Monday, June 23, 2014

Once I returned from my trip back east, I left again on a family summer trip to Northern Arizona.  Steve, Shawna and I packed up my new van with fans and suitcases and 4 grand-kids and headed west and north on I-17.  Our first stop was the old mining town of Jerome, Az.  Much like Bisbee, Jerome is built on the side of a mountain with the mine at the bottom and panoramic views facing east.  We walked through the quaint old town, bought the kids ice cream and then toured the mansion of the owner of the Daisy Mine.  It was an 8,700 square foot house built in the early 1900s.  All the materials for the mansion were native to Arizona and the owner only spent $150,000 to build it.  Of course, that was a lot of money in those days!  But a house that size would cost millions these days.

Our second stop was our motel in Camp Verde, AZ.  We had dinner at a local barbeque place.  The food and company were excellent.  We were glad we passed up Denny's and Burger King that night.  We passed the "Out of Africa Wildlife Park"  on the way to the motel.  It was our destination for the following day.  So we knew just where to go the next morning.  The motel had complimentary breakfast which included omelets with cheese, yogurt, toast and donuts, and cereals. We let the kids chow down, slathered them with sunscreen and headed for the park.  It is a privately owned wildlife park.  Some of the animals, especially some of the tigers, were rescues.  I was a little apprehensive in the beginning, sometimes places like this can be a little disappointing to say the least.  However, this park was terrific!  There was a bus ride through parts of the park where animals roamed relatively free.  The kids were all given a piece of celery to feed only the giraffe or the camel.  The bus was high and had open sides so it was easy for the animals to reach in and the kids to move around and reach out.  Everyone had a chance to feed and touch the giraffe.  I heard someone comment that this experience alone was worth the cost of admission.  Besides the giraffe, we saw zebra, different kids of antelopes, including one endangered species, huge African cattle, an ostrich, a camel and mountain goats.  All of the animals were closer to us than in any regular zoo we have been to, only the sides of the bus separated us.

After the bus ride, we walked the rest of the park to see lions and tigers and bears! OH MY! LOL!  We also saw timber wolves, baby tigers, one white which was my favorite, and a rhino, a real one, not the political variety.  The kids also got to touch a huge lizard, a boa constrictor and a young cavie, a giant rodent.  We had lunch right next to one of the tiger cages and then we went to the tiger splash arena.  Three trainers got into this arena with a pool and proceeded to play, yes, play, with a huge Bengal tiger.  The tiger was not trained to do tricks or anything like that.  He was only raised and accustomed to the three people with him, two men and one woman.  They took turns dragging big plastic pool toys for the tiger to chase and attack.  They got him to leap into the pool a couple of times and to leap high up the side of the arena to grab the toy.  They would give him treats of raw chicken and beef to reward him and so he would allow them to retrieve the toy from them.  At one point the tiger decided he wanted to check out the young women who was narrating the show for us.  She got very still and very quiet as we watched the tiger approach her.  The young men called out to the tiger and swung one of those big pool toys in the air.  The tiger decided he wanted to play some more and the woman resumed her narrative.  Just a little drama there!  Amazing!

I must not forget the finally at the park.  They had a huge zipline setup.  You could spend two hours riding from one zipline tower to the next over the whole park and flying over all the animals.  Steve, Shawna, Jake and Dan decided they wanted to try it.  They only wanted to do a part of it, the final quarter mile from the center of the park to the entrance.  It cost $25 a piece.  Steve paid and they all climbed the impossibly high tower and put on a bunch of gear including helmets.  Logan and Eden and I walked down the hill to where they would end up so we could watch them arrive.  The wind was blowing all day.  It was about 3 in the afternoon now, when the wind is at its worst in Arizona.  I would say it was blowing about 50 mph at this point.  The ziplines were moving back and forth.  Several people came down the line and then I heard over one of the attendants' walkie-talkies, "Sending Shawna and Jake down now."  We could hear a whirring sound as they slid down the lines.  Then they were swing above us and then, thump, thump, they landed on the platform above us.  Steve and Dan did not come.  We saw them returning in one of the zipline buses.  Shawna and Jake walked down the steps to our level and then we all walked down the rest of the steps to meet Steve and Dan and see what happened.  Steve said Dan's knees were shaking so badly that he almost could not stand up, his face turned pale and he said, "I'm not doing it!"  Steve could not leave him to return in the bus with the attendants when he was so scared so he stayed with him and they rode back together.  Yeah right!  We know they both chickened out!  But you didn't see me up there!  Ha!  I can't imagine!  Shawna said her knees were still shaking so bad even after she came down that she could hardly walk.  Steve says, "Next year!"

We returned to our motel to swim and recover from our exciting day.  The next morning we headed north again.  Our first stop, not too far from Camp Verde was Montezuma's Castle.  Montezuma did not really have anything to do with it but the name stuck anyway.  It was another fascinating historical site.  No one really knows what happened to the people who built the castle.  After that we continued north a little further to Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument.  The wind was blowing again.  We stopped to walk along one of the park hiking trails.  The wind whipped up particles of volcanic ash that stung our legs and pushed us along the path.  We could see right across the road, the highest peak in Arizona, Humphrey's Peak at 12633 feet in elevation.  Awesome!

Next stop was the Meteor Crater along I-40 East toward Holbrook.  We were shocked at the development and the cost to get in to see the crater.  Wow!  $18 per adult and $9 each for the kids! Steve really wanted to see it though so we paid and took the elevator 3 stories up to the edge of the crater.  It is where part of the movie "Star Man" was filmed.  Maybe part of "Thor" too but I'm not sure about that.  The wind was terrible once again.  We walked across a little bridge and I could feel my feet being lifted.  Steve grabbed both little kids and held on to them.  Eden was screaming that she was being blown away! The railing did not seem adequate to keep the two little ones from going over the edge.  Eden and I stayed at the top and returned to the inside of the building.  Steve and brave little Logan, Shawna and the older boys walked down a level to a platform that hung out over the crater.  Later when we were paying for post cards at the gift shop, the proprietor said the wind speed was up to 78 mph!  Incredible!  

On the road again, the plan was to spend two nights in Holbrook.  We had a room at the Days Inn with a pool.  We were looking forward to cooling off and getting out of the wind.  The pool was indoors, hallelujah, and close to our rooms.  We had Mexican food for dinner across the street.  Next morning we were off to the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.  We stopped and hiked around at Rainbow Forest entrance, got some more post cards and whatever else the kids could finagle out of us, then we drove into the park.  The views of the desert are spectacular.  We also had a large crow seem to follow us from vista to vista.  We stopped for a picnic lunch and gave the crow a few gold fish crackers.  That's a big NO NO.  Taking any rocks or souvenirs from the park was also strictly prohibited.  They had signs posted with a $350 fine attached to taking anything or even walking off the established trails. We made sure the kids behaved by promising no more post cards!  

Back in Holbrook, we took Steve and the kids to the motel so they could swim.  Shawna and I decided to go check out the local shops.  I got a Navajo Pot and we found a really cool rock shop.  We also found the best Steak House in town.  We decided to take Steve there for his birthday dinner and then take everyone back to the rock shop.  At the rock shop they had about an acre of any kind of rock you could think of plus all kinds of real fossils and petrified wood tables.  The tables were polished wood, of course.  They were absolutely gorgeous and the one I wanted cost, are you ready for this?  $12,000!  And that was a cheap one!  Steve got himself a nice chunk of petrified wood to bring home for our coffee table.  They kids all got a piece of black shiny obsidian or some other rock they liked.  In the morning we started back south toward home through Show Low and Globe and home to Tucson.  It is a good thing we got home on a Thursday afternoon cuz we all needed a long weekend to recover from our exciting adventure.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I feel as if I have been away and I am just trying to re-orient myself into my normal life again.  In truth, I did go away and just returned on Wednesday June 4.  

My brother, Rick, arrived for a visit on May 23 or there about.  We thought we would visit the local sites, Tombstone, Bisbee, etc.  On the day Rick arrived I got a call from our other brother, Tom.  He said that our Mom may have had a heart attack and was in the hospital.  So, instead of visiting local tourist traps, Rick and I loaded up his car and headed to the east coast to visit our mom and siblings there.

We drove over 2000 miles in 5 days.  We arrived at our sister's place on Thursday May 29.  We met with all of our siblings that day.  It was good to see them all and find out about our mom's condition.  It turns out that she only had to spend one night in the hospital.  She may have had a heart attack but the doctors were not certain.  Because she has Alzheimer's and no short term memory, her condition is difficult to assess.  

Our sister, Shirley, invited us to stay for dinner.  She made a delicious pork roast with country fried potatoes. It was really great after eating at restaurants for days!  

The next day, Shirley took us to visit Mom.  We were not supposed to take pictures but I snuck one anyway.  Mom remembered who I was.  She smiled and waved as soon as she saw us.  It was nearly lunch time though so we did not stay very long.  It would have been difficult to stay as we were constantly being approached by other Alzheimer's patients.  Maybe I will write another blog about that.

While we were in Delaware, we also visited our father's grave site at the Veteran's Cemetery there.  Mom will join Dad there eventually.  Then we visited with our sister Patty.  She has 2 beautiful Thoroughbred horses that she wanted to share with us.  One of them is a young horse that Patty rescued when she was 500 pounds underweight.  Patty was riding her first horse, who was also rescued from a race track and constant pregnancies.  They are beautiful horses now and slightly spoiled, although Patty has done an excellent job retraining them to be saddle horses.  

We were not able to stay in the hotel any longer as they were booked for the weekend with Nascar and other activities going on.  So, having done all that we came for, Rick and I packed up the car again and headed back to Arizona.  On the way back we visited the Tall Grass Prairie, a Nature Conservancy site in northern Oklahoma, and the Pioneer Womens' Museum, also in Oklahoma.  Seeing huge buffalo running free on the open prairie was totally awesome.  Later on, traveling through the great empty expanses of Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, I wondered why, with all that space, our ancestors really saw the need to exterminate all the buffalo and all the Native Americans.  The space goes on and on, almost like the ocean, an ocean of land.  It is awesome and totally intimidating.

Upon returning to Arizona, Rick and I did visit Tombstone and Bisbee.  Then Rick resumed his 2 day journey back to Oklahoma.  I really appreciate the time Rick took to travel back east with me.  I really did not want to fly or go by myself.  Thanks so much, Rick!

There were many interesting places to see and visit on our trek across country.  I'm sure a body could spend a lifetime and a fortune just stopping at well known sites, not to mention all the odd and fascinating "local" spots.  I have posted some pictures of places we just passed through.  Our country is "America the Beautiful"  from sea to shining sea!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Showers bring May flowers, or so the saying goes.  We did not have much rain in April.  We had a few drops on the wedding day, April 5, and then last Saturday we had some, but it was more bluster than rain.  The swallows have returned along with the hummers.  The ocotillos and the prickly pears are blooming and my garden has been planted.  I moved all my house plants outdoors and, since we have had almost no rain, I am watering the garden and plants every day.  I love mornings around here and watering plants and feeding animals is a ritual that I enjoy.  This is about the best time of the year here in southern Arizona.  The heat is not yet upon us and the winter has passed.

Steve built a more permanent cover for my raised garden.  It will keep the bed from completely drying out from the sun and also protect the new sprouts.  We have had so many covers blow away because of the almost constant strong winds here on our hill.  With the new one, Steve used wood to support the cover and also reinforced the cloth cover itself with small wooden beams above and below the permeable cloth so rain can get in and lots of light.  Hopefully it will protect the plants from the worst of the sun and not blow away this year.  I planted two rows each of spinach, romaine lettuce, radishes, jalapenos peppers, chard, zucchini and yellow squash.  I also bought 4 tomato plants, 2 cherry tomatoes and 2 striped regular size tomatoes.  I don't want too many tomatoes this year.  My grand-kids helped plant peppers, squash and radishes.  Some of theirs are coming up already.

Spring is shearing time again too.  The alpacas were separated from their heavy fleece over the Easter weekend.  Our neighbors at Cienega Creek Farm made it easy for us this year.  They came and loaded up the boys in their van and transported them to their shearing barn.  The alpacas were sheared, had vaccinations and their teeth and toenails trimmed.  Then they were returned to us, skinny new creatures!  Thanks so much to Melissa at Cienega Creek!

I am very pleased with my African Violets and orchids right now too.  They are blooming profusely and are gorgeous!

Along with planting, Spring seems to be time for cleaning and purging.  I have been busy doing that too.  I cleaned up all the clutter in my library.  New books were organized and shelved.  Magazines were pulled and purged or donated to a local doctor's office.  All the year's filing was caught up.  My lap top has a new clutter free place to sit and wait for inspiration to strike.  I also managed to get rid of old stuff my kids have stored in my sewing room for almost a decade!  It is hard to believe but we have been here for a decade!  Now I have a closet for all my extra fabric and sewing stuff.  Next I suppose I will have to go through all that fabric and see what projects can be finished and what new ones can be started.  When one gets old, it is nice to slow down, but one can never really stop!  We must have something to work on and to look forward too.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The new year is getting older and perhaps my hiatus from writing should come to an end.  I am not promising anything as far as how often I will write or what I plan to write about, only that I need to start writing again.

We had a momentus family event over the weekend and I wanted to post pictures for anyone who might be interested and for those who are anxiously awaiting said pics.  Our #2 daughter married her soul mate over the weekend and it was a joyous beautiful event.  Planning the wedding began the day they announced their engagement, eight months ago, and took many peoples' ideas, skills and work to bring to fruition.

The announcement:

                            Sara Ann Hedin
                             Trevor Royce Teague
                          cordially invite you to share
                                  in their happiness
                           as they unite in marriage

                             Saturday, April 5, 2014 
                            at Three in the afternoon 
                    at Kartchner Caverns State Park

     Reception to follow at Tombstone American Legion

About 60 people, family members and friends, attended the wedding at the Caverns.  It was held outside in the amphitheater, a fabulous natural venue, where we were surrounded by Arizona's great outdoors.  The weather cooperated with gentle breezes, fluffy clouds and just one small sprinkle of rain, adding good luck to the couple's traditional marriage vows.

The bride was attended by her sister, Shawna, as the matron of honor, her sister, Sandy, her good friend, Cassie, and her new stepdaughter, LeeAnn. Six year old niece, Eden, scattered rose petals down the aisle.

The groom also had three attendants. His twin brother, Travis, stood up as his Best Man, along with his uncle, Clyde, and his friend, Jim. Logan, Sara's six year old son, carried the rings on a purple and lace pillow.

Sara's Dad, Steve, escorted her and gave her into the hands of the pastor and her new husband. The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes and then about an hour was spent taking pictures by a professional photographer before everyone traveled to Tombstone for food and fun.

The Tombstone Legion Hall was decorated with cream tablecloths topped with lavender and burlap table runners.  There were rustic pails filled with white and lavender roses and carnations adorning each table along with candles and favor boxes filled with candy for the guests. A buffet was set up for all to enjoy.  Barbequed beef and pork, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans and rolls made up the tasty menu.  

The Bride's cake had 3 layers of lemon cake with blueberry cream filling.  The Groom's cake was a rich dark chocolate.  The party lasted well passed 9 pm.  Then many guests visited the saloons in Tombstone or retired to local hotels.

The bride and groom will be taking their honeymoon trip in May to Alaska aboard one of Norwegian Cruise Lines elegant ships.

I would like to thank everyone who helped celebrate this wonderful occasion.  I also especially thank those who helped plan and make this wedding a great success.  It is up to the couple to make the marriage successful and I have no doubt, that with the Lord's help, it will be!  Congratulations and all the best to Sara and Trevor!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  I decided to wish you the best before this year instead of telling you what a great time we had after.  The picture is last year's table setting.  I'm sure this year's will be about the same.

We had our first real winter storm over the weekend.  It rained and rained.  It got cold but the frost did not come until this morning.  There is a sprinkling of snow on the very tip top of the mountains behind us.  The Whetstones seem to have missed out as they are not so tall.  The weatherperson said snow would only get down to about 7,000 ft.  

Willy completed his puppy class at Petsmart and got his graduation certificate.  He did ok but the dog is still a pup, just 6 months old, so he still needs lots of training and discipline.  He is scheduled to be relieved of his cajones on Dec. 4th.  I expect he will be a little easier to handle after that.

Buddy did a brave but very dangerous thing.  One morning about 2 Sundays ago, Buddy was going crazy barking and trying to get out of the yard, so I let him out.  He tore down to the bottom of our hill where there is a wash.  I could hear a horrible screaming, squealing noise.  It was truly horrible but I could not quite figure out what it was.  I saw Buddy's white shape down among the trees  and I could see that he was shaking something violently, a gray shape.  That was the source of the noise.  I figured Buddy finally caught one of the coyotes I often see and he was killing it.  Buddy returned to the yard after a time.  He seemed to be unscathed but had a smear of blood on his face.  Later that day, the men and grands took a walk down to the wash.  They found a dead javelina!  I was surprised as we have not seen javelina in the area until recently.  The one Buddy killed was only about half grown, not a full sized pig.  I am thankful for that because Buddy could have been seriously injured by a full sized pig or if a herd had ganged up on him.  I hope if there are more they will move on so that my big brave guardian dog will not feel that he has to kill another one.

I have been getting ready for Thanksgiving and finally gathered all the goodies for that.  I found sweet Hawaiian dinner rolls at Safeway this morning which completes the menu.  All the other goodies, the turkey, pies, veggies, etc. are either in the frig or being prepared by someone else.

I have also managed to complete my Christmas shopping before "Black Friday"!  Woohoo!  I hate going shopping after Thanksgiving!  So, all I have to do is wrap gifts and decorate the house.  I haven't decided if I will go green and gold this year, or silver and blue, or traditional red and green. I guess I will decide after I drag all the trinkets out.  I completed a dress for my one and only granddaughter to wear to her Christmas program at school this year.  I was very pleased with the result.  Now that I know the pattern, I plan on using it for her flower girl dress for our #2 daughter's wedding in April.

We have been having some fabulous Arizona sunsets lately too.  Enjoy, and may you have a filling and happy Turkey Day!  Don't forget it is THANKSGIVING DAY too!

Monday, November 4, 2013

I am loving the weather lately.  Cool, almost cold mornings, and warm afternoons full of blue sky and puffy white clouds.  Arizona continues to amaze and delight me.  I love it here.

Halloween has come and gone.  We enjoyed carving jack-o-lanterns, dressing up as zombies, ninjas and other creatures of the imagination, eating lots of candy and going to the grandkids' costume parades. 

We have been visited by a few wild creatures lately. A hawk landed on a stump in the west side pasture.  He took his time eating a critter he caught for breakfast and I was able to get a good picture of him. Then another morning, I saw 4 coyotes on the hill behind us.  They are serenading us at night, making the cats very nervous and the dogs especially watchful.  One of the wily creatures passed right by my chicken pen this morning.  Buddy was going ballistic which prompted me to go out and get a fleeting glimpse of him.  It pays to be aware and respond to Buddy's different barking signals.  Friday evening he was going crazy and wouldn't stop so I went out and discovered a nice sized rattler.  I hollered for my husband, who came out armed and dangerous.  Buddy followed my orders and left the snake alone, saving himself from getting bit.  Great dog!  It was the third snake we had to kill this year and I was surprised that there was one still out this late in the season.  We just always have to be cautious.  I was thankful that Willy had already gone to bed for the night.  He would've gotten bit as he is still a pup and does not yet follow orders so well, not to mention his bulldog heart, which propels him forward like a bull.  He would've gone right up and grabbed that snake and tried to shake it to death. He is learning and doing well in his puppy class at Petsmart on Saturdays.  He always seems so big to me, as he is still growing, but as you can see in the picture with Buddy, he is just a medium size.

Steve and I decided to take advantage of the great weather and a free Sunday and took a drive over to the eastern side of our state.  We left our house about 1130 and headed east on the I-10.  We took the exit to Dragoon and crossed over to Hwy.191.  At that junction, we turned south and stopped at Cochise Stronghold.  We took a short nature hike there and ate a light lunch.  It is beautiful there but it was still early so we decided to drive further south on 191 until we came to SR 181 going east again.  It is a beautiful drive through a flat plain punctuated by "sky Islands".  That is mountains popping up in the middle of the grassland.  We drove to Chiricahua National Monument, which is about 35 southeast of Wilcox, AZ.  WOW!  We were awestruck!  I did not know such a spectacular place was practically in our backyard!  There was a road through the monument that took us to a place called Massai Point.  It was like being on top of the world!  We could see all the way back to Cochise Stronghold in AZ, across to New Mexico further east and well into Mexico on the southern side.  I also discovered that the area was once volcanic and that a volcano blew its top there much like Crater Lake's Mt. Mazama in Oregon.  There are also great rock formations caused by the basin and range geological phenomenon.  We enjoyed it tremendously and hope to take the grandkids there soon.

I have many sewing projects going and am in the middle of Christmas shopping which I hope to get done before Thanksgiving!  Willy has two more puppy classes and then he will have to go through the right of passage of getting fixed.  I am not looking forward to that, but I think it will be better for everyone in the long run. 'Til next time...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The sky is crystal clear and blue.  The hot humid days of the monsoon have finally passed.  Mornings have been in the fifties or low sixty degrees.  This is the time of the year I love best in Arizona.  The days still get into the nineties but no more triple digit days! 

The summer was filled with doctor appointments.  I felt that I should get a "Well Woman"  check up because I hit my 6th decade yesterday.  So I had eye check ups and new glasses, dentist check-ups and a new crown on one of my molars, a mammogram and my first dreaded colonoscopy.  The big "C" was not as bad as I expected.  The cleansing part was not so fun but the procedure itself was painless.  I had a great doctor and she gave me all the pictures and removed 2 polyps.  She said I am fine, no cancer and to come back in 3 years.  The mammogram also turned out clean so, at glorious 60 years old, I have a clean bill of health.  I feel pretty good about that.  Now if I could just lose about 30 pounds! 

I started trying out a vegetarian diet after all my check-ups were completed.  I have been pretty amazed about it.  I thought I would miss meat and not be able to live without it.  I have discovered just the opposite!  I do not miss meat and I am not any more hungry than when I was eating meat.  The astonishing thing is that I actually feel better, have more energy and feel lighter, even if I am not!  I used to have a lot of pain in my knees and one of them was swollen all the time and bigger than the other knee.  Lately, I have noticed that my knees hurt less and the swelling has gone down so much that both knees are about the same now. 

I am back to working out on my tread-climber machine every day and working out with weights about 2 days a week.  I have lost about 5 pounds since I started.  Of course, the weight thing is still frustrating.  It always seems to be two steps forward, one step back.  I weigh myself every day.  That seems to be less frustrating for me because I see the fluctuations daily.  When I only weighed myself once a week, I got very frustrated because, if I gained, it seemed like a whole week had been wasted.  Weighing myself every day shows me that I gain or lose every day.  Often I can look back and say,"Ah-Ha!"  I ate too many chips yesterday!", or "Wow! Sticking to veggies really makes a difference!"  I only lost 2 pounds when I was doing my fast and cleanse for the colonoscopy.  So eating nothing and starving myself does not really work either.  Eating veggies and no meat does seem to work.  My mantra has become "No wheat, no white, no meat!" 

The chickens are giving us about half a dozen eggs a day now.  I don't eat them but Steve does and I give many away to family and friends.  I also cook some up for the dogs every day.

Willy has had all his shots now.  He and Buddy were also tested for heartworms.   They are both clear and have been put on preventative meds.  We had lots of rain this summer and, therefore, lots of mosquitoes.  Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it was worth it to me to pay the vet and get the protection they needed to stay healthy.

I recently made some pillows and a fall table runner for one of my girls.  I have purchased fabric to make some new muumuus for myself.  We have a new Hobby Lobby store in Tucson now.  And much to my surprise, a Hobby Lobby also opened up in Sierra Vista.  Also, Sierra Vista got a new JoAnn's Fabric store, which I have yet to visit.  I am excited that I can go to Sierra Vista now instead of having to go to Tucson all the time.

On a sad note, my mother-in-law, Betty Hedin, passed away on Sept 28th.  She had been battling colon cancer for about 2 years. She was 83 years old.  We were told that if she had had a colonoscopy when she was 70, she probably would have avoided this cancer altogether.  That was a powerful incentive to me and the rest of the family to have the procedure done.  We will all miss Betty.  She was a cheerful, positive person who gave generously to others.  We are thankful that her pain and suffering have come to an end and one day we will all meet a gain in Heaven.