Friday, January 30, 2015

Documenting the Cristates!

This first crested saguaro I snapped in December 2013 over at The Desert Museum on the west side of town.

The ordinary/regular/run-of-the-mill saguaros have tips that look like the side arms of the above photo. Last winter I found this one out near Colossal Cave here in Vail.

The rest of the photos come from the 2014-2015 season. Caught this one off of Cactus Forest Trail in Saguaro National Park East. As you head south on the trail, after a few minutes hike, look up to your left on the side of Observation Hill.

This one I claim as my own discovery, though of course I am not the first to have seen it. It was just a short distance beyond the last cristate on Cactus Forest Trail. Again on the left, it is quite well hidden from the trail and I only found it because I was interested in some other saguaros off the beaten path.

This crested one has shown up on my blog before but I am wanting to document all I have seen so far and in the order of sighting. This specimen shows up in the Saguaro National Park East also, near the entrance to the Javalina Picnic area.

This lovely saguaro is off the Garwood Trail in the same park.

We recently hiked in one of our favourite haunts here for hiking, Sabino Canyon. Sherwin asked where we would see a crested saguaro and they pointed us to the Nature Loop. Very unusual.

This newbie can be viewed from Freeman Road but is still within the park, between Broadway and Speedway.

This past week we went with the photo club to the ASARCO Mineral Discovery site and found this one at the entrance to the visitor centre.

And then, on our way home to Vail we travelled down Sahuarita road, looking for two crested saguaros we had seen on our way to or from Green Valley on other occasions. Today I was ready to crawl through a fence and hike a bit to see them up close.

They are all a lot alike and yet each one has its own personality.

And this one I just threw in to let you know I do take photos of more than crested saguaros. I was just pleased at the late afternoon sky as we headed back to the car on on home.

Do have a lovely Sabbath.
Be well and stay in touch.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Table Maker!

"He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands 
and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands 
and his head 
and his heart is an artist."
-Francis of Assisi

I mentioned that we needed some small tables around the house.

Lo, and behold, here is the first one, finished and sitting pretty in our living room.

Then Sherwin asked, what other tables do you need and where will they go?

I said, here and there. And now there are 3 more in the making.

What is most amazing about my new tables is that all the pieces of all the tables came from one dumpster or another here at Del Webb. I wonder if Pulte Homes knows that their laborers throw so much valuable wood in the dumpster.

Their loss is my good fortune, for which I am thankful tonight.

You all be well and stay in touch.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Eating to Live in 2015!

"Ask not what you can do for your country. 
Ask what's for lunch."
- Orson Welles

This stack of books look like a good start on our quest for 2015. Remember, at this house the major quest for the year is getting Sherwin's blood sugar count down.

So, that means the cook has to be educated! There is another stack of diabetes related books at home in Canada.

It appears everybody has an opinion on what is best... and the disconcerting thing is, no author (authority) agrees with another.

"All you need is love. 
But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."
- Charles M. Shulz

The second aid to lowering the levels is our exercise regime. Hiking has become our favourite pastime, sometimes just-us and sometimes in a group.

What a guy!

And our third aspect of this quest is to find the joy wherever we look/are/happen to be!

"The most wasted of all days 
is one without laughter."
-Nicholas Chamfort

We will keep you posted on our progress.

And any word of encouragement/advice/pearly wisdom is appreciated!

Stay in touch and be well.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Working Through Life...

From the land of cactus and sand...

The week started with a reversal on the Christmas tree decor... it is always a sad moment to tuck all the goodies away for yet another year but if 2015 goes by as quickly as 2014 I will be pulling out my dear treasures in no time at all...

The highlight of our week was our date night in town, out to dinner with friends and an off-Broadway production of "Joseph..." It was great fun, the dancing was delightful and it was great to share it with other musical lovers.

* * * * *

It seems that in January everyone is looking for the perfect recipe to make us over in the new year. For some months now I have been making a cookie that is tasty but not sweet.

I am not sure where I found this recipe so I cannot give anyone credit but we do love these little delights and are thankful for cookies in our life!

Simple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mix together in bowl 1:
2 cups almond meal
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix in small bowl 2:
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
3 T. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla

Stir bowls 1&2 together until well mixed. Using a small scoop place on cookie sheet, flatten with a fork and bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges.

I always double the recipe so I don't have to make them too often. 

This is what I use for chocolate chips... not sweetened at all, about as pure and holy as I can find, and perfect for cookies. 

* * * * *
Weep Trust  Pray  Think  Shift  Hope  Grow

Those words, taken in that order, will help us all work through the uninvited changes that come into our lives.

God be with you, be well and keep in touch.

Monday, January 5, 2015

In The Common Things of Life...

"The art of being happy 
lies in the power of 
extracting happiness 
from common things."
- Henry Ward Beecher

When we awoke the morning of January 1 there was a light dusting of snow everywhere. We dressed and went out into the white world enjoying the novelty. Of course, as the day warmed it all melted away and I particularly enjoyed the little drops of water on the back of the patio chairs. 

Three puzzles took shape on our table this past week... well ten days... Sherwin spent hours doing these with only a few minutes of help from me, but the pictures unfolding gave both of us a lot of delight.

When today promised to be gloriously sunny we set off for a hike to Saguaro National Park where we are getting to be regulars, enjoying a forest of Saguaros.

We stopped at the Park information/gift shop and asked about the crested Saguaros in the park, location and numbers, etc.

The Park managers pointed us to a couple trails on the map where they knew of these extraordinary mutations of Saguaros. Son Shelby had told us that he had read that there were at least 25/26 of these plants in the Park so we were on the hunt.

By taking Cactus Forest trail south towards the Lime Kilns we were assured we would see one.

I kept my eyes peeled for a curly top and just as they said, on the west side of Observation Hill, there stood an excellent specimen. Very lovely. We circled it and photographed it from every angle.

There is just something so enchanting about these rare tops.

We decided to continue south until we would see the Kilns and see what other treasures we could find along the trail. I saw some beauties off to one side and left the trail to get a better look.

I looked carefully around, always on the look out for uneven ground or wildlife I do not want to surprise. As I cast about I noticed an odd formation through some brush and called to Sherwin to join me... 

And sure enough. I had found another crested Saguaro tucked in a small depression in the desert with lots of brush shielding it from the trail about 100 feet away. I was delighted!

Often these plants are tall enough to see from some distance... not this one. What a find!

And what a glorious top to my find! For those not excited about cactus I am sure this may be rather ho-hum but for the rest of us this was a piece of pure delght.

There was another crested that I wanted to shoot yet, one that we had seen along the road on the way down to the Javalina Picnic Area.

So now I have 4 crested Saguaros marked on my map of the east side of Saguaro National Park.

On my way to town next time I will head down Freeman and shoot the other one I have seen inside park boundaries. And we just have another 20-22 more to find. There are only 91,000 + acres to search!

And so our first week in the new year has passed with us quietly enjoying the common things.
Make each day count.
Notice the common things around you.
And above all, be well.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year to All My Friends!

How auspicious! Just as I sit down to write a note to all my friends, wishing you all a great new year, the TV begins a program from Lincoln Centre with a nod to George and Ira Gershwin. The first song was, "Summertime, And the Livin' is Easy", from Porgy and Bess. That is where I got the title for my blog some years ago! Good omen.

Off to a great start to a new year!

In 2015 I want to:

Read more
Watch less
Move more
Eat Better
Spend less 
Sing every day
Show my love more
Accept what is
Let go of what was
and Trust in God more faithfully.

And my wish for you is that you do not regret all the people who have moved through your life. There have been good people who have brought you happiness. 
There have been bad people who have only given you experience.
The worst ones gave you some harsh lessons but,
the best people have given you great memories.

Tonight I am thankful for you all.
God bless and be well.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Christmas Post Script...

"It came without ribbons.
It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas means a little bit more."
- Dr. Seuss

For another year, Christmas is behind us. Until the very day of, it did not feel like Christmas here at all. Our tree was up,

cooking was done, there were packages under the tree and still Sherwin and I did not feel Christmasy at all.

Our children were all so far away. Our neighbours had the flu and couldn't come for dinner. Were we going to be able to salvage the day?

But the morning dawned. We lit the tree and began slowly celebrating with small steps. And before the day was far along we had spoken to all the children, eaten a yummy dinner and enjoyed spectacular Christmas music and a couple movies of a Christmas nature.

One of our highlights for TV watching was the ABC Peace on Earth Special from the Spencerville, MD Seventh-day Adventist Church.

It was a delight and we watched it at least 3 times yesterday. The above photo shows the Voice of Prophecy quartet, "The King's Heralds", singing "The Little Drummer Boy". Excellent.

Sherwin had opened only one gift the night before which he suspected was a puzzle from my sister and had made a good beginning, finishing it tonight.

Late in the afternoon we went for a walk and enjoyed an encounter with our local javelinas.

There were 10 or 11 of them and we were so excited to be so close our pictures are not without some blur but we also didn't want to get so close they would charge. They did have a couple babies with them.

All in all it was such a low-key, quiet, unusual day but it turned out to be a splendid experience. We found that we could relax and rest and just enjoy each other and the comfort and peace of our home here.

Yes we did have packages to open and enjoy but it seemed that Christmas for us, after a very troubled and turbulent year, was not going to happen. But it did. That is the joyful thing about our day! It did!!

When we just put one foot in front of another and walked through it, we found it was wonderful and everything Christmas should be. We ended the day with more peaceful hearts than we had enjoyed in some time.

"We are simply human beings, 
enfolded in weakness and in hope, 
called together to change our world 
one heart at a time."
- Jean Vanier

And so I leave you tonight with the wish that you could find peace in your hearts.

God be with you and be well.