May Madness: Mum (And Photo Friday!)

As in chrysanthemum, not a British Mom!

In the four seasons world every fall I would put a mum and a pumpkin somewhere near my front door. And every spring I would throw the long dead mum away.

The first year I lived here in the desert southwest I continued the tradition only to have javelinas munch my chrysanthemum down to nothing and roll my pumpkin down the street until they broke it open and then ate it. We watched them do it. I was very sad.

I bought a second chrysanthemum and sadder but wiser put it safely in the backyard. And eight years later I still have the same plant! It blooms two or three times a year.

Look at all those buds!

In the heat of the summer I keep it fully in the shade and in September I pop it back into the morning sun. During the winter it gets full sun. If there is a freeze I tuck it under the patio and drape a towel over it.

Once it blooms I leave the dead stalks until the new growth underneath gets well established. I figure the stalks provide some protection from the sun in the summer and the cold in the winter.

I have been watching my plant for a few weeks now, waiting for a nice amount of blooms to open for a photo Friday shoot.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Mission

My mission today was to do a photo Friday post. I have been taking an on-line nature photography course and picking up some great tips. And this morning serendipity struck! I found a spider (I believe a Wolf Spider) trapped in my dog’s food dish. And we have had two javelinas foraging through the neighborhood the last few mornings.

Javelinas can be dangerous so I try and keep my distance. I saw them up the street when I was returning from school drop off this morning. I planned on washing my car, taking advantage of a cloudy morning. Just in case I grabbed my camera and put my zoom lens on. Sure enough, a few minutes later they came down the street and went into the wash next to my house. Another neighbor came out with his son to look at them, from safely across the street.

I went to the middle of the yard and snapped a few quick pics. And then one of them heard the shutter clicking and I slowly backed away. (But not too slowly!) As they worked their way down the wash I was able to go in my backyard and take their picture from behind the safety of our 5′ cinderblock fence.

Wolf spider, did he think they were real flowers in the bowl?
Don’t call me pig! Javelinas are actually related to the elephant family.

Til tomorrow…

Good Things Thursday: Travel Edition (And an early Photo Friday post!)

Our spring break trip to Santa fe was pretty low key. In truth we slept a lot. My son was in a growth spurt, spouse had a cold and I was my normal hormonally unstable self. We went to bed early and got up late most days. Halfway through the trip I realized I was okay with a trip that involved a lot of resting, especially since I had been to Santa Fe before. I thought about all the traveling and wonderful adventures I have had in the past and how it would make a great “Good Things” travel edition list. And then I decided it really need a few photos and it was so hard to narrow down so it is also like a Photo Friday post. So here we go:

  • I have been to 48 of our 50 states. Only North Dakota and Mississippi left.
  • Countries: Canada, South Korea, Oman, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, England, Egypt and of course the United States. ( I decided not to count airports in Ireland, Spain and Japan.)
Saudia Arabia, 2002

  • I have eaten lobster and blueberry pie in Maine, she-crab soup in Baltimore, deep dish pizza in Chicago and steaks cooked over an open wood fire in the south of France.
  • I have been white water rafting, sky diving and zip lining.
Hard to believe I am free-falling in this shot!

From my first trip to Santa Fe, 1997.
  • I drove the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park one fourth of July weekend. In a convertible with the top down and the heat on no less.
  • I have seen Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Yosemite National Park and “Old Faithful” erupt at Yellowstone.
Mt. Rushmore, 1995
  • Let’s not forget the sequoias and giant redwood trees in California
  • I’ve dipped a toe in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Lake Ontario.
This would be the Pacific Ocean
  • I have been to professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey games and a few Nascar races.
  • I have been to a Broadway show in NYC (Rent).
  • I have ridden the Polar Express to the “North Pole”.
  • I have strolled through the Tate Modern in London, the Georgia O’Keefe museum in Santa Fe, the recreated home of Zane Grey and the CM Russell museum in Great Falls.
  • I have ridden the rides at Disney Land, Disney World, Worlds of Fun (Kansas City) and Hershey Park.
Disney Land for my birthday, 2015
  • I spent Christmas in England one year.
  • I’ve ridden Amtrak from Chicago to Tucson.
  • I have been to the DMZ (de-militarized zone) between North and South Korea (Panmunjom) and even into some of the tunnels dug during the war. (Those guys were short!)
  • I have seen the pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt.
The Sphinx seems kind of tiny next to the Pyramids.
  • I have been to the site of the western most battle of the Civil War, Picacho Peak, AZ.
I had no idea the Civil War was fought this far west!

This list is not all inclusive, more of a highlights reel. I still have a few places I want to visit and things I want to do. But I will save that for another post.

Keep your focus!

Santa Fe (Photo Friday)

For Spring Break most people go looking for warmth after a long, cold winter. Not me of course. I go looking for one last blast of cool before settling into a desert summer. This year we went to Santa Fe and it was chilly and sometimes sunny and sometimes spritzy with rain. I loved it.

I don’t think a giant metal dog needs any words!

Veteran’s cemetery.
if you looked in the other direction there was blue sky
During our hike slightly up in the mountains we had thunder, sunshine and light snow, at one point all at the same time! Crazy wonderful.

It was a very laid back vacation with not much planned but we did go see Meow-Wolf. I have to say it was quite the unique experience and despite the crowds I am glad we went.

From the much hyped Meow-Wolf
Meow – Wolf
Meow -Wolf

Keep your focus!

Snow at Sabino Canyon (Photo Friday)

I promised pictures of desert snow and I have some. Because it was snowing so much I took my little point and shoot camera. Sadly I had battery issues so the video I took didn’t save. But I did get some pictures. (And yes, I ordered a new battery this week.)

Is it just me or do these cacti seem to be trying to huddle together?
The mountains were hidden all day.
Poor shivery cactus!

Sabino Canyon looked so wonderfully different in the snow.
It was like walking in a snowglobe when we headed out.  Big, wet flakes.

I have to confess I was really surprised at how much snow we got and how long it lasted. And it was wonderful. (Of course it is easy for me to say that since it is now in the 70’s!)

Keep your focus!

Preparing for the Storm (Photo Friday)

I am a weather geek so living in southern Arizona is rather boring. Ninety percent of the weather is hot and sunny. We do have winter and summer monsoon seasons but they have been pretty tame most years since I have lived here. This winter we have actually been having winter. Well, as wintry as it can get here. But still, it is exciting to have a reason to watch the weather channel. And be able to wear my sweaters.

My son was off from school Wed thru Friday this week. We had planned on going camping at Madera Canyon but changed our minds when we saw cold and rain and snow in the forecast. Tuesday night we had a hard freeze, temps down in the twenties. So Tuesday is when the ‘inclement weather’ work began.

I picked all the lemons and a few oranges on Tuesday.

We left the lemon tree all covered up as it is supposed to be below freezing again Friday night.

On Wednesday my son and I took advantage of the sunny day and went to the library. Books and UNO are hunkering down requirements.

Thursday morning I got up in great anticipation of a foul weather day. An 80% chance of rain, wind gusts up to 40mph. I continued to work preparing to hunker down.

First order of business was to make cookies. In case the power goes out. (The power has never gone out here, but still, one wants to be prepared.) Oatmeal cookies so they are suitable for breakfast if required.

Oatmeal Gorp cookies. These have dark chocolate chips, dried cherries, toasted pecans and toffee bits.
I dug out my flannel granny nightgown.  I haven’t worn this in years!

Now it is 4:00p on Thursday. It is finally beginning to rain! And there is wind spattering the rain against the window. (See picture at the top.) I just want to sit here and stare out the window! (And that is exactly what I am going to do after I set this post up for publishing in the morning.)

Raindrops are falling on my patio!

The plan is to post photos next Friday of whatever weather we get tomorrow (today for you).

Keep your focus!

Photo Friday (Sabino Canyon)

One of my new things is to ask myself in the morning, “what would make me happy today?” and then try and do it. One overcast day last week I really wanted to go take some photos at Sabino Canyon. So after dropping small child off at school I ate my low carb breakfast and went for a walk. I cannot tell you how good it felt to do something simply because it made me happy.

You can just see the snow on the Rincon Mountains.
I walked up to that small building first.

Water in the river!  How odd it is that I get so excited about the river having water in it?
Another river shot.
My artsy atmospheric shot.  You can see snow all the way down South to the Santa Rita Mountains.  On a clear day you can see Mexico (the Sierra Madras I believe).

Keep your focus!

Photo Friday: More Snow

We got more than a foot of snow in the nearby mountains the first week of January and as luck would have it our 11th day of Christmas tag read: “go find some snow.” So on January 4th I took my son and his friend up the mountain. I knew it would be crazy crowded and told them the first parking spot we saw above the snow line we were taking. We ended up at around 6000′ with a good 8″ of snow on the ground.

My son and his friend went sledding, made a snowman and had a snowball fight. We took a break for hot chocolate and cookies and once I heard complaints of cold feet we headed home. We got really lucky going when we did as at the bottom of the mountain the Sheriff’s Dept was stopping cars from going up until more cars came down as they had run out of parking! I read the wait was up to 25 minutes.

While the kids played in the snow I walked around taking random photos.

No re-touching, that is how blue the sky was.

We only had one saucer but another family loaned one of their’s and pointed out the sled run they had packed down.  So nice of them!

Such a fun day!

Keep your focus!