Sunday, December 12, 2010

Arvel Bird at the Pueblo Grande Indian Market

Yesterday we went to the Pueble Grande Indian Market to hear Arvel Bird and shop for Christmas presents at this Native American arts fair.   The site was the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix.   Tents filled with pottery, jewelry, paintings, baskets, and other treasures lined the area.   Tribes from all over Arizona and surrounding states were represented.   There were so many beautiful pieces of jewelry.    I wish my pocketbook could support my taste!

Posted by PicasaArvel Bird is my favorite Native American musician.  I already had two of his albums and took advantage of the Market special to add another one.   He is Paiute and Irish, and he mines his heritage to create wonderful music.  More about him, and a sampling of his songs can be found at

We rode the Light Rail train into the Market, which was fun.  I love riding the train.   On the way back we stopped mid-way to have dinner at Switch,   Switch has great food and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. 
Music, culture, fine dining--it was a great day in the Big City. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

All Aboard!

Last night the Sun City Grand model train club had a rare evening train run.   Since there are so many families visiting at Thanksgiving, this was a great family treat.   We went since we're young-at-heart.

The night was unusually chilly, but that didn't stop the trains.  
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Whoo's There?

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     This Great Horned Owl stopped by my neighbor's house on Friday, and Kent was able to get his (her?) picture. My other neighbor was outside working in her yard, but the owl didn't seem to mind at all. He stayed for a long time even though all of us were snapping photos of him. The neighbors whose fence is being used are still in Iowa so they missed him.

      A summer or two ago one had landed in a tree behind the house. Because of the way he was acting, we thought he was sick. It was an unusally hot day, and the wind was blowing hard. The owl was perched on a tall stump and had spread his wings out. It looked like he was trying to cool off. He stayed for over an hour, even ignoring a really lucky rabbit that had hopped nearby. Eventually the owl did fly away so perhaps he wasn't sick at all.

       During the winter we sometimes hear them call to each other at night. We haven't heard any for a long time so we were hoping we might hear them Friday night. However, we have been sleeping with the window open since Friday, but we haven't heard any owls. Still, it was great to see him and have him visit.

      We've seen a lot more wildlife the last two weeks. The cool weather has either made them more active or us. I'm not sure which it is. One spectacular day was last Wednesday. Kent saw a bobcat early in the morning. When I went to see it, however, it was gone. Then about an hour later we both saw two coyotes in the yard. One of them, nicknamed "Bob" by the neighbors, has lost his tail. It didn't seem to slow him down, however. Later than night we were walking. It was already dark, but our area is well-lit. Down by the golf course, FIVE coyotes crossed the street in front of us. They were going from one side of the golf course to the other. It was too dark to tell if Bob was with them or not. We were so surprised--we had never seen eight coyotes in one day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Queen Butterfly

        We had a new garden visitor stop by, a Queen Butterfly.    It's a lovely small butterfly, one that is suppose to be attracted to milkweed.   We have a lot of milkweed in the yard, but so far we have only attacked Hawk-wasps, a harmless but creepy looking insect.
         The plant that appears to be the attraction is a new one that Kent bought at the Desert Botanical Garden's fall sale on Friday.   Ageratum corymbosum caught his eye when he saw there were four butterflies on it at the plant sale.   He had never heard of Ageraum corymbosum before, but he bought it.  It's a member of the asteraceae family, and also appropriately known as Butterfly Mist.

Here it is in its temporary home and before being planted in a larger pot.  We would plant it in the yard, but it looks like the rabbits might like it as much as the butterflies. 

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     The Queen butterfly is lovely.   Danaus gilippus for those who like to be precise.  I like Queen better.  For more details on this species, check out

Sunday, September 26, 2010

On the Road See Willie

     I went with my friends to Laughlin, Nevada this weekend to see Willie Nelson in concert.  What a great show!   The man is a legend .
        He performed at the outdoor theater at Harrah's to a sold-out crowd.    He'll soon be 77, and he sounded just as good to me as ever.   He sang some songs that alluded to getting older:  "I'm Not Superman" and perhaps a new verse that mentioned a heart attack in "You Don't Think I'm Funny Anymore".  Maybe the lines were true.  Or at least true in the way that great fiction (and songs) are true.   But then again, he is still touring and wowing the crowds.   So for me, I think he's a Super-man.       

This was my first trip to Laughlin, and I hope to go back soon.  It's much smaller than Vegas, but also much more affordable and without the congestion of Vegas.   A fun atmosphere and the slots were good, too.   I didn't come home a huge winner, but I didn't come home a big loser either.  All in all, not a bad outcome.   Heard some great music, saw a legend, and kept my shirt, too. 
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Broadway Comes to Grand

    We had a rare treat on Tuesday night.    I was able to get home from work early enough for us to go to a Grand event.   Sun City Grand always has lots of things going on - club meetings, dances, musical performances, speakers, etc - but most of them are scheduled during the day or early evening.   I'm at work and can't participate.
    But on Tuesday I was able to go to a "Pot Luck" dinner and listen to performers from the Arizona Broadway Theatre perform for us.   Kent and I had been to their theater to see "Miss Saigon", "Bye Bye Birdie" and other performances.   But this was the first time we had been able to see them here at Grand.
    They put on a great show!   For over an hour the performers sang hits from many Broadway shows.   David Errigo, Jr. started the show with "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" from "Oklahoma".  He is a talented singer and in my opinion the show-stealer that night.   He also sang "Suddenly Seymour" from "Little Shop of Horrors" with Maris Fernandes, and did an energetic and comical version of "I Can't Stand Still" from "Footloose".   The other singers were also very talented.  Jeannie Shubitz and Jason Fleck sang "Til There Was You".  Only after the song did we learn that they are a real-life couple.   Amy Wyatt, and Rhys Gilyeat were also wonderful performers.
     We got lucky with the Pot Luck, too.   At our table were 8 other couples who were all very nice and interesting people.  Most of them lived here full time.  One couple has a house in Utah, and they spend 2 weeks each month in each place.  Now that is splitting up your time!
      The food was excellent.  Kent fixed his Southwest Salad that is made with Jicama and caramelized nuts.  Yum!   Since our table got to go through line first, there were plenty of choices.  Ham, chicken, eggplant, and multi-bean baked beans were all great.  I hope the end-of-the-liners were as lucky.   At the end of the evening we both said this is something we hope to do again soon.       

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September Chill

Posted by Picasa     Okay, so it's not anywhere close to chilly, but the weather IS cooler.   We were able to take walks on Friday and Saturday, and twice today.   Last night and this morning I actually sat out on the back porch for a little bit before the heat chased me inside.    Still, it has been much more comfortable than a few weeks ago.
     When I was out walking this morning I passed a number of people that I don't usually see.   They were the later set; the people without dogs.  Dog people are early people, and today I didn't walk until around 8 a.m.    
     This is a picture of the golf course that is closest to us.   I always stop to look for coyotes, even though I can't remember ever seeing any here.   Lots of bunnies, however, so the coyotes are probably close by.  
     On the other side of the street is a retention pond.  Yesterday a giant Blue Heron was standing in the water, fishing.   I didn't have my camera with me then, and today when I did he wasn't there.    But I should be able to get a photo of one soon.  They winter here and are wonderful to watch. 
     Kent is going into Parker with me tomorrow so we can get our flu shots.   I used to skip them, but not any more.   A real sign of aging is when you want to get a shot.  
     Yesterday we had lunch at Corta Bella,, a gated community that was built shortly after Sun City Grand.   It's much smaller and has an Italian flare to it.   The thing we like is their restaurant.  It is upscale but affordable for lunch, with a great view.   Lately it has been almost empty, which is bad for them but wonderful for us.   
     Since we have moved here, we don't eat out very often.  Since Kent is home, he usually cooks much tastier meals than we would have in a restaurant.  When we do go out, it tends to be for lunch.   In fact, I can't remember the last time we ate out here for dinner.   
     Corta Bella has Kent's favorite restaurant, and I enjoy it, too.  With great views and nice music, it is a wonderful lunch time treat.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Neighbors

          The new neighbors are a family of mice that have taken up residence under our Hesperaloe (red yucca) plant.   We disagree on which species of mouse.   Actually Kent denies that they are mice.  He also says they must go.  Soon.   
          Neither of us has seen the new wildlife, and neither of us knows anything about desert mice or rats.   That doesn't keep us from having an opinion and being certain that our opinion is the correct one.
          Kent says they are pack rats.   I know this is wrong because I saw a pack rat nest at the White Tank Mountains.  It was at the nature center and labeled.   It was larger and much less tidy.
          I think this is the home of cactus mice.   We have golden barrel cacti and a few other species of cactus nearby.    My Pocket Naturalist, Southwestern Desert Life edition, shows 5 local varieties:  Desert Shrew, Kangaroo Rat, House Mouse, White-Throated Woodrat, and Cactus Mouse.     Of the choices, the Desert Shrew grows to a mere 4 inches, which would be acceptable.   The Woodrat, on the other hand, grows to 16 huge inches.   Not so acceptable. 
         The Cactus Mouse is a medium size, 8 inches, light brown or beige in color, with cute ears.   So I am convinced that, if we have to have this variety of neighbors, I want them to be from the Cactus family.  
          The Pocket Naturalist doesn't show Pack Rats or Citrus Rats, two local varieties that I know exist here.  So it is possible that our little friends are something entirely different.   For now, however, I choose to believe they are cactus mice.
Posted by PicasaHere's a closer view of the nest.    Does anyone really know what they are?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Moving On

      I can't believe it has been a month since I posted.  The past few weeks have been filled with moves and changes, which is partially the reason for my absence.   The other reason is my involvement with Second Life, which took on a life of its own in August.
     But since I am here in this reality, I'll only talk about it.   August in Arizona wasn't all that great.  I'm a creature of habit, and I don't take change easily.   And I don't particularly like it when other people make changes that affect me either.  Once I'm in a comfortable rut I like to stay there.   But the universe had other plans.
      The major change involved my mother.   As you know from earlier posts, she turned 95 this year.   For the past five years she has been living in a "Seniors Executive Apartments" called The Waterford.   This seniors-only complex provides lunch and dinner and has a nurse on site during weekdays.   The staff organizes trips and entertainment routinely.  They have a "doctor" bus that takes the residents to medical appointments, too.  It really is a wonderful place, and it was  perfect for Mother when she moved there. 
       At that time she was a young 89, still driving and had her own car.  About the only things she couldn't do were balance her checkbook and keep her medicines straight.   I had taken care of her checkbook for years, mostly because she didn't want to do it.   I didn't mind, and she was happy to be rid of that chore.   When she moved to Waterford, I hired someone to come in daily to make sure she took her pills correctly, which solved that problem.  Since she was able to drive short distances to the grocery, doctor, and little shops, Mother never used their bus system.   When she gave up driving a year or two later, I had to arrange transportation to the doctor because she didn't want to use the bus.   Arranging transportation was getting progressively harder, but I was managing.        
      Then other problems arrived.   The medicine person became unreliable and had to be replaced.   Waterford changed some of its policies.  Mother kept aging, and her memory continued to fail.   Still, she liked it there and didn't want to move.   I did try to get her to move last year but she balked, and I caved.   (I'm beginning to see where my dislike of change comes from....) 
      But where aging is concerned, time never stands still.   
      I had worried about a crisis happening.  That had occurred to many of the elderly parents of friends or acquaintances, and occasionally it was tragic.   When it happened to Mother, it was fortunately not a big crisis.  It didn't incapacitate her, but it was a wake up call to me.   It was plain that she could no longer safely live in a seniors apartment complex.  She was no longer capable of handling even a small emergency on her own.  Ironically, there were at least 3 people hired to do things for her, but none of them noticed the problem or called me about it.   Even more worrisome, although I talk to her by phone routinely, Mother couldn't remember to tell me that something had occurred that needed fixing.   It was clear-- She had to move to a more structured facility. 
                   So here is her new home, The Inn at Renaissance Village.   
     A true assisted living, there are attendants to make sure she not only gets her medicine, but also a shower, clean clothes, and three meals a day.    The adjustment wasn't easy, but she is now enjoying it as much as her limitations allow.  She plays Bingo and visits with people.   The food is delicious.   
     Getting older is no picnic, I'm discovering.  Posts in the future may start to deal with some of these issues.  I'm having a real problem finding information, or correct information, about various issues related to elder care.  And the politicians are truly clueless.  
     But for now, at least, Mother is safe and content.
     The other change that occurred involved a co-worker.  My favorite co-worker left the office to seek fame in the big city.   (No fortunes are there in this economy, but that will come soon.)   He is a bright, young attorney, and it was always fun to watch him discover the law as it IS, not as its taught in law school.  He has a funny sense humor, too, which will carry him a long way.    I miss him, but he keeps in touch and seems to be adjusting very quickly to his new job.  
     So that was August.   
     We did take a quick weekend trip to Prescott at the beginning of the month to celebrate our anniversary and escape the heat.   The weather here has been hot, hot, and hotter.
      Now that we're into September, I'm hoping that nothing changes for a long time.  Except the weather, of course.   

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Monsoon Season

Before I moved to Arizona, I thought monsoons were something that only happened in India and exotic islands.   But here in Arizona, they have their own version of the Monsoon.  

Officially we are in the middle of the season now, although it only just started raining here in Surprise a couple of weeks ago.   For a few weeks we could see the storms building but they never reached us.   Then last week we started getting some rain.   I took these photos on a day when we didn't get much rain, but we did get a beautiful rainbow.

Then Thursday the real thing hit.  I was on the road, driving home from Parker, when the storm hit here.  Luckily it had stopped raining hard by the time I got home.  I drove through a bit of rain near Wickenburg, but nothing dangerous.

On Friday morning I went walking with my friend shortly after dawn.   We saw a number of tree limbs broken and damaged and a few agaves uprooted.   Water filled the retention basin, too.  

All weekend it has been raining, which is really unusual.  Much more common are fast, hard-hitting rains that don't last very long.   Instead of that, we have had a weekend of clouds and slow, soaking rains that are wonderful for the plants.

Our ocotillo loves the rain.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

I'm cheating on this pix--it didn't come from the neighborhood.   I tried to get a picture of our local fireworks, but the neighbor's trees have grown too tall.   When we first bought here, the trees were tiny versions of themselves.  At holiday time we would pull our lawn chairs to the sidewalk and watch the fireworks from the comfort of our front yard.  
Lately we have had to stand to watch, and this year even that didn't work very well.    I could only see the top third of the fireworks over the tree canopy.   Plus someone added a streetlight that is strategically placed to block the best ones.
So this picture actually came from Second Life.   My very good friend Grey Lupindo took it there and sent it to me.  They know how to do fireworks in the metaverse!

Even though the firework watching didn't work out, I was able to meet my neighbor on the sidewalk and catch up.   This time of year in the desert is like the winter in the East.  Everyone tends to do inside activities except in the very early morning and after it cools in the evening.   She had been out  for an evening walk as I was standing on the sidewalk staring at the sky.   It was good to chat and catch up.

We had a very nice Holiday weekend.   There's a new Japanese restaurant, Hayashi, that we checked out with our other friends.   Very different from our usual Mexican or Bar-B-Que picks.  I had some excellent shrimp.  We'll go there again when we get a chance.   

I listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence for my official holiday celebration.  If you haven't looked at it or the Constitution for a while, take a peek.  So often the country seems to be cracking under the weight of the politics.  It's good to remember the foundation.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Quail Corner

   There's a new family in town.  Potentially, at least.   Kent found a nest of Gambel's Quail in the flower pot at the entrance to the courtyard.   This is right below the spot where the house finches nested earlier this year.   A popular spot.  

Gambel's Quail are interesting desert birds and very plentiful here.
They usually travel in a group with a couple of males acting as look-outs for the group.  Although they usually walk and won't fly unless startled, the sentry males will fly to the roof top to get a good look-see.   You have to admire that kind of dedication.

I didn't see as many baby quail as I normally see this year.  Last year we had a batch that nested in the courtyard in a larger flower pot.  They were hatched and gone within a day or two of Memorial Day.   This year that pot was empty.   So now we may be privileged to have some late-nesters.  

I counted 7 eggs today.  Usually they lay about a dozen or so, one egg a day.  Then momma quail sits on the nest for a while.  I'm not sure how long.  Suddenly in one day they all hatch and are almost immediately out running around.  The desert isn't a good place for tasty little creatures to linger too long. Lizards, coyotes, and bigger birds are always on the hunt.   In fact, we have two courtyard lizards that would probably eat the eggs if given half a chance.    

Newly hatched baby quail look like puffballs balanced on matchsticks.   They blend so well into the gravel that I have never been able to get a decent picture of them.   They grow rapidly.  

There was a batch that came to the water feature everyday earlier this spring.  While the chicks were very small, the adults kept them away from the water.   When they were a bit bigger and able to fly they climbed onto the top ledge to sip water that had pooled in the rock crevices.  We only run the water feature once a day, in the afternoon, but there is a trickle of water that flows continually.  That way the wildlife can drink without getting blasted off the water feature by the actual water falls.   Kent just installed this system recently, and the birds love it.

Right now I worry about whether this particular flower pot was a good choice.  It is right by the walkway that we use to come and go from the house.   We have been hunkered down avoiding the heat recently, but we still come and go through there.  Plus Kent walks by it everyday as he waters the plants.  I would think they could have chosen a quieter spot.   I'm concerned that they will abandon the eggs. 

But what do I know?   I have yet to hatch my first batch of quail.  Maybe Momma Quail does know best.  I hope so.  

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Happy Birthday to Me!

     June 29 was my birthday, and it was a very good one.   Since I love ice cream, I wanted a Hot Fudge sundae instead of the traditional cake.   Yummy!    Pizza was on the menu for my birthday dinner, at my request.  
     Three of us at work have birthdays that are close together so we celebrate them all at the same time. We had Kentucky Fried Chicken with all of the trimmings. Thanks, Dorothy! It was great. Most of us don't get KFC very often so it was a super treat.
      My son called me that evening to wish me a Happy Birthday.  It's always great to chat with him.  A few other good friends mailed cards, e-mailed or Facebooked their greetings.   Technology has definitely expanded the ways we can keep in touch.   
      At the end of the day I was thinking about my Mother, who turned 95 in May.   This was my 59th birthday.   If there are any Numerologists out there, let me know if this is a lucky sign.  (If it isn't, you don't need to write.)    
      We have both seen a lot of changes in our lifetime.   More for Mother, of course, but it is amazing to consider all of the new things that have occurred.   Computers would have to top my list.  I got a new one for my birthday, and it is fantastic.   More about it soon.   
      So now I am working toward the big 6-0 milestone next year.   Hmmm.  Maybe for that one I'll splurge on a banana split.           

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pandora - My Find of the Day

 I recently found Pandora, the free internet music service that lets you choose what kind of music you want to hear.   If you haven't tried it yet,  go to   to check it out. 

My selections so far are the Beatles, Cher, and Native American.  Definitely Retiree-wannabe selections.   But they seem to have music for every mood and taste.  So if you're into heavy metal or rap, go for it.   Meanwhile, I will rock with the Oldies or meditate with the Navajo. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

3 Coyote Day

This coyote was behind our water feature a few years ago.

I always start off my weekend with an early morning walk with my friend Chris.  We are both early risers, which helps in the Arizona heat.   Our usual route is to go down a couple of  blocks and walk parallel to the golf course, cross the street and go down a long block to the walking trail.  Then we follow the trail to Mountain View, one of the main streets in Sun City Grand, until we reach a street that goes close to mine, turn and walk back to my house.   The entire route takes us about 45 minutes.

Today we had a special treat--Coyotes!!!   I love the little guys.   Chris spotted them first as they walked in the wash that runs next to the trail.   As soon as one of them spotted us, it ducked under a bush.   The other one ignored us and walked down through the middle of the wash like we weren´t there.   I concentrated so much on him that I lost sight of the other one.   By the time I tried to find him, it was too late.  He was hiding in plain sight among the bushes.

Later that night Kent and I went for a walk along the same trail.  We always wait for the heat of the day to leave, at least as much as it is going to do.  We take off around 7:30ish, while it is still light but fading fast.   By the time we reach the middle of the walking trail it is dark.  

We were at that mid-point mark on the trail when Kent heard a noise behind us.  He turned to see a coyote cross the trail behind us and lay down in the shadows of a bush.   It was too dark to make out where he was exactly, but we knew he had not jumped the little wall that divides the trail from the houses.   We stopped and waited for a few mintues but he never moved from his shadow spot.    He was near the place where I had seen two coyotes earlier in the morning, and I wondered if he was one of them that had hung around all day.   Feasting, I´m sure, on a bunny or two.

The morning coyotes were in great shape.   They were the first ones I have seen here for a while.   I have been hearing them at night, but not seeing any.   So it was great to have a 3 coyote day.

What a great way to start the weekend.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Refreshing Rain

Today was cool and refreshing--a real change from our usual
 hot, hot, hot.
The day started with clouds that kept building and building.  Soon we heard the rumble of thunder.  We thought the rain would miss us since it frequently does.  But today we were lucky.  A breeze came up that was cool and refreshing.   Soon there were large drops of rain on the sidewalk.
The rain didn´t last long, but it was enough to give the plants a quick drink and wash the dust off.
Tonight we were able to light candles and sit on the patio.  We didn´t roast marshmallows or put a fire in the chiminea.  It wasn´t that cool.  But it was nice enough to sit and chat outside.  We plan to keep the windows open tonight, too.  Can´t do that very often this time of year so we are taking advantage of it while we can. 
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Beautiful Ohio

We went back to Ohio recently to visit family, and that includes visiting my grandpuppy Kenu. He´s a beautiful Alaskan Malamute-- 130 pounds of puppy love.
Of course he has beautiful parents, my son and daughter-in-law.

We had a great time at their Memorial Day picnic. In fact, I was enjoying visiting with friends and relatives so much that I failed to take photos.

It was perfect picnic weather--sunny and hot. Later a brief Ohio shower cooled things down but didn´t keep us from going back outside as soon as it passed. We don´t have those here in Arizona this time of the year. We also enjoyed seeing the bright green foilage everywhere. They have had a lot of rain this year, and everything was lush and blooming.

While we were there, we celebrated my mother´s 95th birthday. WoW! Way to go, Mother! This isn´t a milestone that many of us will reach. She had to go to the doctor on her birthday, which was a bummer, but she was a good sport about it. Later we had a small celebration with family, pizza, and chocolate cake. Mother´s memory isn´t good these days, but she enjoyed the moment. Which, when you think about it, is what we all should try to do.

One of my favorite things to do when we go back to Ohio is visit Marco´s Paper. This is the greatest paper (and more) store in the world. If you like any kind of papercrafts, you need to stop in and see them. They are on the web, but I love the store best. There is nothing quite so much fun as looking at all the neat paper, stamps, pens, charms, inks, etc, and dreaming of all the great things that could be made....if only there were more hours in the day. The bane of crafters and writers everywhere is the lack of time. And when the crafter/writer has to be a working stiff too, it is terrible!

So while I was at Marco´s I bought some cover stock to back the rest of my Yellowstone photos, and some album paper that was on sale. Pinecones, ivy and some coordinating colors. The pinecones will be used soon to finish off the Yellowstone album, but the others may go into the paper stash. (You can never have enough paper.) Also found some great cowgirl rubber stamps that were new, must-have items. Then I found some had-to-have ink and a couple of more sale items.... Everytime I go to the store I suggest that they open a store in Arizona. But considering my inability to pass up their bargains, perhaps I couldn´t afford for them to be here!!

We also stopped at the Cox Arboretum for a quick visit one afternoon. This is the Monet Pond, a lovely tranquil spot. There were a couple of weddings that day, too. The turtles were sunning themselves, and birds were singing. Beautiful Ohio.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother´s Day

When I arrived home today, these lovely flowers were waiting for me. What a great surprise! I am very lucky to have such a thoughtful son.

Mother´s Day is such a nice holiday for those of us who have our mothers or who have thoughtful children. I know that this isn´t true for everyone, and I am aware of how lucky and blessed I am to have both in my life.

I was in Tucson this weekend, and I stopped at the San Xavier del Bac Mission this morning. It is such a beautiful, peaceful place. Located on the reservation of the Tohono Oóhdam, the mission was founded in 1692 by Father Kino. Construction of the church took fourteen years, from 1783-1797. In addition to the church itself, there is a wonderful museum and other restored buildings and gardens.

In the parking area some local people were making frybread--yummy!!! Frybread is a Native American treat that is deep fried, similar to Elephant Ears that we used to get at fairs in Ohio. But frybread is more versatile. Some of it is sweet and covered in honey, cinnamon or powered sugar. But they also will fill it with beans or meat. However it is fixed, it is delicious. Today I had mine with cinnamon, and Kent had his with honey.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

House Finches in My House

Last week I noticed a pair of House Finches hanging around the casita courtyard, especially one bush that we have planted in a large pot. Over a few days we noticed that the plant was getting thinner. Then we saw the reason--it was being used as prime building material for a House Finch nest. In this photo their new home peeks out of the end tile, and the happy couple watches me take their picture.

Proud Papa-to-be

The House Finch is one of the most common species here, but being common doesn´t make him any less beautiful.

His Latin name is Carpodacus Mexicanus. Hmmm. Does that mean he is originally from Mexico? Be careful, Carpodacus Mexicanus. Until SB 1070 is tossed out, you better keep your papers close at hand. Sheriff Joe may come after you, too.

Proud Mama-to-be---with a piece of our plant in her mouth.

Our much thinner Australian plant, which is now being put to a higher use.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Agave Sways in the Wind

The octopus agave reached its peak a few days ago.

The bees have enjoyed it for weeks now since as the bottom flowers faded, the top ones opened. The plant is so tall that I can´t get a close-up of the whole plant in one picture.

Here is the top section at its peak:

Last week it was really windy. I watched the agave sway in the wind and hoped it wouldn´t topple over. Fortunately it is fine. The wind was very strong, but all of our plants made it.
On one night, Thursday, I drove through herds of tumbleweeds on my way home from work. At least it seemed like a herd of them. Must have been at least 15-20. The wind blew them across the road in waves. I have never seen so many tumbleweeds at one time. There was no way to avoid hitting a few of them, so I came home with suvenirs in my grill. They looked lovely. Went well with the windshield bug bodies that I collect each night as I drive through Wenden and Aquila this time of the year.

Speaking of wind: The newspaper reported that Joe Arpaio decided to not run for governor. Good news! Maybe he read this blog. !!!smiles!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Joe Arpaio, Retiree-Wannabe

You probably know Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio even if you aren´t from Arizona. He´s been on national TV many times, from 60 Minutes to all points left and right. Sometimes he has appeared as a guest, but more often he is the subject of an expose´. He has dubbed himself the Toughest Sheriff in America. He brags about feeding prisoners on 50 cents a day, houses many of them in Tent City (in Phoenix where the summer temperatures are hot, hot, hot), and makes the men wear pink underwear. In other words, he´s a showboat of the worst sort. The kind of man who feeds his ego at the expense of others. And now he´s thinking of doing it again.

Now he is considering running as Governor of Arizona. Not because he has any experience or background that qualifies him. Not because he has a platform that he thinks will improve Arizona. He is thinking about running because, he says, he loves challeges and he knows he can win.

Sadly, he may be right about that. In many circles he is very popular, in spite of costing Maricopa County millions of dollars in lawsuits, ruining lives, and creating an atmosphere that fosters fear and disrespect for the law.

For the last couple of years the sheriff has directed his officers to go after ordinary workers--gardeners, cooks, domestics--instead of going after criminals wanted on felony warrants. Arpaio has consistently, and with the backing of former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, engaged in racial profiling in order to round up thousands of hard working men and women whose only crime was being non-white and non-English speaking.

Some of the people may not have had documentation that allowed them to be here in the United States under federal immigration law. However, contrary to Arpaio and Thomas´publicity blurbs, being undocumented is NOT a crime. It subjects the person to removal from the country, but it is not a criminal offense.

But that kind of factual information doesn´t make for a splashy headline or a glib 60 second sound bite.

Even worse, the two of them together have targeted political adversaries and used the criminal justice system to arrest and prosecute people who disagreed with them. The latest targets even included judges! The suits have all been dismissed, but not until many of the people were physically arrested and all of them were required to defend themselves against fabricated and flimsy charges.

And now Joe Arpaio wants to be in a position where he can wreck even more havoc on Arizona. Just so he can enjoy a challenge.

Please, Joe--don´t do it. Arizona has enough problems.

Read this blog. Look at all the pretty pictures of Arizona´s flora and fauna. Retirement would be great! I want to be a retiree! You should want to be one, too. Arizona deserves it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Octopus Agaves

The Octopus Agave that we have had for about five years is in full bloom now. There seem to be a lot of them in bloom around Sun City Grand this year. I suspect it has more to do with the amount of water that we received earlier this year than to the age of the plant.

I´ve taken a lot of pictures of it. Soon it will be our only reminder of it and its beauty. Once the agave blooms, it dies.

Some people here in Grand cut off the stalk, apparently in an attempt to save the plant. On a walk recently we saw one on that had been chopped off and left lying in the yard. A very sad sight.

I don´t think cutting off the stalk will do anything except keep the plant from dying a glorious death. The plant was made to grow in the desert until conditions are favorable for its offsping to survive. Usually that means when there is available water. The beautiful spike will shed little agaves, some of which will survive.

This photo was taken a few weeks ago, before the flowers opened. They began opening from the bottom and worked their way up. Here is a close-up taken at the same time.

We nearly lost this agave a few years ago to weevils. Kent spent a lot of time battling them, and we weren´t sure if the plant would make it. Some of the damage can still be seen.
I´m glad it made it. It looks stunning in the center of the mound.
It was inevitable that it was going to die sometime. Now it has been able to go out in all of its glory, the way nature intended, and with the chance of leaving a little of itself behind.
A perfect way to depart this Earth.

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