Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Bag Lady is still learning

This Tucson season has been a learning time for me. It's our third year here, and we're no longer new to the idea of getting away to a sunny place in the winter. Now we just live here for four months of the year. Here's what I learned this year:

1.  Its not ALWAYS sunny here. We had a dozen or so days of rain. Half a dozen days of wind strong enough to keep us indoors. A few just-plain-cloudy ones. Some that were sunny but cool. And now, toward the end of our stay, mostly sunny with temps climbing into the 80s. Even with the variety of weather between December and April, Tucson is a good place to be living.

2. It's different when you own the place. We bought the trailer we'd rented for two years near the end of last season. Since then we've spent a chunk of money making it our own. Some was by choice - removing the popcorn ceiling, painting to cover a lot of the wood paneling and to brighten the interior, adding lamps and track lighting and pillows and throws,  replacing the deck chairs with more comfortables ones, buying a sleeper sofa for visitors and a cat condo for Larisa the Designer Cat.  

And some was necessary. A chronic leak behind the shower required the removal of the shower area, replacement of sheetrock and floor, and rebuilding of the whole bathroom. We've been using the public showers for ten days now. We have two more days before our bathroom is our own again.

3. We live quite well in 600 square feet of space. We have everything we need and not much extra. I love the simplicity of the place.

4. I can spend time in conversation with conservatives. The Current Events discussion on Wednesdays has been a growing experience for many of us, I think. The 25 of us are quite polarized in our views, but we're learning to be respectful to each other most of the time, and we laugh more often. I suspect - and this may be my ego speaking - that my "curious questions" over the last two years, which have resulted in thoughtful discussions, have been helpful.  For example, my question "I don't know much about the immigration issue. What's been the history of immigration law?" led to a review of the last 60 years and clarified how our divergent views are just different solutions to the same underlying issue. It's the mediator in me that wants to find common ground.

5. I usually say yes to new opportunities, but if I don't ask my questions before doing so, I'm likely to have expectations that don't get met. In three situations this year I said yes to positions of responsibility and then got ticked off when things didn't work out the way I thought they would. If I'm simply a participant, other people's opinions and solutions are fine with me. So I will probably be asking my questions before I say yes. I hadn't realized it was a pattern in my personality ("character defect", if you will) that I can change.

6. Not every group has cordial, collaborative meetings! I encountered arm waving, shouting and interrupting earlier this week. I had forgotten how that can happen. I sat quietly and watched.

7. When you keep your door open you hear the sounds of the day: wind chimes, birdsong, neighbors talking, bicycles and golf carts and cars. And of the night: trains, wind, coyotes. Better than music!

8.  I have made more new friends this year besides continuing to enjoy the ones I met in previous years.  Hanna is 55 and one of the younger people here; she's from British Columbia. Florence is 87, retired from New York. I also had good conversations with Rae, Tammy, Bob and Sue, PJ and Mer, Susie, Eve, Carol, Jared and Nancy, Ronnie and Tom, Mel, JoAnne and Fay. Most of these people will be leaving for home in the next couple of weeks. I'm talking about conversation. Not small talk. I love it!

9. I like riding my bicycle. I didn't really get into it until this month for some reason. I can't wear flip flops when I ride, so I finally put on socks and shoes. I'm increasing my distance gradually each time I ride. Yesterday I did nine miles, I think, all inside the park. Our bicycles live here in Tucson because it's fairly flat and easy to ride. I'm considering buying another one when we get back to Washington. It's not quite as convenient to ride in my neighborhood there because of the hills, but there are nearby trails.

10. My cat really does like me better when I bring her along.

Here's a recent feature about the Voyager, where we live in the winter.


joeh said...

Nine miles is a lot of pedaling.

I love exchanging ideas with other people, I have even found out that Liberals aren't all evil, I just don't trust them because they are usually smarter than me. (I?) See what I mean.
JK...Sometimes a liberal has even changed my mind on stuff.

Linda Reeder said...

I always enjoy your lists of learnings. They are very insightful.

Olga said...

Your Arizona life is similar to my Florida life. Although I do have more space and I am not sure I could do with less. It less space here than in VT and I do realize I could easily downsize soon. People are people where ever we go. I tend to stick to my group of friends in VT where as in FL i really have met a more diverse spectrum--but all in the older, white range. So by diversity, I mean I actually speak to political and religious conservatives and even like a few of them.:))

Anonymous said...

It is very nice to read your post. We will feel happy if we start to live as we are...

Janette said...

Do you think open dialogue happens when people are not afraid they will have to see you all year long?

I enjoy your observations. Thank you for letting me peek into, what quite possibly be, my future!

DJan said...

My sister is losing her golfing companions in Florida, as they head back to Canada and elsewhere. She enjoys the summers when she has the golf course to herself, but she also misses her friends. I will read that article about the Voyager, since I'm curious about the lifestyle. :-)

Unknown said...

I enjoy leaving our doors open as well. A natural symphony! Interesting post - thanks!

Sally Wessely said...

You are the master at making lists that sum up experiences, insights, and new information learned. I love reading these posts.

Diversity is what brings a wider perspective to us all. Some people are more ok with divergent views than others.

Also, I like the insight of learning to ask questions before saying "yes." I learned that years ago. I took a job as a bookkeeper before asking to see the books. They were a mess and nothing had been balanced for six months and I had reconcile checking accounts, payroll, and accounts payable. Believe me, I learned to ask questions after that.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

You've identified something I miss all winter--opening doors and windows to let in sounds and smells from the outdoors. It's still going to be a while until we can do that.

Roberta Warshaw said...

I just discovered your blog and I am so happy that I did. (I found you on Bob Lowrey's blog). We just bought a place in Tucson to retire to and are very excited for this new chapter in our lives. Keep writing, I will keep reading! Interesting about the conservatives. My closest friends are very far right. I still love them dearly though!