Car crash diary, part 2

No photo, just blackness.

**

The immediate aftermath:

I do remember actually seeing the airbag receding, the smoke from the gunpowder twisting in the air as it dissipated. I closed my eyes. My upper lip was numb, and my upper teeth hurt. There was darkness, and I went somewhere inside my mind into a sort of semi-conscious state. My first thought was how could you DO this to me?? directed at no one in particular, just the universe. I was aware at once of all the implications. I was not breathing. Breathe, I told myself. I had that shock-y feeling when little light tracers twirled inside my eyelids. Breathe. I never thought I was hurt, but I was aware that the shock of the impact was having some kind of effect.

The next thing I was aware of was the sound of Desmond screaming. I didn’t know if he was in shock, or if he was hurt. I reached down into the center console, in front of the transmission shift lever, to get my phone. I slowly dialed 9-1-1. I must have lost consciousness for a few seconds because I knew that some time passed, but when I looked down again the phone was still in my hand. I was going to hit the “send” button, but I already heard the wailing of sirens. I have always hated when I’ve had some kind of problem, like crashing on the mountain bike, or falling off a swing when I was a kid, and would always get up and carry on as if nothing had happened. I think if no one sees it, it didn’t happen. This time, there was no avoiding it, other people were going to have to help me. Oddly, for me, I didn’t mind this time. I needed help.

I am not sure in what order things happened next, but I know my husband seemed to be okay, to my relief. That was another thing I thought of, how with his neck that hurts to begin with, he did not need this collision on top of everything else. Desmond got out of the car at some point, and tried to open my door. It was jammed. I didn’t mind, I wanted to sit there and not move for a while longer. I needed to get myself together. I heard him telling the EMTs that I should get looked at, that he thought I had lost consciousness.

I heard someone come up to the door and ask “Is she okay?” I don’t remember if I responded or not. The door was going to have to be pried open. I looked through the cracked windshield and I saw the hood was folded up and I could not see past the windshield. All around me were broken pieces of plastic; I was sitting in wreckage. My beautiful little car. Desmond opened the passenger door and tried to pull the key out of the ignition because the “door open” bell kept dinging. He couldn’t get the key out to stop it. I told him I was okay.

Finally, the firemen pried the door open. It seemed to me that it didn’t take much to open it, I thought the door was just stuck a little bit. When the door was opened, the EMT asked me if I was okay and I said “yes, I just need a moment.” I think he said something like “all you have to worry about now is what color your new car is going to be.” I didn’t know why he was saying that, of course I would get my Sonata fixed. It’s a nice car, I thought, and I like it. A little front end damage, but it will be fine.

I sat there for a while with the door open, and then a police officer came over. He asked me politely for my driver’s license, and I said, “it’s in the backpack, behind my seat.” He took the backpack out and I told him to unzip the main section and get the wallet out. “It’s black with pink flamingoes on it,” I told him. I am sure he had already run my plates and knew that I had a clean record that goes back to 1980 when I was first licensed in this state. The officer was very polite during the whole thing. He was even apologetic that he had to ask if I was impaired. He said, “I can see that you are not, but I have to ask.” I also directed him to where the insurance card was in the glove box. That was almost all the interaction I had with the police during the entire ordeal. The policeman left, and an EMT took his place next to me at the open car door.

“Have you tried to get out and walk yet?” asked the EMT.

“No,” I answered.

“Well, let’s try now,” he said. My seat belt was still buckled, but the strap was hanging loosely now. The EMT reached across me to help unbuckle the belt. I seemed to be moving in slow motion. Once he released the seatbelt, I twisted slowly in the seat, then he gave me his hand to help me out. I really had no doubt that I was okay, but I was a little shaky, kind of shock-y as well. I stood up slowly and took a tentative step. I thought I saw people clap in the gathered crowd at the edge of the road but I could have imagined it. As if this were some kind of show for their entertainment.

My right foot hurt a little, but I probably had so much adrenaline coursing through my body that I didn’t feel like anything else was wrong. I had the presence of mind to reach into the backseat floor area and grab my backpack and an envelope that I had needed to mail but didn’t because the mail store (our first stop that day) had just closed. While in the backseat, I saw the center console armrest had fallen open, and that my glasses, which I had been wearing, were back there. They had probably flown off when the air bag deployed. I retrieved them.

The EMT led me around the back of the car, and in the dark, I did not see the damage to my car. We were walking toward the ambulance so I could ride in the front seat. Desmond wanted to get checked out in the ER, but he did not want to leave me at the accident scene. I was so thankful for him watching out for me. I am afraid of doctors and hospitals, so I wasn’t going to get checked out. I keep myself to myself, I thought.

When I finally made it to the front seat of the ambulance, I climbed in. The officer came running up and handed my license and insurance card back to me. How had this happened, anyway? I asked myself again, something I would ask myself over and over in the coming weeks.

As the ambulance moved away from the accident scene, I looked over at the other car. It was wrecked. I asked the EMT if the person was hurt and he said, “No, she’s fine, just got jostled around more than you did.” I was relieved that the person wasn’t hurt.

I thought the cops would probably come and talk to me at the hospital later if they needed to. After all, they knew where I was and that I wasn’t going anywhere else for a while. But no officer ever talked to me again that evening, and the next conversation I had with PD was the next week, and that was because I called them myself.

It was full-on dark now, and I was quiet during the ride to the hospital. I walked with Desmond to the ER they put us in. I was worried about everything. Later, we would compare notes and find that we saw – or didn’t see – the same thing. That other car had come out of nowhere, its headlights had suddenly appeared directly in front of my car, when there was no time to react and prevent the accident. How was that possible? We’d both looked at the road, I know I looked twice, and there were NO cars coming. What had happened??? The question rang in my head, reverberating forever after.

Meanwhile, in the ER, I stood next to Des while he was treated for a burn to his arm from the airbag deploying. He was x-rayed, and had a CT scan. My brother-in-law turned up after a while to give us a ride home, and hours after the accident, we finally got home. As Pat parked his truck and we crawled painfully out, it hit me that my car might never come home again.

The Christmas lights that we’d hung so happily that morning were lit, an ironic, and painful, reminder that I would not be able to enjoy anything for a very long time.

Loss of a sweet friend

Last Sunday, I unexpectedly lost one of my close friends. Her death was a shock to me and my colleagues, and the past week at work has been dreadful. My way of dealing with grief is to write, and this is a note to my friend in case she is somewhere where she can read it.

**

Kristina, this is such a shock because it is the last thing I thought would happen. I knew you were not feeling well, and I even thought to myself, Kristina has been sick a lot this year, she seems always to have a cold. I wonder why? I was getting concerned, but never thought it would end like… this.

As I remember you, I am so grateful for your friendship over the years. I remember how you helped me get my current job. You were the only one who knew where I was working at the time, and could tell the principal where he could reach me. I guess we didn’t use cell phones as much then! And, that night was “Meet the Teacher” night. I had nothing ready because I didn’t know I would be hired as a third grade teacher that day, and you let me share your room for the evening to meet the students’ parents.

The whole beginning of that year was a whirlwind. I couldn’t have done it without your help and support. We always used to talk. Even though we didn’t talk as much later, when I started teaching 6th grade, we still had the same views on things, the same sense of humor. We made jokes about everything, and commiserated about troublesome students (and adults!).

You were a much more dedicated teacher than I am. You spent long hours at school, you took many extra classes, and you were much more involved than I am. During summer, you thought of doing more classes and improving as a teacher. All I ever thought about was escaping. No wonder I thought you were a worthy recipient of the employee of the month award, a trivial thing compared to the many positive things you have done that went unrecognized.

It’s weird around our school without you. It’s like a light has gone out, and that whole end of the building has been plunged into darkness. You added so much liveliness and energy. You were always there to help, to talk to, to share goofy student stories (and there always were plenty!).

It’s so hard to believe you’re gone forever.

The last few mornings, I’ve waited for you to drive into the parking lot and park your car next to mine, even though logically I know you will never be able to do that again. We’d always arrive at work at the same time, barring any traffic snarls, of course. We’d walk in to work together, talking about our weekend if it was a Monday, or about some crazy thing that had happened the day before.

I’ve even walked by your classroom a few times this week, each time thinking it can’t be true that you’re gone, hoping to find that you are back, and all is right with the world. But everything is wrong, all your things are there where you left them, but you will never touch them again. Colors blur as my eyes fill with tears.

How could you be here and reasonably fine on Friday night, and no longer be alive on Sunday? I just can’t grasp it yet.

Out in the garden, the radishes that our classes planted together are ready for harvest, but you are not here to supervise. I never would have thought when we planted them that you wouldn’t be here anymore after they were grown. I hope that when the kids finally hold the radishes in their hands they will remember how you helped them plant that day. It is almost all they have left of you now.

This school will feel the loss of you for a long time, if not forever. There are people here that are so affected that they can hardly make it through the day, including me. We think that maybe after spring break it will be better, but we know in our hearts that the pain will never heal.

Where do people go when they die? Where is the being, the life, that was you? I get the “leaving the body behind” thing, but the personality, the “person,” that was you, the essence of you, where is she? Where are you? We miss you so much.

We love you and miss you, Kristina. You did so much for so many people. There is a huge void where your presence was, and it will never again be filled.

Memories of a former life

Above: Sculpture at Westworld, Scottsdale, Arizona

I walked into the cavernous building with anticipation, and some nervousness. After all, the person with whom I was meeting was someone I had last seen about 35 years ago. She was such a big part of my life when I was a young girl, and then, abruptly, she was no longer there. I have missed her, and my old life, ever since. I never would have thought when I last saw her that so many years would pass before I’d see her again. What would it be like to reconnect with her, to talk to her once more? I would soon find out!

I first met my friend and mentor, Juli, when I was about 11 years old, and she was 16. We lived in Wisconsin, and my family was just getting into owning, riding, and showing Arabian horses. Almost everything that I know about horses, riding, and showing, I learned from Juli. I was young and impressionable, and I looked up to her so much. I learned more than “horse stuff” from Juli; I learned my work ethic from her, and through our experiences traveling to the horse shows, it awakened the desire to travel and live an adventuresome, gypsy-like existence. I also won a lot when I showed horses, and that was due to Juli’s help.

I arrived early in anticipation of meeting her. I was at the Scottsdale Arabian horse show in Scottsdale, Arizona, near where I now live. Sadly, I had not been to a horse show in years, and when I walked into the Equidome, all the memories and emotions came flooding back. There was a western pleasure class going on in the show ring, and I stood off to the side and watched.

Things had changed, and yet they were still the same. There were the same beautiful horses in the ring, probably even more beautiful than when I was showing. The riders were wearing the same type of colorful clothing, but flashier, with more rhinestones, and the horses’ tack had more silver and adornments. There were few horses in the ring, but that was because the class was a championship class, and these horses were the finalists from other, larger classes.

The young girls that milled around in the spectators’ area where I was were dressed in the usual horse show chic: dressed half for the show ring, and half for the barn, overly made up, their hair perfect, but wearing jeans and old boots. I remembered those times when I had been dressed like that, when I felt like I hardly dared to move for fear of messing up my hair! When I looked at those girls, I saw my own face, but 40 years ago. I thought about how weird it was to think that. Back then, at that age, I couldn’t have imagined what it was going to be like when I became my current age. No one thinks it’s going to happen to them. When you are a teenager, the world beyond the next few minutes doesn’t even exist.

I do know some of what I thought – I thought my life as it was then would never end, that I would always have horses, and would always ride and show. I also could not have imagined my life without those things, nor could I have imagined how quickly it all came to a screaming stop.

When I saw Juli approaching me, I recognized her immediately. I waved. She didn’t see me the first time, so I walked closer. I waved again, and this time she saw me. Her face lit up in a smile, a face I knew so well, but didn’t know anymore. “You look just the same!” she said, kindly lying a little bit.

“You do, too,” I exclaimed! Then we both laughed.

“Not really!” we said. We were the same, but older, and in some ways, it was like the intervening years had not existed.

“Tell me everything that’s happened!” I said, kind of meaning it, but knowing it wasn’t going to be possible in an hour’s time. We both laughed again, like old friends do.

We went to get coffee in the combination vendor and snack area just outside the arena. The classes were over for a little while, and Juli, who was one of the judges, had a break. We got our drinks and found a table.

We talked about horse shows, jobs I’ve had, our families, people we used to know, some that are still around in the horse business. Juli has been a professional trainer all these years, and it was a life that I had wanted. I will always regret that things didn’t work out for me to stay in the Arabian horse world. It hurts me more than anyone will ever know.

An hour and a half flew by, and Juli had to get back to the judges’ platform. It was so hard to hug her good-bye, and wonder when I would get to sit and talk to her again. After we parted, I wandered around the vendors’ booths, looking at show clothing (incredibly expensive now), tack, and all kinds of souvenir t-shirts. I wanted one, but restrained myself from spending $30 on a t-shirt.

I see the shadow of my former self out there in the ring:

Then, I walked back to the arena, and this time there was an English pleasure-type class in the ring. The horses were Half-Arabians, and all looked as if they were half Saddlebreds, always a showy, beautiful combination. They were stunning, and again, I saw myself as I had been so many years ago. I wanted to stay for the rest of the day.

I slowly walked to my car, and left the horse show world behind, at least for now. I wondered again how I could make it happen that I could go back. At this point, I will be lucky to be able to ride a “real” horse again.

I went home, and the rest of my day was spent in a fog of emotion and memories even as I enjoyed a photo shoot. I don’t know what the answer is to my longing to go back in time and “fix” my horse life, because that may not be possible. I want to ride regularly again, but it won’t be the same.

One thing I do know, though, is that I will do my best to not let so much time pass before I see Juli again. Maybe by talking to her and being with her, I can come to some form of acceptance of my fate. But I know myself, I won’t accept anything without a fight. I don’t want to give up the dream.

Where do I go from here? And, most importantly, will I get there before it’s too late?

Christmas Day, 2014

The dianthus I planted the other day looks beautiful and Christmas-y

**

It was a low-key day for me today. I slept in as I always do on Christmas morning, following the “magic” of the night before. Outside, the noise was at last hushed, the only silent morning of the year. There was no underlying roar of traffic, no commotion with sirens. I wished it could always be this way.

Not much happened on Christmas Eve this year except I said “goodnight” to Siri as I closed my iPad after reading for about a half an hour. I could no longer stay awake, and I succumbed to deep sleep in the warm cocoon of my bed.

Dad came over for Christmas dinner around noon. The meal consisted of things that we heated up or pulled out of the refrigerator. No big fuss. That way everyone can relax and enjoy, no slaving away for hours in the kitchen as in years past. Dad ate heartily, which was good, and then I showed him my Christmas present from Desmond, given to me at Thanksgiving, an iPad mini. I love it, and after I showed it to Dad, I think he liked it a lot, too. He’s 89, and I am always happy when he shows an interest in something. If I could just get him to go somewhere with me over the break to take photographs, that would be great, too. He is an excellent photographer, just hasn’t had much interest in doing it for the last few years since my mom died.

After Dad left, I went for a walk around the neighborhood. The roaming bands of big families weren’t out yet to disturb the solitude, and it was reasonably peaceful. The weather couldn’t decide if it wanted to be cloudy and cold, or sun and clouds and reasonably warm. It stayed mostly cloudy, windy, and cold, much to my happiness. After I walked, I had visions of curling up on the couch by myself and watching “Nutcracker” productions like I did two years ago, but Desmond and I decided to read instead. We sat companionably and comfortably side-by-side and read for a couple of hours (well, I did, and he fell asleep!). Later, we will probably binge-watch the Netflix series we are currently interested in.

It has been a perfect day, and it’s too bad it’s only one day each year. I’d like to have a couple of these days when it is quiet and peaceful, there is no pressure to go somewhere and do something, and I am at home enjoying the warm cozy-ness of deep winter. It’s the best feeling in the world.

A few of my favorite things

The winter holidays are the most emotionally-charged holidays of the year, for many people, including me. Since my mom died, the season hasn’t seemed the same. I’ve half-heartedly put up lights around our house and tried to enjoy. I do love the soft glow of holiday lights, and they always put me in a good mood. So, today I thought about some of the many things that made me happy this Christmas:

Speaking of lights, my favorite wreath is the one I made about 10 years ago, then updated last year, from a mountain bike rim and tire, and blue lights:

It was one of my racing rims, and I won a lot on it. I like how I was able to “recycle” it and make it into something joyful for the holidays.

**

My husband bought me a little plastic pen in the shape of a candy cane. The tag said “From Santa.” He bought it for $1 as a fundraiser at the elementary school where I work. It was a “surprise,” and he gave it to me on the last day of classes. I thought, I know that writing! I was right, it was from him. I absolutely loved it, and I loved that he got it for me.  It makes me especially happy when he does cute, unexpected things like that!

**

My school kids got me a little plastic ring with a purple “stone” in it. I know it was a cheap little thing, but it meant a lot to me that they spent their own money to get me something pretty. Sadly, the plastic “gem” fell out the second time I wore the ring. I had wanted it to last at least through the school year so they could enjoy that I wore it. I felt bad because those kids had to spend their money on cheap Chinese-made garbage that fell apart immediately.

**

My brother-in-law got me a gift card for Home Depot so I could get some plants. Of course, I was excited to use it right away. When I got finished choosing all the plants that I wanted, I had 85¢ left. I’m sure I will be able to use that as well! 😉 I bought snapdragons, pansies, dianthus, and couple of “Firebreather” iris rhizomes (flowers will be orange), which are different from the purple bearded iris that are abundant in our backyard planters already.

Here are the results of my plant-buying trip and the planting session that followed:

Backyard garden:

Front garden:

**

Being able to ride my motorcycles, all year. My riding partner, Hal, makes that possible, because without him, I wouldn’t be able to go (my husband does not ride). I suppose I could go by myself, but it would be a lot less fun. Here I am, loving my 2006 BMW F650GS, “Jewel,” a bike that was “dead,” but resurrected last year after five long months. Now she is essentially a new bike, at least as far as the engine goes. I thought about selling her, but when it came right down to it, I couldn’t bring myself to part with my Jewel. Too many good memories – for example, the first trip when I took her to Colorado (Hal was on his GS, the twin of this one, at the time), and all the wonderful trips between then and now. I still think she’s a beautiful bike, but I don’t take her in the dirt anymore.

**

Of course, there are other things that I think about, like how lucky I am to have good friends and family, but I don’t want to sink into melancholy by thinking about how the holidays have changed from joyful celebrations, to barely acknowledging that it’s Christmas Eve. My celebration tonight will probably be to do the things I normally do: call my Dad, post to my blog, and read. But those are comfortable, good things, and I will enjoy doing them. I also hope to stay up late and watch at least one music show, and experience “the magic of Christmas.”

Happy holidays to you, however you celebrate them.

Creativity and the automatons

I was standing in my classroom yesterday, it was filled with noise. I looked at the dark day, the beautiful clouds overhead, and at that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be sitting at home, quietly sipping lemon tea, and writing.

This may seem strange to you since I just finished a month-long writing challenge, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Many people wouldn’t want to write another word after finishing over 50,000 words. That is around 1700 per day for the 30 days of November. Think of that. And, if you happen to miss a day, well, then you have to write 3400 the next day. I won’t lie, some days were really difficult. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually do anything further with what I wrote for this most recent NaNoWriMo, but it is there if I want it. It is enough to know that I finished the 50,000 words.

Yesterday, I simply wanted to enjoy the dark, brooding day, to sit quietly and enjoy creating a story, letting it happen naturally. More than anyone will ever know (or care), I miss having opportunities to be creative. I saw this quote the other day: “Lots of people will tell you how difficult it is to be an artist. But nobody tells you how difficult it is to NOT be an artist.” This was accompanied by a depiction of a person obviously at work, looking very beaten down and tired, probably wondering how his life veered off the creative path into … “this.” It happened to me. I was happy working as a graphic artist, most of the time quietly sitting at my computer, figuring out how to use the different software programs to make things work to the best advantage, involved in a somewhat creative process, before the printing business as I knew it disappeared. It wasn’t all fun and games, but it was a creative outlet for me.

Now I must settle for writing stories, creating books, and making images, all for my own personal enjoyment and benefit, nothing else. These days, because of the internet and other technology, “everybody” is a writer, or a photographer, and there is no making a living doing either of those things. In addition, those in charge want people who are entering the world of work to become corporate automatons incapable of coherent, logical, or creative thought. That way, those in charge can stay in charge, right or wrong.

I suppose I should be glad that I am in the right place to try to foster some logical, creative thought in my students. That, sadly, is nearly impossible within the current educational climate, no matter how hard I try. I have to settle for dealing with incessant noise, and an impossible job. Creating things will have to be only for my personal enjoyment, and I will have to be happy with that.

Demise of a cactus

It is always sad when a living being dies, especially a tree or a cactus, but it’s even worse if a person that has lived with it for a while has to be the facilitator. That’s what happened to my husband and me when we found out our big lovely saguaro cactus was diseased – and had to come down.

The end began a couple of weeks ago when my brother-in-law, who lives with us, noticed that the cactus was leaning toward the west. The cactus, which was about 30 feet high, had been there for about 25 years; in fact, my brother-in-law had planted it when he moved into this house. He owned it before my husband and I did, and planted the cactus after he’d lived here about six months. When you buy a cactus in this state, you have to have tags for it to prove that you didn’t steal it from the desert. We’ve had the tags all these years. We’ve also watched it grow and flourish, from about three feet high when Pat planted it, to around 30 feet high when it started to lean. It had also grown several stubby “arms.” I was delighted when it looked like the arms appeared; usually it takes many long years before a cactus develops them.

I’d also noticed, over the years, that birds had made a hole in it on the west side. Cactus wrens, and other birds, too, make nests inside these cacti. Don’t ask me how they get around the long, sharp needles on its sides, but they do.

Neither my husband nor I had noticed the cactus beginning to lean, but recently, Pat did. We did not know the cause of it, so we called someone knowledgeable about cacti to diagnose the problem. We were also afraid it was going to fall over. Saguaro cacti that are the size of the one in the yard can weigh tons. If it did fall over, it would seriously damage the wall near it, and maybe the vehicles parked near it.

On the last morning:

The cactus was diagnosed with a disease that makes it mushy on the inside; in other words, it was starting to be destroyed from the inside out. With heavy hearts, we knew that it was going to have to come down, and we got a quote for that to happen. It was going to cost about $700, but that was less than having to repair or replace anything the cactus might fall on. I was also afraid that it was going to somehow fall onto our beloved dog who is sometimes near the cactus. It would be our bad luck that she would happen to be under it when it went.

After trying to contact the “cactus extractor” for a few days, we were able to make an appointment for the following Monday. I was glad I’d shot many images of the cactus in IR, and also in color. Just to make sure I had some, I went out on Monday morning to shoot more before I left for work. It was very sad to know that I was seeing it standing upright for the last time, that it would be gone when I got home in the evening. I made my husband promise to take photos as it was being cut down, but in a way, I felt that was a little morbid. It was watching and photographing the death of a living thing, but at the same time I thought it was chronicling something that was happening in our lives.

After I went to work, the crew arrived to take down the cactus. I later saw the photos. They had a cherry picker, and they went up in the basket to use a chain saw to take off the small “arms” of the cactus.

Next, they cut off the top of it, the part that looks like a fingertip.

You can just see the top falling off, in the bottom left of the photo:

They also put a rope around the main part of the body of the cactus, then cut into it at the bottom. This was the point where the cactus would break off and fall to the ground.

Then a couple of the guys started pulling on the rope, encouraging the cactus to fall harmlessly onto the grass near the pool.

This happened fairly precisely, and soon the large mass of the cactus’ body lay on the ground. Then the workers started to cut it into sections so the sections could be moved. They also had a four-tined “pitchfork” to help them move the pieces. Much like a tree trunk, the cross sections of the cactus told a story.

I never knew the woody “skeleton” was so far inside a cactus, and so relatively thin. The thick mealy material that makes up the rest of the insides is heavy and dense. When it was lying on the ground, it looked like a big cucumber.

After the cactus was down, the workers moved the pieces into a dumpster we had rented for a couple of weeks. It saved them a lot of time, money, and effort to do it this way, and they took some money off the total bill because of it.

When I got home from work that evening, I took several photos of the cross sections as they lay in the dumpster. Upon examination, I could see several areas where the disease had caused damage to the cactus. It was mushy and dark-colored in those areas.

This was the piece that the top was attached to:

The bottom of the cactus, which had begun to have vertical cracks in it:

Also, one of the smallest bumps on the cactus, the things that become “arms” later, was very black and mushy where it had joined the main body.

It was very sad to see it in pieces in the dumpster, a once proud living being, reduced to almost nothing. I thought of it as a tragedy, similar to how I feel whenever I go to the wildfire-ravaged forest and see the many charred dead branches of what were once living trees.

I never thought that big saguaro cacti belong in people’s yards, to be honest. Many people who move to Arizona want them in their yards, they have this “thing” about trying to own something that is part of the Sonoran desert – until they realize that the cacti are somewhat risky to have in an enclosed area where people and their belongings are. The saguaro cactus belongs out in the desert where it can live and bloom, and fall over naturally when it dies. They are beautiful plants in a strange and unique way, but are one of those types of living things that are meant to be out in the wild.

As for our yard, the stump was ground and removed, just like on a regular tree. Now the area has been smoothed over, and it will soon become a small garden for me to plant. Any flowers that will get planted there will become a living memorial to the tall proud cactus that once flourished there.

In remembrance, I can at least think that it was “happy” here, as it grew rapidly and eagerly when it was not diseased. Now the yard looks like something is missing, and it will take some getting used to. Soon, we will be able to gaze wistfully on the flowers of the new garden, and remember the cactus that made an impression there.