It’s been well-established here that our mid-century, faux Cape Cod home is in need of some updating. It would also benefit from more thorough cleanings than it gets when we finally turn our attention to that job each weekend. Happily, when just looking at it gets to be too discouraging, we have a ready escape: Gil and I are also still hanging onto our much newer Sedona place.

It was purchased much closer to the peak of the market than we like to think about, leaving us in the unenviable position of being underwater in the desert. Nonetheless, we love that pueblo-styled house in its canyon setting, and it was to this oasis that we headed as 2011 ended and the new year got underway.

The Arizona property is in pristine condition inside and out, little thanks to us. We get over there only once every blue moon, but were led early on in our ownership to an enigmatic but meticulous man named Marco, a native of red rock country who seemingly can make any repair and is also an expert in landscaping. As an added bonus, his lovely wife Silvia shines at housekeeping.

The only challenge we’ve had in our six-year relationship with Marco is that he has a tendency to not directly answer our long-distance questions, which we text to him because he does not answer his phone. We pose a question, Marco answers a different one.

We might text a message such as, “How soon will the sprinkler be fixed?” We’ll receive a reply: “OK.”

Or: “Arriving next week. Were the carpets cleaned?” Answer, after a lengthy delay: “Trash can new.”

Anyway, we arrived in late December to a spotless house. Seriously, not a speck of dust to be found anywhere indoors, nary a twig out of place outdoors. It was just like being on a real vacation. All we had to do was buy supplies, then settle back and enjoy the scenery — which did indeed include a new trash can.

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Being away from La Cañada did not mean we were not thinking of home. We tuned our TV into the Rose Parade coverage on New Year’s Day, planning to cheer on the LCF Tournament of Roses Assn.’s 2012 float, “If Pigs Could Fly.”

We watched the ABC presentation from start to finish, but never saw our hometown float in action. Apparently it glided down the boulevard during one of the many commercial breaks. At the very close of the program there was a collage of photos that included a brief glimpse of the pigs’ heads, but that’s it.

Later in the day I checked out the Valley Sun website to learn that the La Cañada effort had captured the Bob Hope humor award. Excellent job, floaters. Congratulations to President Ann Neilson and the entire all-volunteer organization. You do our city proud.

I can’t wait to find out what you’ll come up with in 2013. I think we’ll stay home next New Year’s, if possible, as I really prefer to see in person your finished product work its magic on parade viewers.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. She can be reached at ccormaci@valleysun.net or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.