Also. Max turned 2. Which was kind of the defining point of the year.
In January, our friends Misty and John and their five-year old Louisa rented a house in the desert. It was plenty cold in Flagstaff and we hadn't seen these friends in four years so we headed down to see them. Zoe and Louisa ate 36 Cuties (those possibly Genetically Modified Oranges that are so easy to peel. Zoe repeats the TV commercial 's tagline daily, Cuties are for kids. Although sometimes she lets me eat them too). The kids built a castle with a moat from water diverted from the Grand Canyon. We ate delicious salad and this is where Zoe learned she loved toast but really only if Misty makes it.
Also in January, Erik and I went to see Social Distortion
and I had a super long essay about microorganisms published in The Normal School. That was cool because it was very long. For me.
February, there was still travel but this was by myself and so less fun. AWP was in Chicago this year, in February, if I didn't mention it was February in Chicago already. The highlights were seeing grad school friends. Like almost all of them. In the lobby of the Hilton where they always hold AWP in what always seems like February. The lowlights were February in Chicago but it wasn't that bad. Lunch at the Art Institute with Jenn Gibbs, Dave Hawkins and Cole Swensen made up for the cold. You can tell February was its normal February self for the lack of photos taken by either my phone, Erik's phone, or Erik's fancy camera. Poor February. However, it was brightened by the visiting of my sisters and my niece and nephews. This is a picture of the nephews. The nieces, once together, become wind-like and as equally hard to photograph.
March was hard. My friends' Rebecca and Todd's twin daughters were born too early in January. We wanted to see them. We didn't want to be in the way. We wanted to help. There was nothing we could do. Still, we went. First we stopped by Julie and Steve's house near Big Bear on the way to Los Angeles. Staying in the mountains of California makes you realize why people move to California. Also, my best friends live in California which is another reason to want to move to California. Also. The beach.
Erik and Todd took Bek and Todd's kids and Max and Zoe to the beach while I went with Rebecca to meet Andi, the new baby on a ventilator. That day, the doctors talked to Rebecca about taking Andi off the ventilator. It was a miracle and I feel so lucky to have been there. And, it made me feel like I wasn't entirely in the way. Bek and I went out to lunch at a French Bistro to celebrate while the kids were at the beach. Steak tartare and wine at noon. Another reason to like California.
The real good news is though that Andi is doing so well. She's meeting her milestones and gaining weight and is almost one year old. One year! Progress!
Later that March, ,we met Julie and Steve and her kids to camp in the Muddy Mountains outside of Las Vegas. To see those folks already now three times, if you count AWP, in one year is a record. And it's only March!
In April, I thought I was dying from some heart condition but the ER doctors said it was just stress. I blame my job and the attempt to turn our MA into an MFA Indeed, once the MFA was approved, the heart pains disappeared. Also it snowed in April. But then, it was regular April and Zoe started Microsoccer which made me write more microessays which you can find here and here.
May was bad because my grandmother died. She had been doing totally well but complications due to diabetes became too complicated. She was 85. I miss her. We did get to go to Salt Lake for the funeral, for which I am grateful.
May was good though because my mom retired. She could visit more! I hosted the High Altitude Writing Institute, and since Max's day care had imploded, my mom came to the rescue. We also, that same week, ordered seven tons of landscaping rock, kind of a yellowish, pinkish, whiteish, brown rock, for the front yard. We only made my mom shovel 1 of the tons of rocks.
May was also good because here, if you drive a bit, you can already be outdoor swimming. Our good friend Sam invited us and our good friend Beya and her kids to swim in Sedona. Thanks Sam!
Also in May, Ander and Megan came to visit. That was much fun as usual. They got us hooked on Words with Friends. We'll get some work done later.
Sadly, I also got in a car accident in May. It was minor but a car accident is never a good thing, making May a difficult, if sometimes also great, month.
In June,because we'd had so much fun with Misty and John and Louisa, we went to Portland for the longest, biggest trip we'd taken since Max was born. We went to the coast.
We went to Pok Pok. We went to OMSI. We drove in the rain. I hadn't been to Portland for 5 years. I drove by my old house on Brooklyn Street. It looked the same. People's Food Co-op looked entirely different. We also visited our friend Van's new brewery, Gigantic Brewing. A microbrewery. If you're getting the theme here. There's Erik, standing next to one of Van's not so micro barrels.
I spent the most of July teaching an online class and working on long essays about Micropreemies and Microclimates and Microwine and freaking out about Max's preschool situation. The one preschool that I liked the best, required him to be potty-trained. The other one that I didn't like so much, didn't require him to be potty trained but they did require him to go five days a week. That seemed a bit much for a Max. It also seemed a bit much for a two year old to get potty trained, these days. But I bought a Cars themed potty and began to apply myself. Max, at first, applied himself not at all. But he did like to go walking in the woods with me and would sometimes there pee. Progress!
We also went camping with our friends Mara and Martin and Lis and Alex and their kids. We did not take pictures of that. For a glimpse of our camping spot, look at the picture of us swimming at Sam's. We camped up there on that ridge called Sycamore canyon.
Zoe traveled more than the rest of us. She went to Montana for Erik's cousin's daughter's wedding. She danced until midnight. She went on a rafting trip. She got almost as many mosquito bites as she did three years before in Italy. Even so, it was hard to convince her to return. But, we were fortunate in that we could bribe her with a birthday party. Z turned seven. I turned 100.
We did get to go down to Phoenix in the middle of July and if you can't call that traveling, I don't know what you'd call it. Erik got us tickets to the Diamondbacks and his parents found an awesome hotel. We watched the Diamondbacks play baseball. Max learned to like coffee and Zoe learned how to be 17.
Throughout the summer, Zoe went to Camp Invention, and two Discovery Camps--one Spanish and one Poderosa Explorers. She was signed up for another but we canceled because summer was already almost over. Zoe and Max took many swimming lessons. Zoe can swim across the pool. Max can get his face wet. Progress!
My friend Karen and I started a writing group where I finished (again!) Salmon of the Apocalypse AND made progress on the Micro project. Summer appears to be full of small bit of progress.
While Erik worked and worked at his job, making short films like What's Cooking which feature restaurants around town: Tinderbox, Brix, and Elote, to name a few and started remodeling Zoe's bedroom (scraping the popcorn off the ceilings, painting it green and purple, tearing out the carpet) the kids and I went up to Salt Lake where my sister Paige took them to bouncy town in practically Provo (so far from Salt Lake! And hadn't I just driven through?) and we swam every day and I ran up by the zoo and for the piece de la resistance? Lagoon. I love Lagoon but, unlike the kids, I need never go there again.
We spent the rest of the trip being hosted by my sister who knows how to cook for 17 competing appetites. Paige and Val and I had another Iron Chef, this time, Iron Chef ocean. I made crab sandwiches and hamachi salad and cauliflower panna cotta with smoked trout. Val made whole roasted snapper, ikura three ways, paella and fun of an octopus. Paige made clam dip, mussels and shrimp bisque. We did leave a micro amount of fish in the ocean.
Zoe and Max got to hang out with their newest cousin, Blake, and who, is now one of their I-wish-we-lived-in-Salt-Lake cousins like Lily and Cam.
Fortunately, in October, my mom will bring two of the three cousins to visit us, but we're not quite there yet. First, the kids must help their dad finish Zoe's bedroom
while I spend the latter part of August figuring out the new data system for how-to-apply for tenure.
This is the first year you had to upload all your materials into Faculty 180, a software program designed to make you regret getting your PhD. Of course, I go up the year of the electronic upheaval. But between Angie, my friend and the department's associate chair and me, we figured it out. So far so good from the various and sundry thumb's-up-for-tenure-givers.
September? What else happened? We went to pizza at Fratelli's and took this picture outside in the dry Rio de Flag riverbed.
This year, the river should have been running. It rained every day in the summer. From Zoe's birthday (see July) until the end up September. And not just the 1-3 in the afternoon monsoons but sometimes from 11 to 5. It was wet and good. A lot like our trip to Portland.
Although I told Zoe that she could do only one activity per week, she does four. Mondays are gymnastics, Tuesdays Spanish tutoring, Wednesday homework club and Thursday Ballet Folkoricio. Max made it to the potty-trained preschool! Good job Max. September is the month of figuring out the tenure schedule, the activity schedule and the remodeling schedule.
People visited like crazy in late August and September. Emily, Erik's cousin and my good friend down for a too-short weekend (come back Em!) My father-in-law's mom and his sister Tippy and her kids Lynzi and Taylor came on Labor Day. Then, Erik's aunt Joyce, his uncle Frank, and his uncle and aunt Harold and Becky came so they could go to the University of Utah game in Phoenix. It was hotter in September than in July.
But the visiting that occurred in September paled in comparison to the visiting that occurred in October, mostly because the September visiting happened at my mother-in-law's house (did I mention they live 0.6 miles away?) and the October visiting happened at my house. Early in the month, Robin Hemley, my nonfiction mentor from the University of Utah came to visit. He did two things--inaugurate the new MFA and to work on the film he and Erik had shot the summer of 2011 in Poland. Roast Beef in the Jews will be at a theater near you soon. Ish. Robin has to come back and visit some more (come back Robin!).
Then, my mom brought my niece and nephew down for 5 days of I-wished-we-all-lived-in-Flagstaff. Then, my good friend Peter Covino, whose book The Right Place to Jump had just been released, came to visit my class and to give a reading at La Posada in Winslow, AZ. La Posada is the train station designed by Mary Colter and once had been a Harvey Hotel but then had collapsed into disrepair. Allen Affeldt, his wife, and Dan Lutzick restored. Julie Paegle brought her family to stay with us and read with me and Peter making this the 4th time I'd seen Julie this year. Erik's sister came to visit too. She stayed for Halloween. October visits made this year one of the best ever.
Then, November, I tried a modified NaNoWriMo writing 500 words a day. Tiny progress. For my birthday, Erik hung my wall of copper and
who, with his parents, took me to Napa
where I stalked Geoffrey Zakarian
and drank wine.
And then we came home from Napa. I wrote letters of recommendation and apparently, mostly, ran out of words for the year.
December seems like it's full of Christmas but really it's full of letters of recommendation writing. We did go to the light parade in downtown Flagstaff which is just like the Fourth of July parade, but with lights.
We decorated a tree and sang some songs
and spent the day with Erik's family where we made this prime rib.
Tonight, our friends Brian and Beya and Liam and Ian are coming over. Erik's parents, if they're over this cold that we've all had for 10 days, will come too. I'll make spanikopita (because the spinach leaves promise it will be a good year) chicken souvlaki, greek salad, potatoes. We'll stay up at least until ten. And then, we will go to the Pinecone drop downtown where it is zero degrees and full of Flagstaffians who will do anything for a well-lit pinecone.
Happy New Year! I hope for all of us, next year is full of tiny steps forward.