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…

Summer Bucket List

It is here, the last full week of school. We will have two hormonally challenged individuals spending the entire summer together. I can hardly bear the thought of it.

Keeping small child entertained all summer is no picnic. Left on his own he would spend all his time in front of a screen. Even though he is eleven it is not enough to simply tell him to turn the computer/tv off and go find something else to do. Believe me, I have tried that. Mostly he just lounges around complaining that he is bored, ignoring any suggestions I make.

I want him to do things he enjoys besides video games and cartoons. I want him to explore his creative side and get some exercise. I want him to have a good summer.

All year I have been jotting down ideas. The hard part is most of these things will have to be done together which could be good or bad. Kind of depends on how hormonally challenged we are feeling on any given day. The hope is we each get an hour or so for ourselves in the morning and a second hour in the afternoon.

The big goals are not to let one or two bad days derail the whole idea, be flexible, and once in awhile shake things up and go have an unplanned adventure. (Every summer I plan all these get out of the house ideas and every summer the heat or monsoons press us back indoors. So adventures this summer will be spontaneous because if we think about it we won’t go!)

I have decided the first day of summer vacation we will go to lunch at our favorite ice cream place (they serve food too) and discuss plans. And then we can head over to the new Hobby Lobby (conveniently located in the same plaza) and maybe find a project or two.

Here are some ideas of hopefully fun things to do:

  • Swimming. We have a pool and once I get him in the pool he loves it. Last year he made a lot of excuses to not go in which was really annoying. This year he won’t have a choice. For Easter I bought a bunch of pool toys to help tempt him into the water.
  • Book Club. We do make it to the library on a regular basis and we can easily find YA books we both enjoy. I thought it would be fun to read a book at the same time and then discuss it. Maybe have a themed lunch that day to go along with the book.
  • Cooking. My son has shown an interest in cooking and baking. Every once in awhile I’ll let him plan a meal/dessert, shop for it, and prepare it. A great way to practice so many skills.
  • Christmas. I am going to get a craft kit or two and we can have craft time for a few weeks. He can make Christmas presents for relatives. So much easier to do it now than when he is juggling school and sports.
  • Take an on-line class together. The local community college participates in ed2go. ‘Drawing for Absolute Beginners’ seems perfect for us.
  • Movie nights. It is getting harder to find movies we all enjoy (and haven’t already seen), but not impossible. Popcorn helps.
  • Skee ball. Skee ball is hands down our favorite arcade game and we got a small version for Christmas. Playing tournaments with innovative prizes will be fun for all.
  • Board games. We have a ton of games and go in spurts playing them. I have a secret goal of playing each one at least once!
  • Sketchbooks. I like the idea of doing something creative together, but not too structured. The Sketchbook Project seems like a good idea and it is pretty cool to think of our work going on a tour and then being kept in an art library. I ordered a book for each of us and splurged on the digital addition. There was a 20% off code when I ordered which made the price a little easier. This should pair well with our on-line drawing class. Hopefully after the class he will be more confident in his skills and it will be cool to have before and after sketches for both of us.

This year our vacation is near the middle of the summer break which is nice. We are going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon which we are very excited about. This will help divide the summer into two halves, the first being what I think of as swim season. Very hot and dry and then the second half which may be the rainy season. (Monsoons are pretty unpredictable.) But it will be good to have inside plans because rain or heat are both unpleasant to be out in.

Also, right after vacation I am having my hysterectomy. They do it robotically so it is not the big deal it used to be. But I will still have one to two weeks with limited lifting, bending and twisting. And no swimming for four to six weeks, a killer!

I am hoping small child will be helpful those first few recovery days. I suspect I am kidding myself. A more realistic prediction is that while Mom is knocked out on pain killers he will be grabbing all the computer time he can!

I can make all the plans in the world but really, I have no idea how the summer is going to go. Fond memories? Or a nightmare best forgotten? I am assuming no matter what we will both survive. No one has ever actually died from hormonal teenagers or menopausal moms, right? RIGHT?

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…

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!


Photo Friday: Snow!

In a highly unusual turn of weather we have been getting snow here in Tucson. And not just in the mountains but here “in the valley” as they say. And not just once but twice already! And yet the pollen count is still high. This place really is crazy. These photos are from New Year’s Day.

My lemon tree is covered with a blanket for the next few nights. Hope my lemons make it, they look so good this year!
The orange tree has been left to fend for itself.  The oranges are quite thick skinned so I think they will be okay.

This is what we woke up to New Year’s Day!

I loved the gray and white day, it made the Christmas lights so sparkly!

And then on Wed (the 2nd) it started snowing around 9:30 a.m. Little teeny tiny flakes. It was too warm and wet for them to stick but they came down for more than 2 hours! My son and I went for a long walk and it was wonderful!

Wednesday, January 2nd.

Keep Your Focus!

Photo Friday (It Smells Like Roses)

I know I have posted photos of the rose garden at Reid Park before, but the bushes are just so beautiful I always take more photos every visit.  Thanksgiving weekend was the annual arts and crafts festival.  The festival was a bit of a disappointment as the two vendors we specifically went there for were not there this year!  But we caught the tail end of a blooming cycle in the rose garden so it was worth the trip.  Enjoy!

Keep Your Focus!