Monthly Archives: February 2016

Rocks Galore in Tucson!


Last month I decided to visit just one of the 40 sites available to see fossils, gems, jewelry and beads! It was the Tucson Gem Show. I had always heard people travelled long distances to arrive in Tucson to buy their jewelry-making beads, and I guess others were looking for their special rock.

I had never seen so many rocks in one place! Some people wanted the perfect crystal for their special meditative place; others wanted a fossil or rock to add to their own collection. For me, I wanted to look at all the jewelry, choice of beads, fossils, gems, and I particularly loved the geodes. Some of them, HUGE! I cannot imagine cracking a large rock open and seeing its inside full of color and beauty!


Geode, almost as tall as me! What a beauty!

There I was years ago cracking Herkimer Diamonds in upstate NY; finding little “diamonds”. I was always wishing I would find something as grand as that pictured-above geode! Yikes! I probably would have been in shock even if I had discovered one of the smaller ones! (Still gigantic compared to my Herkimer Diamonds!)

There were 39 other sites around the city of Tucson to visit more of the Tucson Gem Show ….another year, another site; maybe. Although I understand some sites I will never be able to enter because I am not a big-time buyer and would need a special pass. That’s okay…these rocks were good enough for me to observe. If I had discovered them, I would have kept them … I am not one to buy a rock. I thought the fun was more in the digging and discovery of one, just one! And then I would keep it!

Yet who knows? Someday when I least expect it, a rock at a gem show may say to me, “This beauty needs a home!” (I remain open-minded, and maybe I should keep digging.)

The Tucson Gem Show is an annual event. Let me know if you are ever in the neighborhood checking out the rocks!



Use Your Head & Carry Medical Info.


We wear head protection in various places. For me, I wear a hard hat on location while volunteering at Habitat for Humanity and a bike helmet while riding my bicycle. Most times I am on my own riding or working with people who do not know me very well so it is important to have medical information easily available to them if I cannot provide it myself. Recently I became aware of the “Medical Information Carrier System”, MICS, available at

You write your medical information on the data form they provide, fold it up and insert it in their carrier (a small neon plastic piece you attach inside your protective hat/helmet). For others to know you have this information available, in case of medical emergency, you apply a MICS reflective decal on the outside left rear of your protective hat/helmet.

Now you are ready to have help available for you, if needed. Also, it is good practice to look on the left rear outside of helmets now…encourage others to get the medical information carrier system and/or to begin creating for yourself a first aid responder’s habit. Be safe!

Easy way to carry medical info in your helmet.

Easy way to carry medical info in your helmet.

Reflective Decal placed on left rear of the standard.

Reflective Decal placed on left rear of helmet…is the standard.

Four Minutes of Stillness! How to Achieve It…


I have heard it said many times, slow down. Or, rest is as important as exercise. And I have even participated in 21 day meditations where each meditative time is about 20 minutes… and they were a challenge! So why can I not turn my brain off? Why can I not be still for a few minutes? What can I do to solve this so I have the health benefits touted with meditative practice … although I actually would not mind going to a mountain top!

The years I backpacked alone in the Adirondack Mountains, or jogged/ran long miles during my 5km, 10km training days, or cross country skied on fresh snow at golf courses before others arrived, or whacked the crap out of a golf ball on Sunday mornings during my high school principalship years… those were the times my mind was still! Now, I am loving every minute of tennis, bicycling and volunteering, but I am not having moments where I can turn my brain off. And I decided that I really do need to solve this personal dilemma….so….here’s my plan……

Each morning I use my Mr Coffee maker and brew a cup of coffee. Simple. So, during the time the coffee brews I will focus on my breathing, and only my breathing until my coffee is brewed…I think the brew time is about 4 minutes…. What do I have to lose, nothing! And I always gain my cup of coffee, so it seems like it could be a win-win. Does this mean I actually have to do it for 21 consecutive days before it is considered a meditative success? or a crazy start to a habit? or simply 4 minutes of silence in the kitchen?

I hope I have success for 4 days; now that would be a start! Yet I will brew on and can always come back to the morning coffee/meditative challenge…or maybe I will take up running again?

Young People & Bicycles! Who Could Ask for More?


After a career of working with young people, it was with great satisfaction I could continue to do so while volunteering. Last week GABA members repaired at least 40 bicycles at a Tucson location. It was my first experience repairing bicycles for the young people who wheeled their bikes in with flat tires, broken shifters and/or worn brake pads into the gym where we hoped to solve their bike issues.

GABA members were organized in greeting the owner and recording the bike need, then they lined the numbered bikes up for the rest of us to work on as we were ready for the next bike. We knew we would work for 3 hours and during that time more and more bicycles kept arriving at the door; finally a sign had to be posted indicating no more bicycles could be considered on this day.

One young man walked around watching us complete various repairs. He was interested in learning as he watched. Some young girls hung around too so we had them pump up tires. It was great seeing them be involved!

Helpful girls pumping tires at bike repair.

Helpful girls pumping tires at bike repair.

Thanks to volunteers, many bikes fixed.

Thanks to volunteers, many bikes were fixed.

It’s Been 19 years At Least! 63 miles!?!


Call me crazy?!? It’s been at least 19 years since I had ridden a bicycle 60 miles. When I noticed most multi-day rides are at least 60 miles per day, I wondered if I can do that distance? Along came a GABA ride, the Owls Head Butte Century with an option of 63 miles; so today I went for it!

About a half hour car drive north of where I live was the starting point. Early to rise, eat a good breakfast and drive to the start with my partner. It felt like 40 degrees while we unloaded the bicycles so I had pants, long sleeve shirts, helmet liner and gloves. I was cold as I bicycled down the road! (The always say to not overdress at the start of a running or bicycle race, so I thought I should be okay.) Finally, at five miles into the distance I felt my heart warm up; 10 miles my arms. This was not fun for a person with Raynaud’s (poor circulation), yet I kept cycling. Fortunately the road beckoned me; just keep pedaling and I told myself I will warm up.

The frontage road is not my first choice of where to ride but I heard once into the desert things will look better. Fortunately, not much car traffic, I did not get caught with the train going through, so I could ride along and just think about how wonderful ti was to be outdoors and active.

First SAG stop, approximately 18 miles, I looked back to see Picacho Peak (nice hike there!). I ate plenty of food: banana with Nutella, M&M’s with nuts, Gatorade and trail mix. I filled my water containers, used the port-a-john and was on my way once again. Unfortunately, I was still cold! At 18.01 miles it dawned on me that I am 63 years old and riding 63 miles today. Anything to keep me distracted from how cold my feet still felt, or actually had no feeling. Finally at about 22 miles, my feet warmed up! Now to enjoy the ride. Wow, there were people passing me and I think they were bicyclists on the 104 mile ride. They made it look so simple and don’t those people wear any clothing? I must have looked like the Pillsbury dough boy with all my clothing!

Picacho Peak in the distance

Picacho Peak in the distance

This road was more enjoyable to ride. At one point a plane was flying toward me. I thought it was going to land right on the road as I bicycled toward it, yet I guess that was just part of the pilot’s lift-off an airstrip…wherever it happened to be I do not know. Plenty of Saguaro cacti, and various varieties of other cacti. Birds flew and no other creatures obvious from my bike saddle.

Next SAG stop, approximately 31.5 miles, I finally pulled off my long pants, a layer of long sleeves, ate plenty of rice crackers, banana, M&M’s and drank more Gatorade. I was looking forward to this turn-around point because it was to be downhill for about 10 miles, I guessed, or maybe simply hoped for at least that distance. Whatever it was, it felt great to fly along at 24 mph, especially considering my slog up this slight uphill was about 10 mph! My body weight, weight of all my bicycle gear and water allowed me to enjoy this fast speed. I was grateful!

Back at the first/now my final SAG stop, approximately the 45 mile point, I was back to reality in realizing my downhill ride was done. Fueled up again with rice crackers, M&M’s, and Gatorade; and making sure my water was topped off on my bicycle, off I would go. But before doing so, I was talking with some people and mentioned this is my 63 mile goal, a distance not done in the last 19 years. The woman caring for this SAG stop said, “Great, you are stretching your legs!” Well that became my mantra as I bicycled down this road; a road that seemed to never end. The mistake I made was to look at my odometer to many times along the way. It just seemed to creep….ever slowly! Darn! Yet, I was stretching my legs…that’s good, right?

Well I made it! Sixty three miles accomplished; raw butt, tired arms, ready for another snack and beverage, but I did it… probably all thanks to the support of the people at the SAG stops, my persistence in wanting to meet this goal, good weather, and my partner at least a mile ahead of me to keep me motivated in meeting her at the end! Enjoyed food at the final point, yeah! We did the 63 miles….and now to get out of these clothes, shower, and watch the Super Bowl!

Marcia on the ride

Marcia on the ride

Educate Me About Saladitos, Please.


You know how we joke about never seeing a particular red car and then all of a sudden you begin to see it everywhere? Well that is how I am feeling about saladitos?

I had no idea what they are, and actually I still have little idea. I had seen them at the supermarket and then at the drugstore. They hang in small and large plastic bags simply stating they are dried salted plums. Hmm…here in the southwest maybe it is an easy way to keep some salt in my diet, especially after a sweaty bike ride or tennis match. So I decide to actually purchase a bag.

Well, someone really needs to educate me about this food. Here’s what happened. I popped one dried salted plum into my mouth. They are salty! Very, very salty!! I think I took in enough salt to last me at least 2 days. Then I was looking for the plum….yes, it is dried …so much so, I had a difficult time getting any sense of a fleshy something. The pit seemed larger than anything so I rolled that around in my mouth. All of this activity lasted about one minute or less because the salt was just overwhelming!

I have a whole bag of these saladitos! What to do. I researched it on the web. Some people love these things! Some wrote about the fleshiness of them. What? Am I eating the same snack as these people? I see no recipe so I decide I will soak one dried salted plum in some water for a day. Okay, now I truly see no fleshiness to this item and it is no better in my mouth.

So please someone educate me about saladitos before I toss the bag! Thanks!

How to enjoy dried salted plums; let me know ASAP!

How to enjoy dried salted plums; let me know ASAP! Thanks!