Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sun Dog

Mum used to tell us that these sky phenomena were called sun dogs. Whether or not that's an accurate name, it's what I've always called these beautiful round rainbows - usually seen in pairs - one on either side of the sun. They seemed to predict a change in the weather - usually cold weather.

Driving from Edmonton to Lethbridge this weekend, Mickey and I spotted this sun dog, and since we're both scrapbookers and neither of us had ever taken a picture of one, we stopped the car on the side of the road and snapped our pictures. Sometimes you just need to do what you need to do.

And the sun dog was true in it's prediction. The weather turned nasty while we were in Lethbridge. Today the 5 hr. trip took us over 6 hours because of wind, blowing snow and icy roads.

In one 115 km stretch of road we counted 25 vehicles in the ditch, some upside-down and others right side up with the drivers still sitting in them. Thanks to Mickey's excellent driving, we made it home just fine.

And yes, winter is still with us, with all it's beauty and ugliness. Surely spring can't be far behind.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I'm sorting through some of last year's pictures. So many of them, especially of the grandkids, express pure emotion. Today's emotion is JOY.





Is there anything more contagious than the smile of a happy child. JOY.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Grandchildren of a Different Sort

I've always been a cat person. From the time I was a baby we always had a cat, and subsequent kittens, in our home. Then I got married - to a man who is allergic to cats, and had children, some of whom were also allergic - so my days of being a cat owner ground to a halt.

Now I get my cat fixes at my daughter's house, where the famous hunter, Mickey, and her lazy pal, Percy, live. I actually have three grand-cats but Emily's Hero lives a sheltered life on the other side of the river and is seldom seen.

Besides the cats, we have two grand-dogs - Chester, the huge bull mastiff who lives in BC, and Bernie, the equally huge St. Bernard who shares a house with us. I love them both - the fierce protector of his territory mastiff and the gentle welcome-to-my-home-stranger Bernard.

Bernie is more than twice this size now but I haven't taken a picture of him recently. He's huge.

Chester bestows his favors on very few men - luckily Lloyd is one of the men he likes.

But he loves his kids and is very protective of them, thank goodness.

Oh, and lets not forget our grand-parakeet who lives an hour down the road with Jenny and her boys. I don't have a picture of him, but he's very interactive and loving in his own way. I love birds and have had several in my post-cat days.
So there they are - our alternate grandchildren. Every kid should have the experience of owning a pet, if only so their grandparents can enjoy them too.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Deja Vu

We're back in the land of the ice and snow after a lovely vacation in Arizona.

While we were down there, I saw a shirt I just had to buy for granddaughter Charlie.

When I saw it, I thought it looked almost exactly like one her mother, Sara, used to wear when she was 8 or 9 years old (Charlie is 7).

I guess it's close enough, although the color in Sara's shirt might be a bit faulty given the age of the picture. It looked cute on Sara and the new version looks cute on Charlie, in my humble opinion.

Sara wanted me to be sure to say that if she had her way when she was a kid, she never would have let me get her hair cut short - and I thought it looked so cute. Sara has cut Charlie's hair once - it's now almost to her waist. It looks messy in the picture because I took the picture after she got home from school and we didn't think to re-comb her hair.

Just a brief observation today...still trying to warm up.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Today is our last full day here in Arizona. We leave tomorrow evening. It was our warmest day so far (85F) so we spent a couple hours relaxing by the pool soaking up some sun. Although we had the pool heater going all day the water was still too cold for swimming (74F). We'll try to sneak in some swimming time tomorrow if the water warms up.

This was my view from my comfortable chair - such white feet!

This little guy was tormenting me. I've been trying for three years now to get a good picture of a hummingbird. This one flitted from our lime tree to the saguaro cactus to the top of the tipu tree while I tried to take his picture. Finally got one while he/she sat still on the very top of the tree.

This is as far as we could go in the water. Once it hit the backs of our knees we wimped out - it was soooo cold. It was pleasant sitting with our feet dangling in the water though.

It's been a lovely week - a pleasant break from the cold and snow that'll be awaiting us as we get off the plane tomorrow night.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Old Town Scotsdale, AZ

Today's adventures took us to Scottsdale - the Old Town part of it - followed by a quick stop at Neimann-Marcus, Nordstrom and Macy's, just to feel like the rich people. From there we drove up to Frank Lloyd Wrights famous desert home. We didn't want to take the tour there so it was hard to get close enough to get any really great pictures. Maybe next time.

The following pictures are from Old Town Scottsdale. It was a beautiful day - cool with a nice breeze so I enjoyed walking the streets. After three weeks here Lloyd has become acclimatized and found it cold when he was out of the sun. Just wait till he heads back to the far north on Sunday!!! Then he'll remember cold!

This was my favorite part of our excursion. I met this Navajo sand painting artist, Wayne Tom, and stopped to talk to him about his work and the history of sand painting. It was quite fascinating. The work is really beautiful. The art of sand painting was originally done by medicine men as a healing ritual. The intricate paintings were large enough for the sick person to lay on. The colored sands were drizzled onto the light sand by the artist in a meaningful pattern. When the picture was finished - often taking more than a day to complete - the sick person was laid on the sand painting while chants were said over him, herbs and potions waved over him, etc. When the ceremony was over the patient would be moved off the painting and the sand would be dumped out, symbolizing the removal from the body of the illness and evil spirits. The ones that artists like Wayne Tom did for sale were done by mixing the colored sand with a bit of glue and actually painting the colored sand onto the background stabilized sand. The one he was making in the picture I took was actual dry sand he was rubbing through his fingers onto the whitish sand to make the picture - very delicate work.

This is art of a different kind outside one of the galleries in Old Town.

The people memorialized in metal here are the founders of Scottsdale - Winfield and Helen Scott. I particularly liked the curved stairway behind them.

This pump organ used to be in the Scott's parlor...such a pretty piece of furniture/music.

The Scottsdale Historical Museum is housed in the old brick schoolhouse, built by Winfield Scott. It's the first brick building to be built in Scottsdale.

An old lady in Old Town Square ;)

I saw these glass cubes in the window of a glass gallery. They were incredibly beautiful the way they caught the light. The gallery was closing next week so everything was 50% off, but items like this one were still in the $500 range. We didn't buy anything there!

I loved these old wagon wheel benches that were positioned along the streets.

My partner in crime, travelling companion, chauffeur, and sidekick. We've had such fun together this week. Next month we'll be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary, but that's a blog for another time.

Happy days!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Desert Gardens

Today's adventure took us to the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. It was a beautiful place to spend a couple of hours walking the trails and admiring the desert plants. We both loved it - the day wasn't too warm so the walking was pleasant.

The first thing we saw upon entering the grounds (admission was free today for some reason) were these magnificent glass sculptures of desert plants.

There were four or five different 'loops' to follow. There were lots of very large, very old Saguaro cacti there, where they've been growing for a hundred years or more. This one below has a curious deformity of one of its arms.

This next one Lloyd declared to be 'the perfect Saguaro' - two arms symmetrically placed on the trunk of the plant, standing upright like a true Taco Bell cactus, or is it Taco Time...I can never remember which is which.

These next ones aren't Saguaros but just look at how tall they are. They totally dwarf Lloyd.

And we rested along the route - Lloyd against the bridge rail...

...and me on a conveniently located bench.

This tall stick tree has red blossoms way up on top.

And here we are having fun together.

This mountain was in a lot of my pictures. Its one of the Papago Buttes and is very curious looking, riddled with large holes.

There were half a dozen welded metal sculptures in the gardens, all painted bright primary colors.

This was part of the boulder garden.

This next one is a close up of the Papago Butte shown before.

And the mountain in the background here is Camelback Mountain

This beautiful spot was an actual desert oasis.

We didn't notice until the pictures were downloaded that this rock looks like a buffalo or calf head reclining. Can you see it? There's a small cactus just above his eye, in front of his ear.

And that's just a few of my pictures from the Desert Botanical Garden. I'll definitely be going back there again, hopefully when the cacti are in bloom.

It was a lovely way to spend a day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rambling Around Arizona

Lloyd and I drove to Cave Creek today to see what we could see. We didn't go into the town where I've been told there's unique shops and restaurants. Instead we went to the hiking trails.

Those of you who know me well can stop laughing right now!

I actually enjoy climbing and walking - it's not my fault my weight and arthritic knees make this a less doable activity these days. I quite enjoyed the short hike we took - my face got flushed and my breathing was labored, but it felt good when I stopped.

The mountains around Phoenix are so different from the Rockies we're used to in Alberta...beautiful in their own way. Here are some pictures:

The intrepid hikers...

The trail we took...

Two saguaros chatting...

A saguaro family on the trail...

The vista from the trail...

The trail ahead...

One of the beautiful huge houses perched halfway up the mountain...

The picture in my header is of an eantrance to a subdivision in Vistancia, off the Happy Valley Road, not far from Carefree Highway. Love the names!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winter Relief

I managed to escape winter in Alberta for a week or so, arriving at Sky Harbour Airport in Phoenix at 7:00 last night. Lloyd was here to meet me, having spent all week at a work-related retreat and the previous week at a golf tournament. It seemed like he was gone forever. Now we'll just rest and relax and enjoy some alone time.

My first item of business down here is always to do a walkabout in the yard, checking on how the fruit trees, cactus and palms are doing. Sara and Quincey had been here for a couple weeks in January and Quincey bought a few more items for the yard...items like this....

We love the saguaro cactus and now we have 3 of our own. This guy is the largest, and the only one old enough to have sprouted an arm. I'm not sure how long the braces have to remain in place. It'll sure look better when they're removed.

A looking-up view...

And a view from the street to put him in perspective.

This is our second new saguaro and the new joshua tree in the back yard.

This toothpick cactus was one of the first ones we planted two years ago. It has more than doubled its size in those two years.

It's 51F here today (15C) and feels lovely and cool - no wind, no rain, no snow. I didn't even need a jacket when we went out. A nice change from home.