We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Pumkin Patch

            Before I start today's story/memories, let me say Happy Birthday to Breanna!  She turned 6 today and we joined her and her family at Jerry Bob's this morning for a birthday breakfast (French toast with strawberries, whipped cream and a little chocolate on it for good measure!). The whole place serenaded little Breanna - she was so happy!!

                                            Agua Linda Farm...we were there this weekend, one year ago...hard to believe it would only be a couple of days until Kimmy went to St. Joseph's...we had such a good day - Kim showed absolutely no signs of pain or fatigue - that's a heavy pumpkin she's holding!! 
                                        Kim loved Agua Linda.  When we moved here, we started going to Buckalew's, out at Three Points every year.  Cody made the news there, while pumpkin hunting, when he was 3 years old.  But then, they started to charge admission...the next year, they started charging for parking...so, we started to go to Wilcox, a little over an hour drive, but plenty of places to go to hunt for pumpkins.
                                         We found many little farms and had great times over the years taking the bambini down there to petting zoos, pick your own produce places, tire swings, hay rides and, of course, pumpkin picking.
                                        Although many good time were had at Apple Annies', the Walmart of Wilcox pumpkin picking, their expansion seemed more commercial and less quaint, farm experience (like the gi-normous red barn they built a few years ago).  There just seemed to be more bees, larger crowds and growing fees, after a long drive.  And the pies, well...one year we bought a peach/raspberry/apple pie - it was stacked high!  I believe we paid $12, for a pie.  We got it home and Kim was all anticipation.  She dug in, took a bite, chewed, looking at me thoughtfully and said:

                  "Hmmm.  Hmm, hmm, hmm."  

                                        Oh oh.  I knew what that meant.  Her wheels were turning.  Nothing happened that day.  Or the next...but, within a week, I came home and there it was.  Sitting on the counter in all of it's glory.  A peach/raspberry/apple pie!  Kim was excited for me to try it - but not as excited as I was to try it.  It was Heaven.  Simply put, fillet mignon...making Apple Annie's pie taste like minute steak.  Seriously.  It was foreshadowing of things to come...

                       Sure enough, the next year Kim told me "I think I found a place I would like to try to hunt for pumpkins this year...and ever since, we've gone to Agua Linda Farm...

                        And here we were today...after our wonderful breakfast...Cody taking the lead...

They've added a hay pyramid...

And extra tire swings...Cody's always loved those!

And an double enormous hay maze!!

And, of course, a petting zoo!  Look at the animals!

                            The bambini spent a lot of time pushing each other on this giant tractor tire swing...it was good to see them laughing...

                             And then it was time to find the 'perfect pumpkin', as Kim would say every year...

Cody pulled the boy...

                                                              Here's my little pumpkin!

                             They sure had a great time and found the best pumpkins!!  We watched a sheep dog herding show - one of the dogs looked a lot like Bella...ate the pie (just as good as Apple Annie's, but not even close to Kimmy's!)...at one point, I noticed Cody staring out into one of the fields that they were not using this year...looking, as if out to sea...Autumn quietly said "Isn't that where we found our pumpkins last year?"...

                                  "You know Mama's here with us. Right now."  I told the bambini...

                                     And we were off...with our pumpkins in tow.  Cody pulling the wagon over rough terrain...Tonio pushing.  Autumn took my hand, looked up, deeply into my eyes...her eyes so blue it hurts...and smiled at me.  "C'mon Dad, let's go."....



PS  Yesterday morning, Autumn, Antonio and I went to Mass at San Xavier together.  After Mass, we hurried to Mary's chapel, next door to light our candles for Kimmy.  As we entered, we all looked for Kim's photo on the right side of the altar...it was gone!  Before any one of us could react, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see Ivan, the young man who works so hard to keep the church and surrounding buildings clean.  He also teaches First Holy Communion classes.  And during Mass, sang traditional Indian hymns to celebrate Indian Days on the reservation.  He told me "I moved her, look."  My eyes panned to the left, where he was pointing..."I cleaned all of the statues, as well as your wife's photo" He actually dusts Kimmy's photo for us daily!  We appreciate  all he does...

                        ...Tonio lit a candle for his Mama on our long, quiet, Friday...

Friday, October 14, 2011



Kim's great friend, Tracy, sent me these photos of Kimmy...

The top one, is of Kim and Cajun in the dining room of our old house in Tucson.  I'm guessing 1995 or '96.  The bottom two, are from a visit to Tracy's in Alexandria, VA, where Tracy has lived since 1984 or there abouts - They are old photos - I'm carrying our cassette case that we traveled with - I believe they are from before we moved here in 1994!  We always had a great time visiting with Tracy over the years.  She'd take us to see the sights in D.C. and to great night spots, too!


Here's a photo of the bracelets my neighbor, Amy, has been working on for me for Kim's dinner.  It's a Lance Armstrong type bracelet (no steroids, though) and says "Random Acts of KIMness" a phrase our friends and neighbor, Dale Hoffner, coined.  His wife, Charlotte, worked with Kim at Cottonwood.  They came out so nice and it is a beautiful shade of blue!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

10 Months

              The day loomed chilly.  And early.  We couldn't sleep last night.  None of us.  Putting it off without talking about it.  We watched a movie together (The Fantastic Mr. Fox - excellent!!).  Tonio fell asleep first, in front of the t.v. at 11.  Autmn, Cody and I went out back around 12:30 a.m. to light candles and say good night to Kim...
              I awoke with a start at 3:30 a.m.  Sirens...  I went to the living room, listening, looking, waiting...a bleary eyed Autmn and then Antonio came out shortly after and we sat silent in the living room...waiting...

               I took them all to Jerry Bob's before we had to get Cody to school for a good breakfast...then, to shake off the feeling we shared, I surprised the little ones and too them to Sabino Canyon.  We hiked to Anderson's Dam...

This was one spot that Kim and I frequented - and I thanked God for everytime that I took her to her favorite watering hole.  When the creek was running pretty good, we'd jump off the rock into the pool below.  It was deep enough to swim in today, but not deep enough to leap off of the rocks.  There is a pretty water fall that runs through the crack in the center of this formation, but I couldn't come up with a good angle to capture it.

                This hiked washed the mood right out of these two!  I think it part sense of accomplishment that they could make such a gargantuan hike and partly the sheer beauty of the canyon and, in particular, the dam, with it's waterfall, sandy beaches and pools of water.

                 I told them all of the stories that I could remember of the many times that their Mama and I hiked back in there, packing Subway sandwiches for lunch, swimming, jumping off rocks, laying on the rocks to warm up and to dry off, exploring deeper into the canyon.  They sat mesmerized, soaking it all in, nodding excitedly and asking questions...

                           They climbed around on these rocks like champs.  I was pretty proud of them, remember, they are self professed 'marshmallows' and accident prone!

                      We spent a couple of hours at this spot climbing, hiking and playing...

                          There was this small falls at the top of the rock formation.

                     Tonio braved the frigid waters...he liked trying to see how close to the fish he could get!

                 As we hiked back out, I would stop the kids and tell them about the time Kim and I swam here, or hiked there, or picnicked by this tree...and about the times we took them there, as well.  They really enjoyed our time there.
                As the afternoon wore on, the grew quiet and withdrawn again...not surprising after their sleepless night and long hike in the warm sun...I told them that Andrea was going to take them out for a special evening, but did not tell them where!  I nearly had to tell them, when, as Andrea and Angie were ready to head out, Tonio started to breakdown...he did not want to leave me...and he missed his Mama...Andrea and Angie worked with him to settle him down and were on their way...to Disney on Ice's Toy Story 3!  Andrea had set this up for the kids as a surprise.

Lexy, Autumn and Antonio enjoying the show...

Antonio, Bryson, Mariah, Kim and if you look real close...baby Maleah on her lap! They had such a good time, thanks to Andrea and Angie!!  It was a blessing that they were able to comfort these two, after a challenging day...

Meanwhile, beaten and struggling to go on...I took Cody, David (Andrea's son) and their friend, Cameron to dinner and to the movies to see Killer Elite starring Jason Statham and Rober DeNiro.  It was the first grown up movie that I have seen in the theater in 14 years.  I was a little too distracted to stay too in tuned, although there were some classic Statham moments, like when he beats up two bad guys while he is tied to a chair!  The boys enjoyed it!!

So, it is another late night, as the bambini marched outside, just after 11:00, candles in hand, to light up the Nitcho another night...to say a special good night...


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who to Call?

May 25, 2005

         "Today, Cody and his friends Wyatt, John and Mathew sang in a talent show at Cottonwood!  They sang "Purple People Eater" as Mathew danced around in the Purple People Eater costume.  It was very cute!  Dave snuck away from work to watch.  We were all very proud of our little performer : )"

         Here in today, we pulled down the Halloween boxes from the attic.  Well, crawl space, above the garage.  There's not enough storage in these homes, so, when we moved in, I cut a hole in the garage ceiling and laid down some plywood to be able to put all of our Christmas, Halloween, Easter, etc decorations and other misc keepsakes, etc.
         Now the hole that I cut is no longer where I had originally cut it.  And again, I'm at that point where I cannot remember what I've told you and what I haven't - so.  Stop me if you've heard this one before.
         When I went to place the hole in the ceiling, I had the foresight to climb up through the attic access that the builder put into our house to access the furnace (yes, it's in the ceiling.  Don't know why.).  I crawled towards the garage and scoped out the best place to make my cut, based on the electrical wiring running across the ceiling.  Then, I made my cut.  I'm not very handy.  It was a slightly misshaped rectangle of a hole.  But, it worked.
          Now, the only problem with the placement of the hole I created, was, you had to have the garage door down to be able to put up your ladder and climb up into the attic.  No problem.  Right?  Well, one day, I'm pulling decorations down and I'm half on the ladder and half in the attic, when I hear the garage door going up!  I yelled to Kim, who used her automatic opener from her Expedition, but I wasn't too worried, thinking that once the door hit me or the ladder it would stop and go back down again.  Right?  Wrong.
          The door began to crush my hip against the ladder, which began tilting crazily, while I tried to pull myself up into the ceiling.  Poor Kim.  She began yelling, no, screeching for help screaming that she was killing her husband!!  Finally, the door came off the track and stopped and I was able to push it back enough and wriggle down the ladder.  Badly bruised, to comfort Kimmy who was sobbing uncontrollably, squeezing me harder than the garage door had!!
         After that, my neighbor, Brian, came over and assisted us in relocating the hole to a safer location.  And, it was a perfect rectangle this time!

          I had Lexy and Breanna over, and Lexy and Autumn climbed the ladder to look upstairs, amazed at the space.  Once the boxes were down, they had a great time dressing up in the various old costumes we have accumulated over the years.  Some of which, Kim made.

                              Breanna actually has cat ears on and a tail.  Tonio is sporting a dinosaur costume that Kimmy made years ago for Cody.  Those two had a blast!!  We all had a good time unwrapping Kim's ghost collections (oh, look up Christopher Walken's SNL 'Ghosts Under my Bed' skit on YouTube!!) and  placed them around the house.  She liked to get a new ghost every year.  Autumn has reminded me that I need to take her back to Pier 1 to find one for this year...

                             Later, at the kid's swim lessons, I suddenly had the urge to call Kim.  My left hand actually reached for and picked up my cell to do that.  It's been awhile since I've felt that - it used to happen several times a day...

The javelinas have been wreaking havoc on the portulacas and hearts & flowers in our front yard.

                     They won't even let St. Francis alone!  I've been unable to find javelina traps or repellent.  And I haven't been able to talk any of my hunting friends to sit up in the olive tree and wack them as they dine.

                   What better way to end our day than at Viro's?  I picked up Vito one of those glass cutting dealies at Michaels and he is going to make vases out of wine bottles to use as center pieces for Kim's dinner!  His son Joe and wife Deanna were there.  Vito just got in some new raviolis that he made for me.  There are two different mushroom kinds and one that has four cheeses and a hint of pear.  They were amazing!
                  We were joined by Andrea, Mario and Breanna and sat around eating for two hours!!

                  Great food.  Great company!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cody's Birthday

           April 23rd 2005

                     "Today is Cody's 8th birthday.  We woke to a beautiful day of sunshine and 93 degrees.  Cody wanted to take his school buddies to the Pima County Fair for the day.  The boys enjoyed many cool rides including a twisty coaster, tilt a whirl, and giant super slide.  Mathew Peru, Wyatt Lee and Justin Lund were all perfect little gentlemen throughout the day.  Cody, Wyatt and Mathew each got a part in a Mad Science show.  Cody got to be 'Cody Banks" and do a simulated snow board scene!  It was so wonderful.
                    After the fair, we took everyone to Picurro Pizza for a 'Tiki' birthday party.  The boys all had beach straw hats and tiki cups filled with root beer.  We ended the party with a mint chocolate chip ice cream cake.  What a wonderful day for all of us.  I can't believe 8 years has passed this quickly.  I have enjoyed every moment.  We love you Cody!
                   Happy Birthday little man, Love, Mama"

                 And here's an entry from Cody!!

              April 29th 2005

               "We went to Joe's Crab Shack.  I ate a pound of crab.  I went because of a good report card and I like the way they dance!  The End."

                 Good day today, spending some time with Rosa and Vito...then with Angie, Andrea, Kim and the kids at the cheap theaters to see the Smurfs (pretty good movie!), which the kids all enjoyed and Andrea told us the story of how she had so many of the Smurf figurines as a young girl, that she would hang them off of Kim's crib!  Then, we had dinner with our friends Lupe and Manny, a Tuesday night tradition!  Manny had picked up a 6 pack of Genessee Cream Ale.  This was a $6/case cans of beer back in the '80's, suddenly repositioned as a 'micro-beer' and selling for $7/six pack!!!  It was a tasty nostalgic night.
                 Also worked on Kim's dinner - jumping castles remain elusive - if anyone has any connections, please let me know!  And on promoting 405.  It is frightening how many voters will just tow Washington D.C. rhetoric, without looking at facts, like ones that show where our school tax dollars go and how our school district consistently stays within budget...

                 Tomorrow, I work on peace.  Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart...


Monday, October 10, 2011

Pier One Imports

                Last year, this Monday, Kim dragged herself home from Pier One Imports at around 2:30 a.m.  She had just completed a shift to help the store set up its seasonal merchandise.  Everyone knew Kim at the Pier One on Broadway and the Pier One on Old Spanish Trail.  She was their best shopper!  You can scan our house and see a ton of Pier One influence.  Kim had an eye for what would make our house a home.  And, it seemed, Pier One stocked it!
               I have known Carmella, the store manager there for years - retail circle friend.  I supplied her uncle with real estate information, as he looked to make investments here in Tucson.  She was a manager at the Pier One on Broadway, when I was the store manager at Linens 'N Things, right next door (and next to Janene's Unique Identity Salon!).  Going further back, we knew Carmella from her Mervyn's days, when I was the store manager at Toys R Us across the street and Kim would buy my work clothes there, as well as, clothes for herself and the bambini.  Small world.
              Carmella knew Kim's eye and had asked for her help with the seasonal set and hope that Kim would like it enough to stay on for the whole Christmas season.  Kim liked that idea.
             I was awake when she came home and she was so excited.  "Gosh, I had know idea what hard work it would be, but it was so fun!!" she gushed.  We talked for awhile, Kim telling me about the process, the people she worked with, the food Carmella provided the crew and what an motivational manager she is.  I asked her then, to call out at work at Rincon Vista the next morning.  I told her I would go in late so I could get the bambini ready for school and take them so she could sleep.  Or, I suggested, call and ask if you could work a little later shift - as volunteer coordinator, this could work.
             You know Kim.  She was awake a few hours ready, cooking breakfast for the bambini, tired, but eyes sparkling, telling them about her night!!!

             That was a glimpse of how we used to run all day.  I should have noticed, over the last two years, that Kim started to slow things down.  Less walks.  Less day trips.  More wanting to stay home.  That was not Kim...

              We are back into the swing of things following our California trip!  The bambini slept in today until 7:00.  I left at 7:30 for physical therapy for my throbbing shoulder - cortisone did not work. I appear to be immune to it, much like Spiderman.  I got home at 8:20 in time to grab Cody and drive him to school.  He's got a pretty nasty cold, but refused to stay home, not wanting to get behind in his work (who does that sound like??).  I got home at 8:40, we ran Bella a mile and then headed up to Cottonwood to pick up the tickets for Kim's upcoming dinner (less than two weeks!!).  We visited Desert Willow - by now it was 10:30 and I realized I had not fed Tonio and Autumn (or myself, but I usually do not eat breakfast anymore), so we zipped into Bruegger's, and then went to Empire H.S.  From there, we made it over to Rincon Vista - I knew I should have left the kids in the car as soon as we entered the front office...Autumn and Tonio had stopped dead and were staring at Kim's desk.  The desert art work she had so carefully hung when the school opened still there.  The looks on their faces were so forlorn.  I grabbed them in a hug and moved them along.  "Mama's desk..." was all Tonio could manage...
            It was now around 11:30...we ran to the $3.00 car wash - the car had turned a light brown (it is sometimes white), smelled like a kindergarten (no offense Ami, Mary and Anabelle!) and had a layer of food and trash in the second and third row.  Free vacuums and they are the best!!  The kids helped me clean it out - this took us to 12:30...clock ticking...we ran by Walmart to get bird food, as Blue Bell had run out (Autumn informed me as we were leaving!!), which is always great people watching.  As we hurried to a check out, an old man was scooting by on his Rascal, reached out with amazing speed, grabbed my arm and asked "Americano or Italiano?" I was wearing my Del Piero jersey in observance of Columbus Day.  I leaned way down, pulled the back of my collar away to show him the Italian soccer insignia tattooed between my shoulder blades and told him "They stamped me before I left the country."  He roared with laughter and I wished him a Happy Columbus Day as we ducked into a line.
          Quick stop at Fry's to get the kids some lunch items and then we headed home.  Vito called me enroute and said he was on his way to my house.  He wanted to stop by Desert Sky to look at their kitchen and talk about Kim's dinner.  Why not?  I hadn't been to Desert Sky yet today.  I dropped the groceries, hopped in Vito's Mercedes and off we went. 
         Cindy Petersen, Office Manager at Desert Sky, showed us around. She has been pointing the decoration committee for the dinner and has some great ideas (if anyone has any white, blinking Christmas lights that they could lend us for the event, please let me know!).  It was good to see the facilities through Vito's eyes - it should be a smooth event!!
Tonio had it last week.  I was thinking sinus infection, because he had a lot of congestion over the last few days with coughing.  No temp.  I told him, after our appointment, we'd get back to the eastside quickly for the kids 5:30 swim lesson.  There is a CVS across the street and I thought I could take him to their Minute Clinic to get checked out.  We made it there by 5:10...to find, not every CVS has a Minute Clinic.  So, I told him that we'd hit the one on the way home after the kids swim lessons.
           He was a trooper, I got him a soda next door at Quik Mart to sooth his throat as the little ones swam.  Autumn's stroke has really developed and Antonio continues to improve.  6:05, swim lessons done.  We sped to the CVS at Golf Links and Houghton...and were the very last patient allowed to sign in!!  The nurse practitioner asked me what was wrong and I told her - she admonished me that I could have, should have just called the kid's doctor and he would have prescribed antibiotics for Cody over the phone, given he had just seen Antonio.  I let her go on for awhile before telling her I didn't think he had strep and besides, the kid's doctor was closed by now. 
          I was right.  Bad cold, no antibiotics needed at this juncture...
          7:30.  Ahhh yes, almost a flashback from the morning.  No dinner started...in a bad parenting move, I hit McD's (I bought chicken noodle soup...in a can, for Cody).
          8:30.  Kids fed, Cody medicated, gargled and nasal aspirated, I took Bella for a mile run, no sprint, through the desert.  The cool evenings are so nice.
          9:00.  Tonio helped me make a batch of chicken piccata, start the dishes and the wash and then through in Lady and the Tramp to watch.  That's the movie the bambini decided to show at Kim's Dinner.  They think the spaghetti scene reminds them of Kim and I...
          10:50.  I carried a sleeping Tonio off to bed, said goodnight to Mama with just Autumn - Cody had gone to bed around 9 and started to clean the kitchen, flip wash, etc.
          And here we are.  Almost through the day.  I don't think I would have changed anything - oh, Cody of course.  Poor guy, he rarely gets sick - but he had a little cold going into our roadtrip and I think the long days caught up to him. 

          We'll slow it down a little tomorrow...HA!  Just kidding!!  Time to get cranking on Prop 405 - I received a 20 page list of voter's names/numbers to call and will get going on that.  I know I've said it before, Kim worked tirelessly on the last two props - she found it odd that people would even question giving our wonderful Vail School District a few more dollars a month so they could teach things like art and have class room sizes under 30 students...AND we'll work on promoting Kim's dinner and figuring out how to sell a couple hundred tickets over the next 11 days!!!  Amongst other things, of course!!!

          I took Autumn to Pier One a couple weeks ago.  Janene had told me that they had some neat Halloween owls.  Autumn found a cute one, of course.  I know they have begun to do their seasonal change over and I'll take the kids by to check it out.  Kim definitely enjoyed the two overnights she did there.  She wanted to stay a work a day or two a week, despite the amount of time she was putting in at Rincon and volunteering at Cottonwood, etc, etc,  I'm sure she would have signed up to do it all over again this year!!!

         Happy Columbus Day,


PS Sorry no photos today!!  I'll try to incorporate some the rest of the week!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011



We ended up our Cali visit in San Diego's Little Italy for the Columbus Day Festa...my 'Legoland', no, better than that!!  It was a beautiful, 80 degree day and the crowd was estimated at around 100K, and I believe it.  We got there around 9:00 and left around 3:00 or so.

First, we went to Bella Stanza and visited with Jeanne, the owner, who had just returned from Italy.  She got to meet Bella and was delighted.  She showed us all of the new stuff she brought home and mesmerized us with tales of Venice, Florence and Palermo.   She presented Autumn with a new 'Ciao Bella' hat (sorry, no photos yet, I'll take some!) , and shared her newest photos of her grandchildren with us.
Then, we dug into the crowd.  Of course, the bambini wanted to play!

This little number had the bambini hooked to super strength bungee cords and the object was to take a velcro bean bag and see how far out you could place it on the strip of velcro running along the dividing wall.  Cody really got whipped around as he used his burst of speed to lunge the farthest with his bean bag!

Next, the Gesso Italiano (Italian chalk) art - this was Kim's favorite event at the Columbus Day Festa and she would look at each and every piece of art.  They stretch a full three city blocks along Date Street.

                         The Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene caught my eye on this one...another Kim favorite...

There was also a large section where artists were reproducing the Sistine Chapel to celebrate the 150th year of Italy's unification (by Mazzini).

We stopped by Amici park to see some of the bocce ball tourney.  Kim entered me in this about 8 years ago or so...these old players schooled me good!


The gentleman tossing the ball here, was a crowd favorite and very good player.  This is the type of character that Kim came to see and I knew she'd have made me get a picture...so I did!  He was very entertaining.

Next,we visited Our Lady of the Rosary church and saw some of the Lady's procession.  They have been doing the procession since the 50's, when they'd walk from the church to the harbor and bless the tuna boats before they'd go out for the season.  I wanted to go to Mass and see the whole procession, but was out voted 3-1, but, the bambini indulged me for a little while...
They had stick ball games, pizza tossing contests, a block of Italian sports cars and Ducati motorcycles (Cody took a bunch of pictures!!), cooking demo's and lots of street performances.  The highlight was Louis Prima Jr. (his dad was the guy who wrote "Just a Gigolo" and was King Louis in The Jungle Book).
Bella did great in the crowd and I only lost Antonio once...briefly.  We stopped back at Bella Stanza to say goodbye before driving back to Tucson.

We arrived by late, but the bambini insisted on lighting the Our Mother of Guadalupe and St. Jude candles in Kimmy's nitcho so they could say goodnight...I welcomed them home, just as she always did...