Sunday, June 21, 2009

When Your Sister Hates Your Photo

For months I believed—and more importantly—my husband believed my Facebook profile photo was a good one. After all, he’s the one who snapped it.

We were on the deck of our oceanfront room at the Some Like It Hot Hotel in Coronado, California, while celebrating our wedding anniversary. Apparently he thought I looked nice enough to photograph.

Last night, however, I found out that my sister thinks it’s a horrible photo.

“Why would you use that photo?” she asked. “It’ not a photo of my pretty sister.” These were her kindest comments.

I think it’s a good photo. And yet, my sister Gayle (and apparently our other sister, Mary Beth, with whom she discussed it) thinks it looks nothing like me. Huh? I swear, it’s most definitely my FACE in that photo.

Maybe they didn’t recognize the me I am when I actually get four days off to spend alone with my husband. Or me with my hair down, a little bit of make-up and nice clothes. Me . . . actually happy?

Perhaps my sisters can’t help but still think of the kid with the face full of freckles and the mouth full of braces they once knew. 

It’s amazing how thirty-something years can change a girl.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Runaway Brides: Fazio Fails.

Diana Jones, communication director for the Tanque Verde Valley group against the Fazio wedding business development on Tanque Verde Loop in Northeast Tucson (Pima County), reports today that the County Zoning Inspector decision once again denied the conditional use permit to this 'wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.'

BACKGROUND: John Fazio and his wife, Debi, purchased a three-acre property in a residentially-zoned area on the East side's Tanque Verde Loop. Their intent was to develop a church and obtain a conditional use permit to do so. This may have been permissible if it weren't for their track record of using two previous "non-profit" and tax-exempt operations for what ultimately appeared to be a cover for a lucrative wedding business operation. 

Fazio was quoted that the Tanque Verde Loop location, "Mesquite Grove Chapel," intended to host some 70 weddings per year. This did not sit well with the residents of this otherwise quiet, horse-friendly neighborhood. This, by the way, is the same neighborhood that successfully fought the Tanque Verde Unified School District's efforts to utilize the $12 million afforded by the Arizona State Facilities Board to build a high school in their midst, on a nearby, Loop-adjacent property formerly known as the MK Ranch. 

Not a group to be taken lightly.


The Tanque Verde Valley grows 'em SMART and ACTIVE, and through a vociferous community effort led by neighbor Diana Jones, efforts stopped the Fazios in their tracks not once, but twice.

Per Jones:

“After a (VERY) long Board of Adjustments hearing, the board voted to uphold the Chief Zoning Inspector's decision that Fazio's plan appeared to be more of a business than a church.

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who wrote letters (about 50), attended (about 90), signed petitions (about 650), and donated in any form! I know everyone who supports us couldn't be there, and some who came couldn't stay for the 4 1/2 hours, but every one of you count!

Please join us this Saturday, June 13th @ 7 pm to hear Kevin's band play & visit with neighbors. More info to follow.

Your neighbor, Diana Jones”

Never underestimate the power of community organization. Congratulations to the Loop neighborhood. May your days continue to be filled with the peace of the Lord.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

N, NNNNNNNNNNNNNN! A Thousand Times N!

Mac Laptop Users, I ask you: Which letter on your keyboard is the most worn out?

I ask because I have two Macs made of the most current material. One is a Powerbook G4, which I keep because of some non-transferrable software; and one on which I currently type, a MacBook Pro. This laptop is about 13 months old. And I use it daily. The other one is, uh, older. I don’t know how old exactly, but that’s not important. What’s important for this topic is that on both, the most used (i.e. worn away) key is the N key.

If I were a horse, I’d say: “Nnnnnnnnnneigh.”

What’s UP with the N-key? Is it the N-word of the keyboard world? Is it because for old home row-method typists like myself the N-key is an index-finger key?  We all know the index finger may not be the most expressive, but it’s by far the strongest. And then again I wonder, is it because I’m right handed? Or is it because the N-key is so much more popular than my other right-handed index keys (H,J,Y,U and I).

I had to close my eyes and type those keys. And in doing so, I realized, there’s no way I could recite the letters of a keyboard and/or tell anyone which fingers touch which keys. It’s totally a rote-mind/finger thing.

I wonder, do my daughters feel the same way about their texting fingers touching their cell phone keys as I feel about my laptop keys? Is anyone teaching a texting efficiency class, or do keyboards just come naturally to children born in the mid-Nineteen Nineties???


Because I’m a SCRABBLE player, it occurred to me to consider the value of each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet and, of course, it’s no surprise that the oft-used N tile is worth only one point. So are all the vowels. Other consonants worth one point are  L, R, S and T.

So far, my 13-month-old computer is R and T clear . . . however, S is a wee bit worn. The L-key is definitely showing some signs of abuse, but it’s nothing compared to the N. Nope. (Even M—Ns next door neighbor—is looking far shabbier). And each of these cheap Scrabble letters, particularly the S, is ssssssssssorry and sssssssssad on the Powerbook G4.

So what’s the bottom line?

The bottom row of my keyboard has nothing where the N should be. And I have No point. Not really. . .

. . . Nuts.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Local Author Pens Another Winner

By Joyce Laabs
Features Editor

Summer resident Michele Van Ort Cozzens, who with her husband, Mike, owns and operates the Sandy Point Resort in Lac du Flambeau, has written another winner.

It's Not Your Mother's Bridge Club (McKenna Publishing Group) is set in the Rattlesnake Valley, a desert community in southern Arizona. (The Cozzens make their winter home in Tucson).

It’s the story of the members of "The Snake Eyes Dice Club" - eight middle-aged women who try to meet monthly to play Bunko. For many in the club this represents their only social outing.

The members: Sylvia, Brandy, Tootsie, Chloe, Amanda, Blanca, Tara and the narrator of all that happens, Shonah.

Members take turns hosting the monthly meetings, and preparing is quite a production in itself. There are also rules: No men or children allowed; and no drink counters.

The reader sees each woman evolve as they meet the challenges in their lives. We learn of their joys and frustrations through their own words.

Although Cozzens has been a member of a bunko group in Arizona for several years, she insists the ladies of the Snake Eyes Dice Club, are all products of her imagination - and that is good - for most members of the club border on dysfunctional - but perhaps if you dig deep enough in any person's life you will find most dysfunction in some area.

We loved the book, and empathized with each and every member of the club; and what a diverse group - from the very wealthy to just making ends meet - from obsessively scheduled to "living free" - from social drinker to alcoholic - they all had their unique characteristics.

Through their conversations at bunko parties and intimate thoughts on their relationships with members of the club, revealed by Cozzens' pen, the women come alive, and you will probably recognize someone you know.

Shonah, whose childhood friend founded the club, gave up her journalistic dreams when she married, but keeps a piece of it alive as a columnist for the local newspaper. Each chapter begins with a quote from her column titled "The Dice Club Chronicles."

I'm not sure I would have liked to have been a member of this particular bunko club - much too stressful for what is supposed to be a fun night with the girls - but it makes for a really great read.

There is another plus - you learn bunko.

The 240-page soft cover book sells for $19.95, and can be purchased at the gift shop at Sandy Point Resort or through

Five dollars from the sale of each book are donated to "Bunko for Breast Cancer" chapters across America for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Cozzens is a soccer mom, jewelry-designer and resort owner; married to the man of her dreams. They have two daughters, and as we said, divide their time between Northern Wisconsin and Tucson, Ariz.

Joyce Laabs can be reached at

Thursday, June 04, 2009

No One Loves Your Dog As Much As YOU!

We have a dog. She’s a six-pound, longhaired Chihuahua. How do you spell A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E? If you’re a dog lover, it’s hard not to adore Cinco at first sight. If she further blesses you with a sniff and offers the opportunity to pet her, the word L-O-V-E may even form in your mind.

If Cinco doesn’t like you—say you’re another four-legged bitch threatening her family, or she just doesn’t fancy the smell of you—you may find her yappy bark quite annoying. We get it. No one loves their dogs more than their owners. Some dog owners love their pets SO much they’re simply blind to anything that may cause others to be annoyed.


We used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. At the time, in the city of Berkeley, there wasn’t a STOP sign in town that didn’t have an additional message spray-painted below it. “STOP War;” “STOP Abuse;” “STOP Racism;” etc. Because of this, I remember not being the least bit surprised about finding graffiti on nearly every public sign in the East Bay. One I remember particularly well was in a public park. The sign read: “ALL DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH.” And the spray paint below it read: “This includes YOUR dog!”

So often people believe the rules don’t apply to them. Specifically in the case of dog owners, many are so sure their dog is the most well trained—the best-behaved dog ever—that a leash isn’t necessary. These are the same owners who simply don’t hear their dog barking incessantly at all hours of the day, whether they’re inside ignoring the barking, or away all day, neglecting the ‘best-behaved dog ever.’

As resort owners who happen to love dogs, we want to provide a facility that allows dogs. We’ve tried. Over the years, 17 to be exact, we’ve had to tweak the dog policy to make it work for us; however, I’ve come to believe no one reads policies in advance. They only read them after they leave, and only if they have a reason.

The reason would be, of course, because we kept the dog deposit.

 We currently don’t charge for dogs. We only charge a deposit. The deposit is refundable, unless there are violations to our policy. I can count the number of times we’ve found it necessary to keep a dog deposit. Most—repeat MOST—owners are highly responsible in picking up after their pets. There is virtually no sign that a dog was on property, indoors or out, after they’ve left.

Unfortunately, there are and will always be exceptions. And it’s the less responsible dog owners that ruin it for the rest. When the offending dog owner further proclaims we are completely unfair or unjustified in keeping the deposit and goes as far as to issue threats such as: We’re never coming back and we’re telling ALL our friends to never go to Sandy Point;” well, we have to put them in our “People Can be Jerks” file and move on.

But it also means we have to change the policy. We simply don’t like being put in the same awkward/difficult situation more than twice and being the kind of people who learn from our experiences, we once again find the need to change our dog policy.

Yesterday I searched for websites of other resorts that allow dogs and nearly every one I found charges a fee. It costs us $150 to fly with Cinco (and there’s NO clean-up required by placing her soft crate under the seat in front of us). Every hotel we stay at for weekend soccer tournaments that actually allows dogs has a fee as well.  So, our research has shown that Sandy Point is unique for two reasons: 1. It still allows pets and 2. It doesn’t charge a fee.

Time to get with the program.

We only allow dogs in the shoulder/off-seasons. This will still be the case. But now there will be a fee in ADDITION to the damage deposit. We don’t want owners to think just because they’re paying for the privilege of bringing their dog that they don’t have to clean up after their best friend as well.

And if we feel the need to keep the cleaning/damage deposit, I guarantee you, we are justified in doing so. If it means you’ll never come back to Sandy Point with your barking, shedding, clawing dogs . . . good.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Showbiz Kidz Danz Bunco Fundraiser

Are you looking for a chance to win $1,000? This is a fun opportunity for bunco enthusiasts to play the game they enjoy, raise money for a talented group of kids, meet new people and have fun!

The nonprofit group ShowBiz Kidz Danz Booster Club is hosting a Bunco Championship in Tucson on Saturday, June 27 at 3:00 p.m. Entry fee is $25 and the grand prize for the dice-rolling champion is $1,000. There will be live entertainment, food and drinks available.

If you don’t know how to play bunco, organizer Kathy Renteria is offering a “Bunco Bootcamp” at 2:45. Since bunco is one of the easiest games to learn, boot camp won’t be a painful experience. If you can count to six, you can play bunco.

The event takes place at the Junior League, 2099 E. River Road, just east of the intersection of River and Campbell.


According to Renteria, ShowBiz Kidz Danz is a community dance program offering more than 40 classes in pom, hip-hop, ballet, jazz, technique, break dancing, lyrical, tap and competitive dance teams. "Moms" classes such as strength and conditioning, adult hip hop and “praise” dance classes are also available.

ShowBiz began in 2001 and currently has some 400 students. “The owner, Jennifer Barton, can name every single one of those 400 students,” says Renteria. Mrs. Barton is also the dance instructor at Marana High School and has over 19 years of teaching experience. She prides herself in offering quality instruction at a lower price and provides scholarships to those in need.

“It is our belief that all children who want to dance should have the opportunity,” says Renteria. “It's not just about dance. It's about lifelong friendships, the confidence that dancers build, teamwork, responsibility and dedication.”

Reminds me a bit of what it’s like to be part of a bunco group.


Showbiz Kidz Danz is located at 6906 Camino Martin, Tucson, AZ. It has two small lobbies and four rehearsal studios. The main dance studio features over 1,000 square feet of hardwood floors with 8-foot mirrors along one side. Other rooms are available for tap and ballet. There is also a small homework room for the students to study in between dance classes.

According to Renteria, the Bunco Championship fundraiser on June 27 will help with competition fees, costumes and traveling expenses for dancers. They travel to Phoenix and California for monthly competitions and are hoping to travel to Florida, Texas or Las Vegas for other competitions.

Vendor booths at the event include: Avon, Partylite Candles, Gold Canyon Candles, Lia Sophia Jewelry, Sashay Jewelry, Gift Basket Creations, Amparo's jewelry, Pampered Chef, Arbonne Health and Wellness, Natural Health Chair Massages and more.

For more information contact Kathy Renteria at

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