Category Archives: Family

Rainbow Love

Bean on the Zip-line Photo Credit: Melissa Haun Photography

Bean is a Valentine Girl. Born on Valentine’s Day, she fully embraces the whole heart deal. Last week when we celebrated her 5th birthday it was not Valentine hearts at the party. Bean requested a rainbow theme,
Bean: I want everything rainbow.
Me: Um, okay.
We’re not exactly the themed party kind of family, more the beer, lots of food, let the kids run wildish kind of party house(I’m surprisingly uptight about a few things in the kids rooms, like please don’t tip everything out and then step on it cos it drives me nuts, so we typically go for outdoors.)

Bean decided on the rainbow theme back in October when her Auntie Green was here and they made a sign for the tree house that Green and Grandpa had been working on – The Rainbow Castle. Given our neighborhood population it seems rather fitting.  There is a picture somewhere of me holding her for the first time with Green in the hospital looking tired and elated and in the background you can almost see the rainbow. Bean is truly a rainbow heart girl. So a rainbow theme it was.

The castle was painted, the Full Spectrum Rainbow Cookies  made(I still want to call it a cake, but Debbie is pretty firm on them being cookies and it is her recipe), that Bean begged me to make made. This time we used apricot preserves and just two pans and both worked great. Bean picked out some rainbow like clothes from her closet and voila, a rainbow themed birthday party.

Photo Credit: Melissa Haun

The photographs were taken by my friend Melissa Haun, who is an amazing photographer and really captured the day. Thanks Melissa.

Remember comments on this post and all posts starting with the Dang it, Parent’s Need to Eat Too post whether about food or not, enter you for the Parent’s Need to Eat cookbook giveaway. The Full Spectrum Rainbow Cookie recipe is available on Debbie’s site, not in the book, but there are plenty of other fabulous recipes and tips in the book.



February 18, 2012 · 4:45 pm


I had the following conversation with my brother long before I had Bean or even met Green. This is an approximation of the conversation, it was a long time ago after all, but I can still hear my brother saying this. At least I like to think I do.

Danny – I want five kids
Tepary – FIVE kids? What?
Danny – Yep, five kids. I’ve got their names picked out too.
Tepary – Well you best get started then.
Danny – Who says I haven’t?
Tepary – Who is the lucky girl?
Danny – Who says there is just one.
Tepary – Dannnnnnnnnnnnnnnny!!!
Tepary – Alright, what are their names?
I wish I could remember all of them. I remember just two. One was something terribly irreverent, the other was Yehudi.

He was kidding.

I think.
Danny totally had the dead pan face down and he was funny as well as brilliant.
We had that conversation in the summer of 1995. We talked a lot that summer. He was in California at Stanford in a doctorate program, being brilliant. I was back working in the lab I worked in while I was an undergradutate, and taking an American Folklore class as a requirement for my teaching certificate. I really liked that class, I liked talking to my brother about the class as my project was on the storytelling of the area we were from in England. I’m afraid the class encouraged a spat of bad joke telling Danny didn’t dissuade me from and may have even encouraged. I think I thought if I could tell jokes I was more likely to get a date. Yeah, not the greatest plan, but sharing terrible jokes with my brother that summer over the phone is a favorite memory. The conversation about names, that was one of the last I had with Danny. He died 16 years ago last week. I miss him terribly.

I talked to my mum the day before the anniversary, my dad on the day. We each remember him in our own ways. Candles lit, a walk, a poem reread. Funny thing though-both my dad and I googled him. Put his name in and wanted to see what was out there. 16 years ago the web was here, but it wasn’t here in the same way. Does he still exist in our web-based world. Does it matter? I don’t know that it does, he is part of my thoughts often. Bean talks about my brother, her uncle she never knew. I wish she did. I do think it interesting though that both my dad and I independently looked online for his presence. Hilary wrote this beautiful tribute to her friend Michael. Something that put him out there in the cloud again.

I don’t want the first thing I find when I google my brother’s name is his obituary. I want it to be a conversation about naming kids, something I can imagine talking with him about now as Green, Big Mama* and I talk about it.
Yehudi, I’ve said to both of them.
They both know I’m joking. I don’t have that same ability to pull the poker face like Danny, but I say it and I can hear his voice,
“Yehudi Hughes. I like the way it sounds.”

So Mum and Dad this is for you, and me, a conversation about the naming of kids that plays in my head over and over again. I love you both very much and I’m not always very good at showing it.

In 1994. Ha ha ha, my shirt is tucked into my shorts. Danny, D and me.

*Big Mama is the expectant mother we’re talking with. She named herself.


Filed under Family, Uncategorized

Tucson Treasure – All Souls Procession

asp lantern
I remember seeing the rag-tag group moving down Fourth Avenue in the early 90’s and then in the mid 90’s sitting in O’Malley’s with Julie, I think, watching it again, still small. Today, the All Souls Procession, is truly a sacred Tucson Treasure. It represents something so magical, so community-based, and so healing that it should be nurtured, protected, revered. If you’re in Tucson and you haven’t been, mark the second Sunday in November 2011 now. You should go.
asp skull
What is it?
The All Souls Procession is a time to celebrate the lives and mourn the death of loved ones and ideas. Echoing the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, face paint, homemade costume and creative lanterns bring a sense of ritual to the event.
asp guitar
Why go?
The culture I belong to, (perhaps you do too?) has such issues with death. We have lost the ritual and tradition of wakes. The above all things work culture demands that death of loved ones be quickly addressed and not interfere with work production. How wonderful is this then? A time to celebrate, to laugh and love and cry. A time to remember. Death meets us all, but before that we get to live. We shouldn’t try to pretend that death isn’t part of the deal.
asp mama1

Do you take your child with you?

For a humanist/atheist, the death of a loved one provided me with a real parenting test. How do you explain death to a small child? Oh, how easy it would be to say the dead loved one is in heaven, or in the case of our sweet pups in doggy heaven chasing trains and rabbits. Easy to say we would see them again, but the truth, the truth is harder. We told Bean that death means the person is no longer living, we can no longer see them, or touch them, all the energy has left them, but that we still have love for them in our hearts, and sweet memories in our minds. That we always have them with us in a way as long as we have that love and those memories. *
Altdot Fall Exchange
Bean’s First All Souls Procession in 2007.
Sometimes, Bean says she is keeping Huxley in her stomach. Heart, stomach I get them confused too. Sometimes, like tonight she corrects me when I tell her that we’re celebrating the lives of those that have passed, “No Mummy, they haven’t passed. They’re dead. But we can remember them, and we can think about them, and we keep it here in our hearts.” As someone who spends too much time worrying that my child will be left motherless, it is important that she has a framework for understanding death. To understand the sorrow, but also how important memory and celebration of life is.
asp whitemask

The All Souls Procession draws upon Día de los Muertos and traditional rituals that include Catholicism, but the procession is for all walks of life and does not have to be religious. Whether you are religious or not, the procession is for all ages.

*remind me to tell you about a really lovely childrens book we found that deals with death without religion.


Filed under Arizona, Celebrations, Community, Family, Humanism/Atheism, Navigation of Dangerous Water (Parenting), Treasures of Tucson and Southern Arizona

One wild and precious life

Above my desk and on the door at work I have the following quote from Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day,

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.

I’ve thought on that line a lot lately. That line, the verbal kick to the ass my friend Trish gave me a few weeks back (thank you Trish), but mostly the following interaction with Bean when I was upset one evening. She stroked my face, wiped the tears away, and said, “It’ll be okay Mummy. We’re not going to die. We’re going to exercise and eat healthy and we’re going to be okay.”

Dear God. What did she hear? She saw that I was upset. That I was worried, but wow, she was putting stuff together. I think this was the final straw.

I resigned from my job last week. A job that in essence I loved, but that has, for a variety of reasons, become stressful and all time consuming. The emotional drain of some aspects of work coupled with niggling health worries*, and a recognition that there are things** in life that I, that we, want to do and that we aren’t doing because there is this huge time/emotional energy suck is pushing this decision. These factors are having a negative impact on my health, and on our quality of life. Frankly, I’m also fed up of feeling like I need to defend the fact that work isn’t my number one priority. This I realize is my response to society’s pressure and some of my colleagues’ feelings and not my boss’s directive, who has always been supportive of my attempts to find a work-life balance.

Still, making this move feels reckless. I’ve always worked. Like many of us, my sense of who I am is tied up in my employment. There are obviously going to have to be some fairly significant adjustments to our spending habits, but we can do it (Trish, K and Monica, I need your help). There are ideas already fermenting as to next job moves, but we’ve made a firm agreement that there are some basics must be addressed first. I know how very fortunate I am to be able to make this choice. I am extremely grateful for the support that I feel from my partner, my family and my friends. Thank you.

*I’ll probably say more about this, nothing serious, but with my history it maybe isn’t really a surprise that I jump to worrying

** more quality time with Bean, adoption paperwork, unrushed time with each other being primary, exercising & eating healthy, gardening, HAMO, fixing up house, local community involvement, science stuff


Filed under Family, Health



you just want to move on from a week and on to the next.

A glass raised earlier this week to my beautiful brother on an anniversary of an event I wish never happened.


Filed under Family, Heart

Huxley 1997-2010


I think most of those who knew Huxley have heard our sad news already. Our dear, sweet boy passed away gracefully this past Friday afternoon with the help of our vet. The tumor on his shoulder had grown substantially and in the past few weeks before we left for Ireland he had begun to show signs of real discomfort . It was an incredibly hard decision to make, but we hope the kindest one. We miss him terribly, that gentle canine soul. In my mind and heart he still is the lovable, goofy, handsome, not terribly bright, puppy who along with Darwin put up with me and then welcomed and loved both Green and Bean when they each joined our family.

I found Huxley at the Humane Society at the end of 1997. He was about a year old, huddled in a corner whimpering. I got him out of the cage and he jumped vertically up, all four legs in the air, and turned around and around and that was that. Shortly, after he came home I had my cardiac arrest at the ripe old age of 27. Huxley (as in Thomas, rather than Aldous or Elspeth) and Darwin (who passed away 18 months ago a month shy of 16 years old), were my constant companions through that stressful recovery. They, along with some very wonderful human friends, saw me through a string of boyfriends and broken hearts, through career changes, through meeting my husband to be and the birth of our child.

Huxley was the retriever that didn’t retrieve, the water dog with a total abhorrence of water, but he was also possibly the most sensitive and in tune dog I’ve ever met. He let children clamber all over, use to roll over and stick his legs wide out to the command “Suzy Sorority” (Me? No, I would never have taught him such a thing. Not me.”). Huxley was one of the few dogs who really could smile when he was happy and he was my loyal sweet boy. I will miss him terribly.

Favorite Things -Birthday #6


Filed under Family

Bye bye Ireland

We’re off. Actually we’ve already left, but the wonders of delayed publishing allow us this.

Bye bye Ireland.

Back to work we go.

By the Annalee


Filed under Explorations beyond Southern Arizona, Family