Saturday, February 4, 2012

Staying Put Never Keeps Me From Rambling

Sly and another critter at the Arizona-Senora Desert Museum

When I last blogged a few weeks ago, my 19-year-old son Sly and I were on a camping trip to several Tucson area tourist traps. (By the way, our tickets to most of the places we visited were BOGOs because I bought a Tucson Attractions Savings Passport. If you're going to visit Tucson, you should buy one, too.)

Sly and a portion of Biosphere 2

On our penultimate day on the road, we visited Biosphere 2, north of Tucson near Oracle. Years ago, Biosphere was an experiment that had humans living in a domed environment to explore possible space colonization and ways to survive on Earth in case of environmental disaster. Due to funding and management disputes, as well as factors of "confined environmental psychology" (we used to call it "Cabin Fever" in Alaska), the experiments that involved having humans live inside the facility ended. A few years ago, the University of Arizona took over management and later ownership of the site, and now they are running experiments on climate change and other issues.

We enjoyed the tour at Biosphere 2, and it was fun to imagine what it would have been like to live there back in the day. There are several really warm, lush biomes, as well as harsher desert environments, all in one big complex. I never felt like we were getting the whole story as to why people no longer live inside the facility, but it really didn't matter. There is still a lot of interesting stuff going on there, and it's a great learning environment for both the University and visitors.

Harris hawk

After our tour, we hit Tucson's rush hour traffic to try to get to the campground in Saguaro National Park that lies west of town. We had hookups and bathrooms there, but no showers. The next morning we drove to the nearby Arizona-Senora Desert Museum, which is one of my all-time favorite places to enjoy and learn about nature. They have it all there--museum exhibits, art institute and gallery, zoo, trails, cafes, gift shops. It was all fun, but the highlight of the day was seeing a demonstration of Harris hawks in flight, sometimes so close over our heads that we were brushed by their wing feathers.

After the hawk fly-over, we headed back home to Why, where we spent the remainder of Sly's visit, mostly in quieter pursuits such as playing board games, doing jigsaw puzzles, and sitting outside reading in the afternoons. When Sly had been here for a little over two weeks, we drove up to Phoenix for his flight back to Seattle. However, this was on the first full day of the Seattle Snowmageddon, and all of the flights were canceled and it was hard to predict when Sly could get out. So I rescheduled Sly's flight to have him stay an extra week. As it turned out, this was a good plan--some parts of the Seattle area were without power for five days.

Deer, deer

The extra week also gave my ex-husband a chance to look into some resources for Sly. Within a few days after his return to Seattle, Sly started a day program in the psych ward of a hospital near his dad's home. They're making a new assessment of his condition and revising his meds, which had been giving him a lot of scary side-effects. So far, switching up the meds is making things more difficult, and Sly is also having to do a lot of hard work on issues that he'd rather not look at, but ultimately this should all help with his recovery. In the meantime, the Social Security Administration has determined that Sly is disabled and has started providing some funds, which will really help in getting Sly into a semi-independent living situation as well as funding his future healthcare needs.

Sly's painting of a blue one-eyed singer

Sly's extra week here in Arizona also gave him time to do more artwork. He finished painting some deer antlers for the neighbors, who had him over for dinner one night, where he showed their friends a painting he'd just completed and sold it on the spot! That was very encouraging. Sly has also had some sales in the past on his Etsy site, and maybe he'll be able to add more paintings there once he finishes his partial hospitalization program.

Dina in Brian's Chinooky Van

Another benefit of Sly's extended stay was that my friends Brian and Jon from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, came through and stayed with us a couple of nights in Why, so my son got to meet some of my friends and vice versa. Somehow I managed to only take a picture of Brian's dog Dina while the guys were here, rather than any photos of the guys themselves. But we had some nice meals, a campfire, time to all sit together in the sunshine, and all that good quality camping-with-friends stuff.

Since my son left, I've been really concentrating on taking care of myself. Steve and I drove up to Casa Grande, a city that lies between Phoenix and Tucson, one day so I could get my Arizona driver's license. Becoming an Arizona resident will enable me to get on a state health care program, which I need because my pre-existing knee replacement and other arthritis problems make private health insurance prohibitively expensive. I had a scary high blood pressure spike one of the last day's of Sly's visit, and I've been more aware of blood sugar issues lately than in the past, so I'm planning to call on Monday to set up a physical at the community clinic in Ajo, where they can get me started on the state program for low-income residents.

Steve and Sonja in the leather chairs

I've had a little more time for socializing since Sly went back to Seattle. It's a big arts weekend in Ajo, and our friends Arnold and Dusty have their historic house on a home tour, so they've been painting and redecorating, and last weekend Steve and I ended up with their nice old leather chairs.

The past couple of days, I've been helping our friends Clyde and Joan (silversmith and quilt designer, respectively) with their booths at the annual "Quilting in the Senoran Desert" show, and that was really fun. I saw beautiful, inspiring work and learned a lot, and got compensated for my time by getting some of Clyde's beautiful handmade jewelry as well as having a good lunch from the Oasis Cafe both days.

Now I'm ready to Sonja:

Sonja having a sit-in


  1. Awesome artwork - please tell Sly! I'm glad you and Sly are both getting health issues addressed. It's never fun, but so necessary. Wishing all the best to you!

  2. I want to know more about the health plan you mentioned. Please? What are Arizona's residency requirements?, etc.

    The Good Luck Duck

  3. So glad to see a post from you! I think of you and your son often ... ;)

  4. SLY's artwork is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he has great talent and is a cutey pie too--I hope the changes will be postive for him.

  5. Thanks for all the positive comments about Sly's artwork and our attempts to improve our health.

    Roxanne, the program is the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (written as AHCCCS and pronounced 'access') and it is Arizona's Medicaid program.

  6. As always, a great post. And I concur Sly's painting is way cool. I've been following your Arizona exploits with interest and enthusiasm and admiration.