Archive for May, 2008

Anne Flaherty McDowell

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

A week ago today one of my favorite people passed to the other side, my cousin Anne Flaherty McDowell. She would have been 51 if she had lived another month and she lived most of her life in Gilbert, AZ. Her mother is my Aunt Lee and my dad’s younger sister. Her father was my dear uncle Bob, who passed a couple of years ago. I grew up in CA and Anne and her siblings in AZ, but because my dad had a small plane and strong family ties to AZ, we saw them several times each year and usually did a cousin exchange once or twice a summer as kids. Anne and her sister Charlene were like two more sisters.


Uncle Arden, Aunt Lee, Uncle David and Aunt Louise    

Anne died of breast cancer that was first diagnosed in 1995. She had surgery and chemo and a 7-year remission, but 6 years ago it came back in her bones as a stage 4 cancer. She has outlived the odds living as long as she did. I found out that she only went on hospice care a week or so before her death when they discovered that the cancer had destroyed her liver. Until then she was fighting it for all she was worth, trying the next chemo out there, knowing that there wasn’t a cure, but just trying to buy more time with her family. She loved life and fought hard for it, never complaining or whining.


Cousins Tim Flaherty and Alayne Udall Faverau

Anne was a remarkable person. She was the bravest of all of us girl cousins (there were about 10 of us on the Udall side in a 4 year window) and most of the boys. She was the first one to try something difficult. She was fearless, but smart. She was always laughing and upbeat. I remember how at the family gathering where she told us about her mastectomy. She laughed at the perfect symmetry of it as her husband Jim had lost his left hand in an accident and she had lost her right breast! How I admired her courage, strength, and faith.


Cousin Charlene Flaherty Hawkins and Me 

She and Jim seemed to have a wonderful marriage. I assume this because they both seemed so happy and they raised 5 wonderful sons who also seem well adjusted and happy as well. The boys (all eagle scouts) were the speakers at her funeral last Saturday and they made Anne and Jim proud I am sure. The service was only an hour and they painted a lovely sketch of Anne’s glorious life. The youngest son Matt would have graduated this week from high school, but graduation came a week early for him when school officials brought the ceremony to Anne in her bedroom the day before she passed so she could live to see all the boys graduate, one of her goals.


I found out about the funeral last Thursday night after 9 pm and was on my way down Friday by 9am. I called my cousin Dave Palmer to see if he would pick me up at the airport and put me up for two nights. It was wonderful to see my beloved cousins and aunts and uncles again down in AZ. It has been way too long. I just adore them all and feel such a strong bond to these people who were such a part of my youth.


Cousin Dave Palmer’s daughter Jacklin and family dog Ginger 

At the viewing there were many photos of Anne on display. One of my favorites was one of her doing a handstand (she was a natural gymnast before tumbling lessons were available). It was so Anne. I had this strong mental image of her doing a handstand and round offs down the aisle at the church in front of her casket as they headed out to the hearse. I didn’t recognize that body in the casket as her; the spark, and the laugh were gone. Although I know she hated to leave her boys and Jim, how she must have rejoiced to leave that ravaged body.  Thank you Anne for being so much fun and for being such an example to me. We all have to jump off that inevitable cliff called the end of life someday and you have shown us how it is done.

This article about Ann appeared in an Arizona paper this week.

Spring in Spring City

Friday, May 16th, 2008

I have been working my tail off since we got back from the river trip I last wrote about. There is a small orchard on our new property and the trees have not been pruned for at least 6 or 7 years. I knew that Joe was not going to have time to even consider doing that before leaving on his first Grand Canyon trip of the season. I knew that it should be done before the trees put a lot of energy into leaves and flowers on all those limbs and suckers that needed to come off, so I looked at a few books and talked to a few people about pruning and just dove into it. The best piece of advice I got was that the tree should be open enough that you could “throw a cat through it”.  That was a very helpful image to consider as I contemplated if I needed to remove a branch or not.


Could you throw a cat through it? 

It took me most of three weeks to get all the trees done. During that time we were also busy cleaning out the creek that runs through our property and right behind our home. It also had not been cleared of debris or overgrowth for about a decade. It hasn’t been much of an issue the last decade because we have been in a drought, but this winter we got lots of snow, and so far our spring has been cool and we still keep getting more snow in the mountains. One of these days it is going to get hot and stay hot and we will be having a lot of water coming down all at once. I am more than a little concerned about our home being so close to the creek and thus we have done everything we could to make sure that the water is able to move past us. We had help getting started one evening before Joe left from the local Boy Scouts. I then hired three of the scouts who are brothers to come and help me finish the job after Joe left on April 21. In all I think we taken over 12 pick up loads from just the creek to the dump in the last 6 weeks. I have taken another 6 or 7 from the lot and orchard. The guy at the dump gate knows me well, and my hands have some pretty good calluses on them.

 clogged-creek.jpg    clean-creek.jpg

The creek, before and after  

Also while Joe was gone I worked in our cellar, finishing building some storage shelves and organizing it down there. I needed to do that so I could clean out the garage. There were many things in the garage that needed to go down to the cellar. The garage became our “black hole” for everything we didn’t know where to put when we moved in, but knew we didn’t want buried in deep storage. By June 1st I have to be out of my cabin studio at our old home, and so I needed the garage cleaned out so I can set up temporary studio up there until my new studio/barn is built. I have the cellar and the garage pretty well organized and now I am finishing up a few paintings that I need to get done before the move. I am almost done with them as of today. I actually filled about 5 boxes of ceramics, glass and books that are in my studio. 

The best way to sum up how hard I have been working is that I haven’t been on the back of a horse since late November. Usually by this time of the year my horses are starting to get in shape. It is strange having them over at the old place still and perhaps that is part of it, as my trailer and tack are over here, but mainly it is that I just haven’t had time or energy with everything else I am doing.


Mom in front of her apt. 

I do make time to go up and spend a weekday and usually Sunday’s with my Mom in Provo, and take the dogs on a walk or two each week. I also did manage to design and do a lot of the writing for our Horseshoe Mountain Pottery News, which will be hitting the mail stream tomorrow. Let me know when you get it!