Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Dinner with Neighbors

Many of our neighbors in Arizona return home or to their grandchildren for Christmas.  We have done that numerous times, as well.  This year we remained in somewhat sunny and warm Arizona for the holiday.  (It rained off and onTuesday and Wednesday.)

On Christmas Eve we worshiped at Our Savior's Lutheran.  Christmas day some neighbors invited the "left behinds" to join them for dinner. Rose, who is Italian, made a delicious lasagna.    Susan and Randy were two of those attending. Rebecca was across the table from them and somehow I cut her out of the photo. 

Rose and John are near the windows.

We shared a table with Helen and Steve.

With only 9 of us, we had a quiet afternoon and the chance to talk at length.  In fact, we were there for 4 hours.  What a good opportunity to get to know other snowbirds better.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Christmas Is Coming

And that means we need to pull out our much loved Christmas decorations and find places in our winter home to display them.  We have quite a few nativity sets.  One is carved out of olive wood, another is a puzzle. When the pieces are taken out of their frame they can be arranged with Mary, Joseph, the wise men, a shepherd and animals surrounding the baby Jesus.

Other sets are made of wood, glass, or pottery and one I shaped out of clay.

We also have a large collection of Santas.  The red plastic Santa on green skis I received as a child.  Five wooden ones John carved.  Two are antiques we found.

We have a small tree--just right for our small house.

John carved a larger nativity scene we display in front of our home.

Soon we need to go find some good Christmas light displays somewhere in the area.

We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, full of the joy of celebrating our Savior's birth,  and a happy and healthy new year.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Thanksgiving With Friends

On Thanksgiving we gathered with neighbors for a great pot-luck meal.  Usually these get-togethers are held on someone's patio but the day was cold(by Arizona standards) so we crowded into one of the homes.

I won't try to name everyone present but the group included people who live in our resort and some who left us for larger homes nearby but are still friends.

Everyone brings their own cutlery and beverage and a dish to share.  There was plenty of food to go around and lots of smiles laughter and sharing.

We will be having another gathering on Christmas.  Many of our neighbors go home for these holidays but those of us who stay are never lonely.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Walking in Gilbert

Our daily routine includes walking 10,000 steps, which is about 5 miles.  Most of the time we walk around our resort but sometimes we want a change of scenery.  One day we ventured out to the Gilbert Water Ranch.  There are several ponds where the water district stores their water.  In a desert, the water quickly attracts birds and other water-loving wildlife.

We saw these turtles sunning themselves on a log.

There are numerous varieties of ducks and other water birds, including the long-legged stilts in the upper right of this photo.  Their colors make them look like they are wearing tuxedos.

We enjoyed this egret.  It was standing still, waiting for a fish to swim up for dinner.

Once in a while, we will look for more interesting places to walk.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

I Guess I'm Old Fashioned

Like just about everyone I know, I bought an InstaPot a year or two ago.  It was small, only a 4 quart model.  I quickly realized it was too small to cook those things I use my crock pot for--like a beef roast.  So, I was storing the crock pot and InstaPot.  I did like all the recipes I found for the new appliance, but I never got used to using the pressure cooker function. 

So, what did I do?  I bought a pressure cooker.  I had gotten rid of the one I had used since we were first married over 50 years earlier.  The new one looks almost the same and, except for having the steam valve in a different location, I knew how to use it immediately. 

And I donated my InstaPot to the Goodwill. 

I made a roast in the new pressure cooker the first Sunday.  And I am using my crock pot to serve meatballs today and to make white chicken chili during the coming week.

When we went full-time in our RV 10 years ago, I gave my KitchenAid mixer to our daughter-in-law Liz.  It was just too large to carry in the RV.  Instead, I depended on the hand mixer I had received as a wedding gift. 

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new KitchenAid.  I have plenty of room in our Arizona kitchen.  It does a much better job on cakes and mashing potatoes than that hand mixer!

I love these appliances and they make cooking so much easier.  But it leaves me feeling old fashioned.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Entertaining Ourselves in the Winter

We truly enjoy our winters in Gold Canyon.  But life isn't full of as many photo and story opportunities as when we travel.

I baked cookies one day.  The oven in the Airstream measures 13 inches by 13 inches so baking there is difficult.  The large oven in our house here is 24 by 18.  I can bake a whole lot more cookies in the house.

We quickly ate up my cookies.  John's efforts are producing something much more lasting.  This is an intarsia wreath he made--assembled, then finished.  It hangs on our house in the covered patio area.

Saturday we drove to the West Valley to look around the Litchfield Park art and craft show.  There were some pretty items, but nothing really inspiring.  I didn't take many photos because many artists are afraid someone will copy their ideas.  These umbrellas might be of interest to the people in our resort who have sun decks.

There were t-shirts with messages and beautiful images in numerous booths.


And, of course, every style of jewelry you could ever want, assuming you are in the market for jewelry.  I wasn't.  There were very few booths with woodworking projects, something we would have been very interested it.

We were really big spenders.  We bought and shared this boat of french fries!

Today we were off to the Mesa library to look at the Grand Canyon State Model Railroad display.  I liked the smoke coming out of the smokestack in this section.

Lots of freight trains with coal and shipping containers.  We see lots of these containers as we travel and we were very familiar with coal trains when we lived in Castle Rock.     

The Burlington Northern line ran east and west through the northern part of the country as well as throughout the Midwest.  Today it is part of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe system.

Notice the two old black and white police cars in the city scene here.

There was a train station about this size in Castle Rock.  It was moved and it now a museum.

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Look at the length of this coal train.  They really hold up traffic when they pass through a town.
We decided some of the model railroad enthusiasts name businesses or towns after their wives who let them spend all that time and money on their hobby.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Desert Botanical Garden

One of the reasons we love spending our winters in Arizona is because we love the desert and the plants that grow here.  Saturday we visited the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden.  In addition to the plants, we saw the art exhibit, Wild Rising, by Cracking Art.  The large plastic figures sure are colorful, but we weren't at all sure they enhanced the desert.  But here are a few photos of the displays.

Some coyotes, maybe?

Very large rabbits

Birds and their eggs


 Meerkats.  They are near the Chihuly glass plants from a previous year's art focus.

Frogs overhead

And, finally, what we came to see.  Many of the barrel cactus plants were blooming.

Look at this young cactus, maybe a saguaro, with babies.  This is how some cactus spread.

The patterns and textures of cactus plants is interesting.

This is a crested cactus.  The spreading growth at the top is attractive, but it is also something like a cancer growing on the plant.

Cholla cactus.  Some of these are referred to as teddy bear cactus.

Organ pipe cactus.  There is a national monument dedicated to this cactus in southwest Arizona.

I love the shape of agave plants.

This barrel cactus has had a baby.

Yellow squash blossoms are pretty.

We also saw how some of the native Americans--Apache and Akimel O'Odham--lived in this hostile environment.

This is one of their corrals, made with desert plants.