Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Good Time Was Had By All

My grandchildren (and granddog) enjoy some Christmas fun. We had a wonderful time, with good food (fried ham, eggs and waffles for breakfast, then baked ham with the trimmings for dinner).

We didn't have any snow, of course, but we did enjoy a beautiful fire in the "fireplace." Santa was very generous, especially for the little ones.

Now the mess is cleaned up, for the most part, and another batch of happy Christmas memories are safely stored away. Can't wait for next year!

Till next time,

Sunday, December 18, 2011


It took awhile, but I finally got 'er done (with a little help). Please ignore the less-than-stellar photos! This is what my tree looks like almost every year. I've had most of the ornaments for years and there's no particular color scheme or theme. This year I added the vertical beads - just wish I had more of them.

I know a lot of people put their Christmas tree up right after Thanksgiving, but when I was growing up the tree went up a week before Christmas and came down a week after. Now I'll add a week at the beginning. I prefer a real tree, Douglas fir from Oregon if possible, and I don't want it to dry out too much before the big day.

On New Year's Day I will follow childhood tradition and take the tree down while watching the Rose Parade.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Till next time,

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Hopeful Sign

I was waiting to pick up my granddaughter from school when Mother Nature obligingly presented this dramatic sky shot to me. I only had my iPhone, but I think it did a pretty good job!

I'm sharing at Skywatch Friday. Stop by to see some really great photos from all over the world.

Till next time,

Friday, December 2, 2011

Atlanta Sunset

Back to Atlanta one more time. This photo was taken from the same viewpoint as last week's, the 52nd floor of the Westin Peachtree hotel in downtown Atlanta, just as the sun was sinking on the horizon. I had a great time there and also managed to visit nearby Roswell, where many historic homes were decorated for a Christmas tour. Photos to come later.

I'm linking to Skywatch Friday, which features fantastic photos from around the world.

Till next time,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Light Up the Zoo!

Nearly everything at the Phoenix Zoo is covered in lights.

It's time for the annual SRP ZooLights celebration at the Phoenix Zoo, a great holiday outing for out-of-town guests and Phoenicians alike. The event is fun for kids of all ages.

Many animals are featured both stationary and animated light displays.

The zoo is decked out in more than three million colored lights and 600 lighted displays, including a 3-D praying mantis and lion. The 160-foot polar slide is back for the second year. Another big hit is the music-in-motion dancing tree show. It's definitely worth seeing (and hearing).

ZooLights is open daily, 6-10 p.m., through Jan. 8. For tickets and more information, click here.

I'm linking to:


Till next time,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey, What Turkey?

Three of my grandchildren are engrossed by cellphone games as they wait for Thanksgiving dinner to be announced.
I am happy to report (belatedly) that I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My son James and his wife Aubrie hosted dinner for 20 people from both families and we all did justice to the feast.

We had the traditional turkey as well as ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, Jello salad, broccoli salad, candied yams, cranberry sauce and homemade crescent rolls (awesome, Aubrie!), followed by pumpkin and blueberry pies with real whipped cream.

When were able, we waddled away from the table to help with clean-up or just to visit. We all headed home with plenty of leftovers.

I hope your holiday was also full of family, food and fun. Now I can officially think about Christmas!

Till next time,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sail Along, Silvery Moon

View from the 52nd floor of the Westin Peachtree Plaza on a brilliant winter's eve.
I was so thrilled to be able to visit Atlanta. As a fan of Gone with the Wind since the age of 8, I experienced a literary thrill from staying at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. On Peachtree Street! Five Points! Aunt Pitty-Pat's house! Lawsy, Miss Scarlett!

My company was kind enough to book me into the 73-story hotel that defines Atlanta's skyline. My room was on the 52nd floor — the highest room I've ever been in — and one with incredible views such as this moonlit night looking west. Note the lighted Christmas tree near the lower right corner.

I'm linking to Skywatch Friday. Click here to see fantastic photos from around the world.

Till next time,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sailors Take Warning

Point aux Barques Lighthouse
The Point aux Barques (Port of Little Boats) Lighthouse is one of the ten oldest lighthouses in Michigan. There has been a lighthouse on the site since 1847. The original lighthouse keepers' house burned to the ground in 1849. The house and the tower were completely rebuilt in 1857 and survive to this day.

The lighthouse is located in Lighthouse County Park, north of Port Hope on the shores of Lake Huron. It is an active light, manned by the U.S. Coast Guard to keep boats away from a shallow reef that extends two miles into the lake.

I'm linking to:

Outdoor Wednesday logo

Till next time,

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

Most people might wear a sombrero somewhat differently, but my youngest grandson has his own fashion style. And who's to say that his viewpoint isn't the right one? There's obviously something in there that piques his interest!

Grandchildren. I highly recommend them!

I'm linking to:
Smiling Sally

Until next time,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Day

Proud Swabby

On this Veterans Day I'm honoring my very own vets. Shown above is my late husband, who served in the Navy during peacetime and became a radar technician.

 At left is my dad, who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

He had some horrible experiences in the Pacific, and there was one incident he would never talk about.

He would begin to tell a young man who fell overboard. My dad was the strongest swimmer aboard, so he was strapped into a life vest and sent over the side in a rescue attempt. The attempt failed, due to darkness and heavy seas. My father would always start to cry when he got to this point, even fifty years later, so we never knew who the young man was or how he fell off the ship. My dad could hear him calling for help, and that haunted him all his life.

However, my dad had million funny stories about his adventures as well and he seldom repeated himself.

This is my dad's brother, Uncle Harry. He got to know me (it is said that I took my first steps to him), but I never knew him.

He was killed during a training accident in England when his P-51 fell apart in the air. He is buried in a military cemetery in Tulsa, where his wife lived.

My dad had two brothers. He called the youngest by name, but Harry was always referred to as "my brother."

I had two other uncles who served in World War II. My Uncle Johnny was a sailor in the Pacific. Shell-shock was his souvenir for a job well done. My Uncle Harold (who married my dad's sister)  had the worst job of all. He was a tail-gunner. He told of men crying before they went up because they knew their chances of coming back were very slim. He made it, however.

Because I come from a family of veterans, I felt compelled to adopt some Marines during Vietnam. I didn't like the way returning vets were being treated by protesters, so I wrote to a squadron to let them know someone cared. All of my boys came home alive, but one had the misfortune to step on a mine and loose a foot.

We sometimes forget what veterans do for us. If you need a wake-up call, watch "Saving Private Ryan." When I saw it in the theater, I came home and cried. I can't watch it again, but I think everyone should see it once. You'll ask yourself, how can a man send other men to war, and how the men can go.

Thank you, vets, past and present, for your sacrifice.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's ...a COW??

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Skywatch: Worth Waking For

I'm usually awake when the sun comes up, but I seldom peek out my door so early in the day. I'm glad I did on this particular day or I would have missed this dramatic sunrise. This shot is straight out of camera, no enhancements needed except those provided by Mother Nature.

I'm linking to Skywatch Friday, where you'll find beautiful photos from around the world.

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Got a Rock

I felt like Charlie Brown in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” getting rocks in my trick-or-treat bag instead of candy.
My first rock came when my interweb donned a ghost costume and disappeared into cyberspace. Oh, the horror! My (land line) phone’s screen read “R.I.P” at the same time. Spooky!
Fortunately I have a cell phone, without which I would have been doomed. I was able to get the phone company’s number from my son, only to be disconnected after half an hour of “please press this” and “please press that.” (Another rock.) So I went through it all over again and was finally able to start a repair ticket. The repair was supposed be done yesterday, but it didn’t get done until today. (Another rock.)
What I learned from this experience is how very much I depend on the Internet. I couldn’t read or send an e-mail. I couldn’t write a blog or read all the blogs I follow. I couldn’t check my bank balance or pay my bills. My granddaughter desperately needed a bus schedule, but I couldn’t access one for her. I couldn’t check movie times or play Jewel Quest (not life-threatening, but still...). I needed to pay my home insurance and locate property tax information. No can do.
What if I hadn’t had a cell phone? I would have no way of getting the phone company’s number unless I found a neighbor whose Internet was working or who at least had a phone book, something I no longer keep. I think I may make an exception when the next one arrives – just in case.
I think I’ll also write down all the phone numbers I need and keep the list in my desk. I’ll keep an electronic copy on my computer and my cell phone. Of course, a smart person would have done this already, but that’s beside the point, right? Maybe next year I’ll get candy.
Until next time,

Saturday, October 29, 2011


In honor of the impending Halloween festivities, I present this cute little munchkin in her first Halloween costume.

She'll be Snow White this year, but I love this fluffy bunny outfit. Notice the matching pacifier!

I'm linking to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.

Until next time,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Skywatch: You Don't See That Every Day

You never know what you'll see along I-40 between Arizona and Oklahoma. This blimp caught me by surprise as it was out in the middle of nowhere - but it must have been on its way somewhere, right? The other-worldly (unedited) color is courtesy of my tinted windshield. (My son was driving.)

I'm linking to Skywatch Friday, where you'll find beautiful photos from around the world. Check it out!

Until next time,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Perfect Perch

TV antennas are becoming quite rare in some parts of the country. This one is no longer in use, but it provides a perfect place for mourning doves to share the news of their day.

I'm linking to Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer.

Until next time,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Skywatch: Texture on Texture

Desert foliage stands in stark contrast to a cloud-obscuring buttermilk sky. This photo was taken along Cave Creek Road north of Phoenix.

See great sky photos from all around the world at Skywatch Friday.

Until next time,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Great Place to Relax

A gull catches some rays on the shore of Lake Huron.
I got to see a lot of Michigan on my business trips because I had a great boss who let me expense a rental car on weekends. On one memorable trip, when September was at its peak, I was able to venture to the "Top of The Thumb" of Michigan's mitten shape.

Port Austin is marked in red at the "Top of the Thumb."
What a great trip! The weather was perfect and the scenery was gorgeous. I had never seen one of the Great Lakes before, so I was very impressed with Lake Huron. The drive to Port Austin hugs the lake much of the time, which my desert soul found very refreshing.

I hope to go back some day and complete the drive all around the state. What fun that would be!

For those of you who may wonder where I've been, I've had a new health problem to play with, involving heart rate and thyroid. I won't bore you with the details, but it leaves me very weak and tired. It should be resolved fairly soon, I hope, and I hope to do better with my blogging.

I'm linking to Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer.

Outdoor Wednesday: Click on the picture below to learn more...

Until next time,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Skywatch: A New Day Dawns in Detroit

The unmistakable skyline of Detroit, aka Motor City, aka Motown, is silhouetted by the rising sun. I captured this view of the GM Renaissance Center from my hotel room during a business trip.Detroit is a wonderful city and I hope to visit it again as a tourist.

I'm linking to Skywatch Friday. Stop by and see some amazing photos from all over the world.

Until next time,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Land of Contrasts

A sandstone butte provides a back drop for desert plants at Papago Park. Pictured in the foreground are, from left, saguaro cactus, ocotillo, barrel cactus, and cholla.
Papago Park is one of the most unique parks in the country. Located in Phoenix and neighboring Tempe, the park contains unique sandstone buttes that could be from an alien world. Erosion has been forming their pock-marked surface for millions of years.

How many parks can claim that they housed thousands of German prisoners of war during World War II? Or that they were the finish line for the"The Amazing Race" in its fourth season?  Or that they contain a pyramid-shaped tomb? At Papago, the tomb is the resting place of the first Arizona governor.

Papago Park is also home to the Phoenix Zoo, the Desert Botanical Garden (where I took the above photo), the Hall of Flame honoring firefighters, and Papago Golf Course. There are also miles of hiking trails, plenty of places to picnic, and lakes where you can fish.

Papago Park is a perfect fall destination, whether you live in the Valley of the Sun or just stop by for a visit.

I'm linking to Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer.

Until next time,

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Lone Kidney

The kidney my son bought to replace the one I lost.
There I was, living my life, minding my own business, with no idea that something was going on inside my body.
The first clue was when I saw a surgeon about some elective surgery I was considering (no, not a “job” of any kind). I was floored when he said he couldn’t operate because my GFR was only 37. OK, what the heck is a GFR and what does 37 mean?
Gross Filtration Rate means, in simple terms, how well kidneys are processing what they receive. A good GFR is above 60. Well, 37 didn’t quite cut it.
So I go trotting off to my GP, who does more lab work and finds that my GFR is now 47. We’ll keep an eye on it, she says. Clueless, I say OK and go on about my business.
My GFR fluctuates, once reaching 57 (woo hoo), then falling again. Doc says I’d better see a kidney specialist. This turns out to be a really good idea. For one thing, he looks a lot like Kevin Costner, but the main thing is, he orders an ultrasound.
The results didn’t look too good, he says, let’s have a CT scan as well. Okey-dokey, says me. Well, lookee here, says the CT scan. I do believe you have a tumor of some sort on your right kidney, and it’s huge! Whoa! What?! Time to see a kidney surgeon. Uh….do I have to? Yep.
The surgeon is really nice and wastes no time, which is kind of scary. No need to determine whether the tumor is benign or otherwise, it’s got to come out and the kidney will probably have to go. Wow!
I have another dozen tests, two of which are nuclear, meaning I am injected with radioactive dye. But I don’t glow in the dark, which I thought would be cool. I see a heart specialist, a lung specialist, and an oncologist. (The tests found “something” on my right lung and just above my knee, but the oncologist isn’t worried.)
The big day arrives and I get prepped for surgery. I remember meeting the anesthesiologist and nothing more until I woke up in my hospital room minus a kidney. The surgeon found two tumors on top of my poor little kidney and they were cancerous. He was confident that he had removed everything that needed removing and later tests proved him right.
Six months later the only reminders of my adventure are a ginormous scar and the cute toy kidney my son James gave me for my birthday, in case I ever need a spare.  How very lucky I am!

Till next time,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Everything's Coming Up Rosy

One of my favorite gemstones is rose quartz. This beautiful mineral is just one of several varieties of quartz, which is the second-most abundant mineral on earth (feldspar is first, if you were wondering).
Pure quartz is translucent and colorless, while other varieties such as rose quartz, amethyst and citrine get their color from traces of other minerals within their crystal structure. Mineralogists are still debating over which minerals give rose quartz its pink hue. Possible contenders include titanium, manganese and iron.
I really don’t care where the color comes from; I just think it’s pretty.
My parents gave me my first piece of rose quartz jewelry, the silver bracelet below, on my 21st birthday. I picked it out at Ed’s House of Gems in Portland, Oregon. That was many moons ago. Much, much later my dad bought the rose quartz pendant and gold chain for me from a museum gift shop.
Not only do I love these pieces because of the rose quartz but because of the memories they evoke.
I’m linking to Pink Saturday. C’mon over!

Till next time,