. The materials will be different but the general idea is the same. Photo credit: Pinterest.

We’ll be keeping the jacuzzi, all six existing trees and planting colorful (and drought tolerant) plants such as bougainvillea, lantana, rosemary, statice and more.

IMG_7532
With so many beautiful Talavera tile options choosing one is going to be difficult. Photo credit: sandiegorustic.com

Stay tuned for updates on the progress as we build our new dream backyard.