Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tour of the Christmas Tree

This is not a complete tour of my tree, but it will give you an idea!

You can hum or sing carols as we go.....

Fa la la la la, la la la

I bought this several years ago. We had the same ornament when I was a kid and so it reminds me of my childhood. I like elves.

Again a memory from childhood.

We wish you a Merry Christmas.....

I bought some glass ornamanents in San Antonio while visiting my friend Robin a few years ago.

Isn't he cute?

A gift from the Hopkin family. Sorry it's blurry..

Hark the Herald Angels Sing!

More Angels

Another gift.. From Kelly Kilday Reimer, Rudolph
Rudolph with a broken leg.
Just for fun. A S'more snowman. And one I made years ago. Let's all sing the First Noel.....

The reason for the season..... And the fun of the season. A gift from my friend Michelle Porter Dahl.

And they saw a star.... And maybe a snowflake

A gift from Robin in Germany.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Candlelight Capers

I went to my first and likely last, big benefit dinner Saturday night. The beneficiary was the rural trauma outreach program and since that is what I do, it was in my best interests to be there. I must say it was interesting and I had an enjoyable time, but I won't seek out going again.

It was interesting seeing all the pretty gowns. You could tell those who had a lot of money had spent a lot of money on what they were wearing. My work group, while perfectly presentable, were more humbly dressed than the beaded and coutre gowns that went by.

If you look at the photo closely you can see the back of the Ogau's heads just behind us. It was fun to see them there. My boss is on the back right hand corner. Victoria and Anita finish the back row. The front row is myself, Sue and Sandy. Tami's husband was also there, but he was taking the photo for us.

It was a beautifully appointed room. The music was too loud. They had a band with several singers and a couple of girls who did temptation sort of things while the other folks sang. They were wearing long white dresses with elbow length gloves. They looked kind of silly to me.

I did bid on a couple of doggie items in the silent auction but didn't get them. My boss bid on and got, Dr. Detlefs to fly her and her husband in his plane to Sedona for a breakfast. Dr. Detlefs is very nice and they will have a good time.

For me, one of the funniest parts was when my boss entered into the live auction. She was bidding on a package that included flying on the Suns team plane with them on a 2 day road trip. She was really nervous as the bidding got up around 5000$. Her husband had mixed feelings. Dr. Ferrera was at the next table and was egging her on. It was pretty hilarious. He kept telling her if she went up another 100$ he would kick it in. What she really ended up doing was jacking up the price of the package for the guy who was bidding against her. Since it was all for a charitable cause, it was ok.

They had 2 Golden Retreiver puppies that went for 7000$ and 5000$ a piece. At the end of the package deals, the auctioneer was soliciting donations. I was amazed at people dropping a 20,000 or 10,000$ donation. I won't ever be running in that crowd.
The funniest story I heard about the evening, Victoria told me the day after. She and Anita had come together and they left at midnight, the end of the evening. They were standing in line at the valet, waiting for Victoria's car. Anita leaned over and told Victoria, that's Dr. Willis up there, the neurosurgeon. They talk to him on the phone all the time, but had never met him in person. Both were shy of going up and introducing them selves, but Victoria stepped up and they both met him, his spouse and another one of the docs from the practice. The valet came up with both their black cars at the same time. Victoria went to the trunk of her car to put something in. When she finished she got in and looked ahead to see Anita sitting in the passenger seat of Dr. Willis's car. Anita said Dr. Willis looked at her and said "Do you need a ride?" Dr. Willis's wife was standing outside the car looking at her. Anita was mortified, apologized and got in the right car. What a hoot!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fifteen Favorite Things

Cynthia has tagged me and so I'm going to try and come up with a somewhat different list from my "guilty pleasures" list. And before I forget I want to tag Shando's ghost writer. I think it will be hilarious to see what she writes on her behalf. I will also tag Michelle Dahl and Joyce. Michelle you can just write it as a comment if you like. A good way to get initiated into the blogdom.
In no particular order:

15.Having my own office at work and getting to do my own thing. I love not having to deal with some of the daily aggravations of being on top of each other in the main office. I love being self directed and having the freedom to be creative and go in almost any direction I want with my job MOST of the time.

14. My 30 G IPOD. I'm coming late into the digital music era, but am enjoying so much the convenience of being able to cart around my entire music collection with me where ever I go. I like that I was able to get rid of most of my extensive CD collection. I like that I don't have to buy an entire album if I really don't think I want to. I usually do anyway. Habit I guess. I don't listen to it much with the ear piece but I've got little speakers here and there and all kinds of accessories to play it in any kind of car. I love it!

13. TIVO. I hate to use one of Cynthia's, but she got the TIVO fever from me anyway. It is so incredibly convenient. I love that I can always watch whatever I want whenever I want and it doesn't have to affect anything else I have planned. I love not having to watch commercials! I want to speed up through commercials on everything now. I find I want to reverse the radio and listen to something again. It doesn't work on radio though.

12. Dogs. I really like animals in general, but dogs and I have something special. I've got 3 of them and I enjoying visiting with most every dog I see. I love watching dog shows on TV, going to dog shows, dog shelters, looking at them in pet shops. They are always so loving and fun.

11. The seat heaters in my car. There isn't very much time in the year to get any use out of them, but oh are they wonderful when it is chilly. I always want to curl up and go to sleep in the car. I am afraid I may think I always have to have them when I buy a car.

10. My cell phone. Another one Cynthia listed. It's funny, because I'm one of the few people that don't keep it on all the time, but it is so CONVENIENT for me. I love being able to reach for it any time, anywhere when I want to ask something or talk to someone. I just came back from a road trip with a doc who used his cell phone for all of his email, Internet, and GPS. I must say that after seeing the demonstration and convenience I am sorely tempted to upgrade. Especially when my home computer seems to be so retarded half the time.

9. Eating out. I love it. I think it's convenient, fast and easy. I like the novelty of trying new places. I think I sometimes eat more balanced meals because I don't cook full meals at home very often, since it's just me. If I do, at least half of things rot before I get them eaten. And I like the socializing I often do with the different groups I go out to eat with.

8. Book Club! I love the fun of being able to talk to other people who have read the same book. I love the discussions that often develop around the themes of the books. I love the sheer number and variety of the books we've read. I love that we've been able to keep it going for 20 years!

7. Earrings. I know I said I was a dishaholic. Truth is I have several addictions and earrings are another one. I have more earrings than anyone would ever need. I buy them as souvenirs every where I go. The nice thing about them, is they are small and at least I can use them instead of having to dust them. I can't stand to leave the house without them on. I feel naked. I just bought 3 pair when I was in New Mexico for 2 days. I'm always a sucker for earrings.

6. Clean Sheets. I adore the feeling and smell of fresh sheets on the bed. I change them more often than a lot of people because I let those 3 dogs up on the bed to sleep with me at night. I usually change them every week.

5. Calenders. I have one I carry in purse to keep track of my various activities. I also have 2 in my office, one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom. I don't know why I am so fascinated with them, something about the orderliness they give my life and all the beautiful photos on them.

4. Snail Mail. I love getting "real letters" in the mail. I feel sort of cheated when I get a card with nothing but someone's name written on it. I love mail in general, except for the bills.

3. The Newpaper. I enjoy relaxing and reading the news, comics, reviews etc that are in the paper every day. I feel deprived and missing something if I don't get to on a day for some reason. It's also a great source for planning fun things to do!

2. Yankee Candles. I love the way they smell. I have one on my buffet and in my bathroom at all times. I also have one in my office. I have mostly changed to warmers instead of burning them, except in the bathroom. Just because it's easier and cleaner. I'd use a warmer in the bathroom too if it didn't involve draping a cord across the room.

1. My drawing class. I am so excited by what I've been able to learn to do and the progress I've made. I look forward to taking life drawing next semester and continuing to learn and improve my skills.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I've been on the road almost nonstop for the last several weeks. It's been great to be out of the office, especially since I won't be traveling for 3 months, but I'm done. It's amazing how attractive home can be when you have been on the road a lot. And my house needs some serious TLC.
I don't have any fabulous stories really. We are supposed to be in the Arizona Republic soon, maybe this Sunday. We had a reporter and photographer go with us to Ft. Defiance. He is going to write about the Rural Trauma Team Developement Course. That will be fun. I think I might even be quoted.
I enjoyed the feeling of "winter" in Flagstaff and Albuquerque. I enjoyed "old town" in both Albuquerque and Las Cruces and think both of them would be worth a trip back to spend some time there.
I did finally read enough of "Pillars of the Earth" to feel like I'm finally "in" to the book. When a book is 991 pages long, it takes a while to feel like you've made a dent. I'm about 360 pages into it.
I didn't do much else but drive and feed doctors. I slid around in some unexpected slush on the road between Albuquerque and Las Cruces. I learned a little more about technology from Dr. Manch. I'm beginning to think I need a neat phone like his where you can get and answer email. We used the GPS on it when we got to Las Cruces. It was pretty hilarious having the phone tell us where we were, when would get there and where to go next. It's supposed to be better technology than the systems you buy and put in your car because it's constantly updated. It got us to the car rental return place at the airport in El Paso too. I admit it was better than my map quest.
I was irate to have my lip gloss and hand lotion taken from me by airport security out of my purse. I had taken my purse through security at the Phoenix airport without any problem. I never thought of them as carry on stuff, because they were just "in my purse". But I tell those El Paso guys are tough. They took them because I didn't have them in a zip lock bag in my purse. The lotion was a new 4$ tube too and my favorite lip gloss! Ann (the nurse practioner) who was with us, said I should have slathered myself with lotion to use it up before I let them take it. Anyway, everyone on the plane was safe from lotion and lip gloss but not from my dry skin and lips.
I'm going to our big formal hospital party this weekend. I'll have to write afterwards and tell you all about it. I'll bring my camera.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Going Public

I don't know if this will change anything or not, but I just changed this from a private, invitation only blog, to a public blog. I removed anything I was worried about. We'll see how it goes!

Guilty Pleasures

I was just writing a note on Bandanamom's blog about books that I don't always admit I'm reading. It got me to think about other things I enjoy and don't always admit to.

The photo has nothing to do with it. If you look closely you can see it's a double rainbow. I took it on the way to Chinle.

So... I sometimes enjoy books that are entertaining but have no literary value. I love See's Candy. I love being done with my Christmas shopping, shipping, cards and decorations and it's not even December yet. (Sometimes I think that one's going to get me killed.)

I love a hot soak in the tub. I love dishes and table linens ( we already know that). I love having my own schedule at work. I love my IPOD. I love Burl Ive's voice on old Christmas songs. I enjoy shopping and spending money. I love calenders. I love Yankee Candles. I love eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough. I love phone messages. I love animals. I love Survivor, The Amazing Race, Top Chef, Project Runway, why don't I just say a lot of reality TV. I also like Lost, the Office, CSI and Heros.

I love Netflix. I love it that Dobbie is finally "housebroken" and not marking anymore. I like being the driver and yet sometimes I like to be driven. I love "new" things, new resturants, new stores, new books. I love variety.

I love the sound of wild birds. I love trees and plants in general, although mine often suffer from neglect.

I love how comfortable my new chairs are and like nothing better than to sit in them. I love the smell of clean laundry.

I love the seat heaters in the front seat of my car. I love Book Club. I love to to thunk those tubes of biscuit dough and make them pop. I love laughing at something with my sister and her seeing it exactly the way I do.

I love planning a trip. I love the temperature in the low 70's and crispness at night and in the morning.

I like mail (at least if it's not a bill). I like being right. I like not having to set the alarm. I like being able to walk around the house not fully dressed and never having to shut the bathroom door.
I love the smell of rain and anything do with rain, thunder, dark clouds the sound of rain.

So what do you like?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Field Trip for Grown Ups

My friend Penny is a good sport. She is pretty much willing to go along with me no matter where I seem to take her. One time we were going out to Florence because I wanted to check out the gift shop where inmates sell things they've made. We were well on our way in the middle of nowhere and Penny asks me, " Where are we going again and what are we doing?"

This Tuesday, we had both arranged a day off to go to the Queen Creek Olive Mill. It was something else that I had read about in the paper and wanted to check out. They make olive oil and have tours. Penny was amazed at how far it was to Queen Creek and was pretty sure we were lost before we got there. I wasn't exactly lost, I knew where I was I just wasn't sure where the Mill was. After calling twice for directions we found it, almost across the road from Schnepf farms.

At first we were a little stunned. I expected to see large olive trees all around and a lots of buildings. Instead, all we saw was this:

It didn't look very promising. The olive trees were small. But we had driven an hour to get there and so we were going to check it out.

Inside was a nice gift shop full of all kinds of olive products, tapenades, olives, flavored oils, olive oil soap, olive oil lotion, olive wood products. You can taste everything.

We bought a 5$ ticket for the next tour.

We gathered together on some picnic benches outside under some shade. The owner came out and told us all about the olive mill. Apparently the groves are to the north and not really visible from where we were. They grow about 8 different types of olives. It was really very interesting and we learned a lot. Did you know there really isn't anything like a black olive? What we eat as black olives have been changed that way through a chemical process to hide bruising. Ugh. Suddenly they seemed very unappetizing. It was quite interesting to learn all about olive oil and the different grades and the process to make it. Then he took us inside and showed us the machines. He let us taste some oil that they had just extracted. He had warned us that it would be bitter as they hadn't finished the process of getting the water out yet. It tasted terrible.

Afterwards we ate lunch from the little restaurant inside. This is what we had:

It was pretty good! And the other food we saw going by looked good too. There were busloads of folks from various retirement communities out there. It was a bustling place. I bought several different samples of their products, some as Christmas gifts. They are big participants in the locally grown movement. Their oils and olives are used by a lot of local chefs around town. They were selling some fresh breads too that came from the Willo Bakery. I found it rather amusing that I had driven an hour to this place and the Willo Bakery was about 10 minutes from my house. I have sampled some of the things I bought and it is delicious!

As we left, Penny and I discussed how we felt like we'd been on a field trip fro grown ups. It was lots of fun and I would recommend it to anyone! Be careful of all the old folks out there! The tours are on the hour between 10:30 and 2:30, closed on Mondays.
And here is the long suffering Penny!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


My name is Suzanne Barker and I am a dishaholic. I am not sure when it started, but I recognize that I have had this problem for many years. I'm not sure what I get out of it. I know that when I see pretty dishes, bowls, glassware, table linens, I get a thrill out of thinking what a beautiful table I could set with this things and how nice it would be to eat or serve out of them. I think I am finally at a point where I can deal with my problem. Being able to admit there is a problem is the first step.

Until last Sunday, I had an enormous amount of Franciscan Desert Rose Dishes. I had been given them by my father after his mother's death. It wasn't like I had a choice about it really. Other members of my family got other things, and he decided this was what I got. While I love dishes, it wasn't really a pattern that did anything for me. And not seeing my grandmother very often, especially not in her home in Kansas, it wasn't like I had any particular memories or attachments to the dishes.

But, not having any other "nice dishes" or anything like the size and number of them, I took them and over the years added to them quite a bit.

As you can see I had a million coffee cups, coffee pot, 3 sets of salt and pepper shakers, a sherbert dish, luncheon plates, mugs etc.....

I finally had bought 6 place settings of china that I really loved at the Lenox outlet. It's called June Lane by Kate Spade. It's really expensive but the nice thing about the outlet is you can get seconds. If you look through them well you can find some that look alright even if they have a fault. I would never have been able to afford them otherwise. But with all the Desert Rose burting out the seams, I had no where to really keep these new dishes plus the Butler Pantry that I used as every day. How many dishes does a single woman really need?

Anyway I had tried to get rid of them, half heartedly in the past. I had offered them to my sisters and their children. While they didn't really like the idea of my getting rid of them, they didn't want them either.

I thought about selling them, but was a bit daunted about the process. They were in varying condition, from perfect, to chipped to cracked and some were quite old and some pretty new. Finally I just decided to give them away to a good home. My friend, Cynthia, had some from her mom and while she didn't want the entire collection was willing to take some. I mentioned it to my relief society president at church, thinking she could announce it in Relief Society. It turns out HER mother had them when she was a kid and she had loved them. Her sister had gotten her mother's dishes and she would dearly love to have mine. So...they are now all gone.

The test to whether or not this was the right thing to do is how I feel now that they are gone. I feel great! So I think it was. It 's amazing how much room I have to better organize the dishes I love.
And buried under all the desert rose were other treasures I'd forgotten I even owned. I made a pot of hot chocolate Sunday night in a teapot that my dad had sent from Japan to his mother when he was stationed there with the marines in the 50's. It's beautiful China and says made in Nippon on it. I used the little teacups and everything.
I'm still a dishaholic, but I think I am more reasonable now and don't buy everything I see just because it's beautiful. But If I had a Martha Stewart type of kitchen with her room..... I'd be dangerous.

Dias De Los Muertos

I find an interesting phenomenon that this Mexican holiday is finding an increasing amount of popularity in Arizona lately. I have always found the holiday and the folk art associated with it fascinating. My neighbor had a Dias De Los Muertos party on Friday night. She said to bring a photo of someone you want to remember and come and tell stories about them. What a nice tradition that is! It sort of like a more party like Memorial Day with an emphasis on those who have passed on instead of the 3 day weekend.

There have been some celebrations around town too. I decided to go to the one at the Mesa Arts Center since I hadn't been there before and it was free.

The Mesa Arts Center is a pretty place. I think that at least during the time that Penny and I were there, there wasn't a lot going on. I did decorate a sugar skull with the kids. I had always wanted to do that and it was fun. There were some mariachi's playing too.

In Mexico they actually go to the graveyard and have a kind of picnic with those of their family that have passed on. I think it's all a nice idea. The imagery is not scary or evil, skulls and skeletons dressed in bright colors. And I like the idea of taking the time to remember those who have passed on.
So how do the rest of you feel about it?

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I enjoyed seeing the kids at our little Halloween party for them at Church. My favorite costume was Hannah Montana! And she came up with it herself...which I thought was even better. Here she is with her pirate sister.

For some reason, I decided to dress up this year. I'm not sure why. I guess I just thought it would be fun. Someone asked me what I was. I said, umm...Scary?

I would not remember that I looked ummmm... scary, and was trying to take some photos of some of the kids. Some of the little kids were a little nervous of me. Look at some of these expressions.

This is Dennis the Menace.

It took a lot of coaxing for this puppy to get this close to me.

I also had watched the Martha Stewart Halloween special and put this little spider together with glow sticks. I put on a spider web on my trunk. It was a big hit!

I only had 16 trick or treaters at my house. I guess I should be glad I get any with the neighborhood I live in. Hope you all had fun!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I recently came back from a great vacation. Since then I have tried to decide what made it so great. I went on a cruise through the Inside Passage in Alaska. The scenery was great and my friend and I had some really nice shore excursions. The best was a sight seeing tour on a float plane, definately fabulous.

But I think the part that made it so great for me was the intermittent nature of it. We would have days in port where we were busy, alternating with days of relaxtion "travel by lawn chair", as my friend and I said. I got a lot done on my counted cross stitch project. I finished the book I was reading and started a new one. And I know my friend got in several naps. I liked not having to pack up every night or even every few nights and get reestablished in a new location.

I know when I was younger I thought a vacation spent at home was a waste. Now I think it is a treat. So am I just getting older? I enjoy time to relax and persue whatever my interests are. I still enjoy traveling to far places but maybe not with the same intensity as when I was younger. I remember trips spent in various other locations where almost every minute was planned. I think for me something in between is the best.

What about you? What do you think makes a great vacation?