Saturday, April 27, 2013


Today I Am...

1.  Listening - with my windows wide open I hear the sounds of distant traffic, far-away voices, a few birds, all blended into a peaceful background music.

2.  Eating - Oikos Greek Yogurt, coconut mini-breakfast

3.  Drinking - Pepsi Max - my guilty pleasure

4.  Wearing - Black dress pants, turquoise blouse with black and white embroidery, an owl necklace, and turquoise Nike walking shoes.

5.  Feeling - Well rested, peaceful, calm, happy, looking forward to lunch with two daughters and their families.

6.  Weather - finally spring has come to Edmonton.  It's a beautiful day, lots of white clouds in the blue sky, a light breeze.  I've got my windows open to let in the air, smells and sounds of a lovely day.

7.  Wanting - nothing to spoil the peace of this day.

8.  Needing - more scrapbook adhesive so I can finish my scrapbook of my latest trip to Arizona.

9.  Thinking - about my family and friends and how blessed I've been to have such a great group of people in my life.

10.  Enjoying - this empty-nester stage of my life with the freedom to come and go as I please, yet with children and grandchildren close at hand when I need a 'kid fix'.

11. Anticipating - in the coming month, a trip to BC with Lloyd, Emily and Allan to watch Mary and Greg participate in a 50 km race and Layla and Emily run a 10 km.  In the middle of May a trip to Winnipeg with three daughters, one daughter-in-law, and one son-in-law, to visit my sister and mother, combined with birthday celebrations for my mother (92), my sister and daughter Emily.  Also, looking forward to my 65th birthday in May - a milestone to be celebrated.

I hope you're all having a pleasant weekend too.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Corpse Flower

Following my last post on desert plants, I have one to report right here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  We have a famous conservatory here, The Muttart.  Last August it obtained a Corpse Plant - the only one in Canada.  This week, on Earth Day,  April 22, it bloomed.

It grew to a height of 7'4".  It's claim to fame is the awful smell the blossom has - like a decomposing animal. Luckily it blooms very infrequently.

You can check it out at the  Muttart Conservatory website.

There were huge lineups at the Muttart. So many people wanted to see this rare smelly plant and it only blooms for two days because it takes so much of the plant's energy to produce a blossom.

Mickey went with her son and two grandsons to see the plant.  Her little grandson loves to have his picture taken (good thing, with a grandmother like Mickey ;)) so was pleased to have his picture taken with it.

(used with permission)
Check out the website to learn more about the Amorphophallus Titanum (Corpse Plant).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Flowering Desert

The main reason Mickey and I chose mid-April for our trip to Arizona this year is because we heard that April is when the cactus bloom.  I think Arizona had a later than usual spring too this year because it appears we were a couple of weeks too early to see any blossoms on the Saguaro.  However, there were many more to make us happy.

I was told by the nursery man who sold us this cactus several years ago that it's called Argentine Giant. It appears to be a very fast growing cactus and seems to like it's space just outside our pool gate. This is the first year it has bloomed.  When we first arrived in Surprise on April 10, it looked like this:

You can just see the buds on the large stem.
By  the 17th, it looked like this:

The buds are much larger
And by the time we left on the 19th, in spite of us talking to it every day trying to encourage it to open all the way before we had to leave, it looked like this:

Beautiful buds just ready to open
 We were very frustrated with it because we so wanted to see the flowers open.  My daughter, Sara, and her family went down to Surprise the day after Mickey and I came home, and wouldn't you know it, the blossoms were fully opened. She sent me a picture via phone but I can't for the life of me download it to the computer so I can't post it here.  The flowers, surprisingly, are not red, but white, and large.

In our front yard, we have a bottle brush tree which was in full bloom with beautiful red blossoms in the shape of bottle brushes.

A close-up of one of the blossoms alongside a branch ready to bloom.

Mickey up close and personal getting the best shots possible of the bottle brush.

At the side of the house we have a spreading prickly pear variety of cactus.  It is just loaded with buds, some of which opened up for us before we left.

The flowers are remarkably fragile looking with ultra thin petals.  Both yellow and orange blossoms grew on the same plant.

Beside the bottle brush bush we have a desert morning glory.  This would take up the whole yard if we didn't have it trimmed back regularly.

The pristine white flowers close up every evening and open with the sun in the morning.

We were almost too late to see this one.  It grows at the back of our pool.  I forget the name of it.  The flowers look like giant versions of lily-of-the-valley.  They were past their prime when we arrived but still looked beautiful.

And this one is at the tip top of one of the branches of the ocatillo (stick tree).  It grew quite a bit more while we were there, extending to about six inches of red blossom at the tips of the branches.  When we got this tree it looked like a bunch of sticks bundled together and it stayed that way for a year before it leafed out and started blooming.  It's quite beautiful and attracts the hummingbirds.

We have a couple of these bushes in the back yard.  I don't know what they're called either but they get filled with bright orange blossoms.

This is the tip top of one of our huge saguaros.  Those little knobs up there are the buds.  Someday I'll be there when they're open.  They'll be beautiful white flowers crowning the top of the cactus.

 This is our front yard saguaro.  No blossoms here but doesn't it lok like it has a face and is waving at us!  We have a couple of woodpeckers nesting in those holes at the top.

I don't know what these trees are either, but they're everywhere and so bright and cheerful.

It was very windy when we took these pictures so you can't see the details of the flowers.

So that was our little spot on the flowering desert.  It's really a very beautiful place to be in April.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It's a Graaaand Canyon!

It has long been Mickey's dream to see the Grand Canyon, so we set out on the 8 hour round trip the other day.  It was a steady (almost) uphill drive - up one mountain, down into a valley, up another mountain, down into a vallet, etc.  At the top we had gained about 6000 feet in elevation from our starting point in the Valley of the Sun.  And in doing so dropped about 25 degrees of heat.  We had to stop at a visitor's gift store and buy hoodies to keep from freezing.  It was quite an adventure.

Our First View of the Canyon

Mickey - so excited she finally got to the Grand Canyon

I was excited too

Mickey was very nervous of being too close to the edge of the canyon.  She took
this picture of me because it might be the last picture taken of me before
I went over the edge.

There were some very interesting looking windswept trees in the Canyon.

People kept offering to take pictures of us together.  And we took theirs
in return.

That's the Colorado River way down there
 That's just a few of our pictures.  It's hard to get a sense of the sheer size of the Grand Canyon from these pictures.  It is a truly amazing place.  I'm so glad we took the time to go there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fun, Food and Frustration

First the BFF Mickey and I have been in Arizona for four days and in that time our internet has  been out. We have a call in to our IT guy but he has yet to respond.

So we're sitting now in Freddy's 60's style diner with great 60's music in the background, using our iPads to connect to the internet.

Which leads to the food part do this post.  Mickey and I have a habit of taking pictures of our food and we've taken plenty of those on this little holiday.

Our most notable food experience so far was the Phoenix Street Feast on Saturday. It was an amazing event.  A large section of downtown Phoenix was blocked off and tables were set up in a half-mile line down the middle of the street for several blocks,  and dressed with white linen tablecloths, lovely placemats and centrepieces.

The feast was provided by dozens of local street food trucks.  The one that drew us to the event was the announcement that the Maine Lobster Lady would be there with her famous lobster rolls.  Heaven on earth!

Thank you Main Lobster Lady

This shows some of the food trucks lined up, and only a small portion of the tables.
I became a huge fan of lobster rolls while living in Nova Scotia years ago, and living out west lobster rolls are hard to find.  Good ones anyway.  The Maine Lobster Lady is a lobster roll genius. I have never seen a lobster roll so jam packed with pure lobster meat - no imitation stuff here! And no scrimping either!  How I'd love to have another one right now!  But that was the Maine Lobster Lady's last day in Phoenix, so I just have my memories of the experience.

Just look at all that lobster packed into that roll.

Mickey likes lobster rolls too, served with fresh blueberry lemonade. Yum!

And for dessert, creme brulee from a gourmet cook.

And Mickey had fry bread with fresh berries and cream.
In spite of the heat, we loved our day in downtown Phoenix, and returned to our home in Surprise stuffed and sunburned.

I could do another whole blog just on the food we've been eating...and maybe I will.  Now that the internet seems to be working I'll have to do another blog later, just to catch up.  We head back to Canada on Friday.

Eat well!