Sunday, February 19, 2017

Last Days of Company

We had been going almost non-stop with our company so Monday, before John and Kendal left, we just sat around and talked.  Family time is so important and we had a good time together.  Mid-afternoon we saw them to the security checkpoint at Phoenix-Gateway Airport for their (fairly) short flight to Colorado Springs.



Cindy was leaving late Tuesday afternoon so we explored one more location she had not seen, the Queen Creek Olive Mill. We had been there but never took a tour. This time we learned a lot from the Olive Oil 101 presentation.

This old olive mill from Italy decorates the grounds.


Our tour guide was friendly, funny and full of all sorts of good information.  We started out in the olive grove.  They have 7,000 olive trees on 25 acres of land.  We learned that if 4% of the spring olive tree blossoms become olives a grove is commercially viable.


Queen Creek has 16 varieties of olive trees.  Olives have no natural threats in Arizona so they have no need for pesticides.  From the grove, we were off to the mill.  We learned a lot about how they make the oil and what makes it high quality.

These vats are where the oil is processed.  They bottle their oil every 3 weeks so what you purchase in their stores is always fresh.


We heard about the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil and about the other kinds of olive oil.


After the tour, we had lunch in their café.  They grow their own produce for many of the dishes they offer.


They also have fresh bread.  Did you know you can substitute olive oil for other fats in breads and cakes?  I didn't.  I had delicious red velvet cake made with chocolate olive oil.


They sell oils and vinegars, as well as breads.  There are tasting stations throughout the store.  A chocolate olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture was my favorite.


After lunch we were off to Sky Harbor Airport where Cindy caught her plane to Denver. We had a great week with family, but we also needed a day or two of rest after they left.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Food and Woodcarving

We did a lot of eating and talking over the weekend with Cindy, Kendal and John.  It included dinner at our house in Gold Canyon



and lunch at Sweet Tomatoes in Tempe,

Sunday morning before worship at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Tempe, we gave our guests a tour of the memorial garden there.


After lunch we were off to the Mesa Woodcarving Show.  There were lots of amazing projects there, including this intricate carved or scroll saw worked box.


I like this unusual bowl with turquoise inserts.


These two segmented bowls were prize-winning for sure.


And this large segmented vase is impressive, too.


We enjoyed this relief carving of horses and a wagon.


This was John and Kendal's first visit to the Phoenix area. Kendal is a multi-talented artist and John does a lot of woodworking so they both enjoyed the two events we visited over the weekend.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Family and Gourds

After the visit to the Musical Instrument Museum we took it easy for a few hours before going to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to pick up John 's sister Kendal and her husband John.  They didn't land till after 9 that evening so it was a late night for all of us.


Saturday morning we showed them around our resort, including a stop in the weight room where we go to work out.


Then we were off to the Gourd Festival at the Pinal County Fairgrounds.  It was a warm but not hot day and we had a good time.


We have been to this festival several times.  Cindy enjoyed it last year and came back at the same time again this year so she could shop some more.  Just look at all these creations.


This gourd had a weaving at the top.
The painting on this one has Southwestern kokopelli figures painted around the outside.



This gourd with the scene inside shows a group of soldiers, perhaps from the Civil War. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Music and Lunch

Sometimes it is difficult to blog because we aren't doing anything different or interesting. I can only write about walking 10,000 steps a day so many different ways. Sometimes it is difficult to blog because we are so busy I don't have time to write at the end of the day. That has been the problem in the past few days. John's sister Cindy flew in Wednesday last week and his sister Kendal and husband John flew in Friday. We were gone almost non-stop for five days. We had such a good time, but I was too busy and tired to blog. Now I am a week behind here and have to try and remember the details of what we did. Thank heavens for the pictures we took.

The Musical Instrument Museum was our destination Friday morning. We have been there once before and you can read about it here. The museum is huge and we didn't have the time or energy to explore all the galleries on that visit. Two areas we missed were the American and Arizona exhibits. This time we spent a lot of time there, as well as the European section.

We saw lots of guitars and other stringed instruments.






This is a keyed guitar.


Each museum visitor is given headphones. You stand in front of a screen and hear the music being performed--Bluetooth I imagine.


We saw all kinds of bagpipes.


We had a great lunch in the Allegro Café.  Notice we all had sweet potato fries with our sandwich.  You can see part of the beautiful grounds through the windows.






In the Arizona section we learned that there is a school of luthiery in the state. Luthiery is making wooden stringed instruments.



I wasn't aware of the fact Alice Cooper got his start in Arizona.


One section looked at the Blues and the fact that many early Blues artists used home-made instruments.  Here we see a jug, an ice bucket guitar and a cigar box guitar.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cruising Saguaro

Today we took John's sister Cindy, who is visiting for a week, for a cruise on Saguaro Lake north of Gold Canyon. A few weeks ago we hiked along the lake with friends Barbara and Ron and were looking forward to the cruise. We sailed on the Desert Belle.


The boat seats about 150 people. We picked up sandwiches from the Lakeshore Restaurant next to the marina. We planned to eat them during the cruise, but ending up consuming them while waiting to board.


The scenery on the 10-mile long lake is beautiful.





There are several American bald eagles nesting along the lake. We got a (very distant) view of one of them.


Several of the rock formations have been named. This is the elephant.


It was a fun and beautiful trip. We really recommend it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

How Does This Happen?

Spam comments. Where do they come from? Why are they there? I have been blogging for 10+ years. Only in the past two or three years have I received any spam comments. And they are always on posts I wrote in the past. When it was one spam comment every three to five months, I would just delete it. But two days ago I had seven spam comments in one day. They talked about Bitcoins, free iPhone 7s, duty free liquor and other unrelated subjects. Some comments were placed on more than one blog post.

Finally, I had had enough. I added comment moderation so I have to approve every comment before it is published. By the end of the day when I added comment moderation, the spam comments stopped coming. Is this permanent? We'll see.

First I thought the spam comments were advertisements. But now I wonder. Do the comments contain a link the reader can click that will lead to malware being installed on their computer? I don't know because I don't read the comments once I realize they are spam.

Have other bloggers had the same kind of spam? Is it a one time thing or has your kept coming? Is there anything else I can do beyond the comment moderation?

Whatever the issue, it makes me mad.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Are We Really in Arizona?

Wednesday we hiked the Saguaro Lake trail with our friends Ron and Barbara. The temps have been really cold for Arizona, as you can see in these two pictures.



The trail, which is 4 miles out and back, goes along the lake but sometimes we could see it and sometimes we couldn't. When we could see it, there were great views.



We also saw folks fishing and ducks, including these lesser scaups.



The views weren't too shabby when we were away from the lake, either. There were incredibly green hillsides because of all the rain we have had, great rock formations and beautiful saguaros and other cactus plants.






We also saw snow on some mountains on the horizon


It was a fun trail and a good time with good friends.