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,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Skywatch: Sunset on the Nile

Minarets stand out against the background of the setting sun. This photo was taken from the deck of a river cruiser somewhere between Luxor and Aswan.
A few years ago I had the great good fortune to join a tour of Egypt and Jordan. One of the many highlights of the trip was sailing the Nile River from Luxor to the great dam at Aswan. It was an experience I'll never forget and this photo is one of my favorite reminders. It could have been taken anywhere, except for the unique silhouettes of the minarets, from which the beautiful Muslim call to prayer is sounded five times each day. I'll share more of my adventure in future posts.

Join me on Skywatch Friday and see great photos from around the world.

Until next time,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Still Standing Tall and Proud

The Washington Monument looking west across the National Mall from the U.S. Capitol grounds. The Smithsonian "castle" is on the left.
The Washington Monument is still standing in the nation's capital city, despite being damaged by an August earthquake.

Engineers have found some cracks on the exterior at the very top of the monument (the pyramidion), but the interior was deemed to be undamaged and in no danger of collapse. One of the engineers assessing the damage got an unexpected thrill ride when winds lifted him 30 feet from the structure and blew him from one side to another. The inspection is expected to continue until Oct. 14.

When George Washington resigned his commission in 1783, the Continental Congress passed a resolution to build a monument in his honor. Resolving and doing weren't quite the same thing, though. A design for the new federal city with a monument at its center was approved in 1791, but the Washington National Monument Society didn't accept the monument's design until 1836.

Robert Mills' design featured an obelisk surrounded by a pantheon of the Founding Fathers. Made primarily of marble and granite, the 555-plus-foot high monument is said to be the world's tallest stone structure and the world's tallest true obelisk.

Moving at the speed of government, the cornerstone of the monument was laid twelve years later (1848), but was not completed for another thirty-six years (1884)! (You'd think they were building a freeway in Phoenix!)

In spite of all the delays in its construction, the monument is an inspiring sight and I think our first Prez would find it worthy, cracks and all.

Till next time,

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


Monday, October 3, 2011

10 on Tuesday: The Top 10 of the American Film Institute

The American Film Institute honors film's past, present and future. It is dedicated to the restoration of films from 1893 to the present as well as to the education of future film-makers.

AFI is known for its "100 Years 100 Movies" listing of the greatest movies of all time, selected by a panel of 1,500 film insiders. I'm not going to have you scroll through 100 movie titles, but let's look at the top 10 and see if you agree. I'll throw in my opinion for free!

1. Citizen Kane, 1941

Best movie of all time? Are you kidding me? I have never known what the fuss is all about. I've seen it once and that was enough. I wouldn't put it in my Top 100, let alone Number 1. 

2. The Godfather, 1972

Good acting, I'll grant you, but this movie (or any Mafia movie) just ain't my thing, capiche?

3. Casablanca, 1943

Now you're talking! I've seen this film so many times, I can provide all the dialog. And what great dialog it is!Definitely on my Top 10.

4. Raging Bull, 1980

DeNiro is OK, and sometimes better than OK, but this film just never interested me. I've never seen it, so I can't really judge if it's great or not.

5. Singin' in the Rain, 1952

This film is kinda cute, features  perky Debbie Reynolds, great dancing by Gene Kelly and better dancing by Donald O'Connor, but...not my Top 100 material.

6. Gone with the Wind, 1939

OK, I'll admit I'm prejudiced. I have loved this movie since I first saw it and I've seen it a couple of times over the years. Definitely in my Top 10, Top 5 probably.

7. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962 

There's more to this film than Peter O'Toole's gorgeous blue eyes; great cast, interesting story, and scenery that won't quit. Pretty nice score, too. Maybe not in my Top 10, but definitely in my Top 20.

8. Schindler's List, 1993

This film will break your heart. Brilliant cast, horrifying story, happy ending for some, thanks to Herr Schindler. Ralph Fiennes' character makes Lord Voldemort look like a choir boy. Not on any of my lists because I couldn't bear to watch it again.

9.  Vertigo, 1958

Seriously? It's Hitchcock, of course, but not his best. Jimmy Stewart too, and not his best either. Didn't do a thing for me, but Kim Novak is pretty.

10. The Wizard of Oz, 1939

Great movie, even after all these years. Great little life lesson hiding behind Munchkins and witches, and flying monkeys and good pals (in black and white and color). It makes my Top 100.

I'm linking to

Till next time

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Back in the Day

My little pony

I was four or five years old when this photo was taken. At this time itinerant photographers went door-to-door trying to sell parents on cute pictures of their kids. Ponies were very popular "props." The photographer provided the hat and chaps so each youngster would feel like a real cowboy or cowgirl, thus guaranteeing a big smile. As you can see, it worked! For the pony, not so much.

Till next time,