Sunday, December 26, 2021

Desert. What Desert?

We spend our winters in a desert--the Valley of the Sun, otherwise known as the Phoenix, Arizona, valley.  During the monsoon or rainy period during the summer, this area received 4.2 inches of rain--the third most monsoon rain in the past three decades.

The rain isn't done coming, however.  Friday, Christmas Eve, it rained all day in our resort in the east part of the Phoenix area.  Here are some pictures of what happened.

This is a catchment basin.  Since it rains so seldom, the rain isn't absorbed very easily.  These areas are built in to help keep the water.

Any ditch or wash quickly fills with a racing stream when it rains.  When we drive around in Arizona we often see signs reading "don't enter if filled with water.  It makes me wonder "why" until we experience a rainstorm like this.  

Normally, it is possible to cross this wash on a paved path.  Not Friday.

Here we see small lakes in a low-lying area.

Today, almost all of the puddles have dried up and the larger rainfall lakes are rapidly shrinking.  

We lived in Wisconsin for three years in the mid-1980s.  One year "only" 8 inches of rain had fallen by mid-summer.  That was what they call a drought.  Homeowners were out shopping for hoses and sprinklers so they could water their lawns and keep the grass alive.

The United States we live in covers so many environments, from deserts to rain forests.  Growing up in Colorado, lawns always have to be watered during warm weather months.  And that is the only way that green grass can be maintained here in the Phoenix area.  In Wisconsin, if it rains excessively, a windstorm could blow over trees with only very shallow root systems.  In the drier areas, roots go very deep to find moisture.

We have been so blessed to be able to travel throughout our wonderful country and learn about areas so different from what we grew up in.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes Everywhere

 When our children were young, I remember having boxes and wrapping paper everywhere after gifts were opened on Christmas day.  Today, there aren't that many empty boxes and those we have are smaller than those that held children's toys.  

However, we still have many boxes around our winter home.  These are all made of wood.  John has made most of them. This 8-sided box is one of 5 he has turned.  Notice the small cord coming out of the left side of the box.  This is where I store my hearing aids when I am not wearing them.  The charger fits in the box--actually, the box was made to accommodate the charger.  John also has rechargeable hearing aids, as do our son Eric and his wife Liz and John's sister Cindy.

This is a gentleman's jewelry box.  

Here you can see the various crosses John stores in his box.

Here are three more boxes he has made.  The top one is my jewelry box.  It has a different eagle than the one on John's box.

The second box has turquoise inlay in the hearts on the lid.  The bottom box has an inlaid cross.

This box is marked with an L and R.  It was made to store the hearing aids John had that aren't rechargeable.  Our rechargable ones are color coded for right and left.  The battery hearing aids aren't so the letter make it easy to know where they belong. The bottom box shows the interior of the box holding the charger.

John isn't the only person making boxes.   The two on the left I made, using the band saw.  The triangle John made on the scroll saw.  The separate piece on the top is used to cover 2 interior compartments while you retrieve the items in the third compartment.  

He made me one that is heart shaped.  I use it to store my earrings.  Believe me, that extra piece means I don't have to either dump out all the earrings to get what I want or use tweezers to pick out the small items.

This is the box and the special pieces that each cover two compartments of earrings so I can empty out the third compartment.

This stunning box is made of padauk, a red colored wood, with turquoise inlay.  

One of my band saw boxes.

I really like this star-shaped box.  We have included it in our nativity set display for Christmas.  (It is an awfully large star compared to the manger and stable in those sets, but it does (sort of) make sense.


Here are three more boxes John has made. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Memories, Memories, Memories

 It will soon be Christmas.  The day after Thanksgiving is often the day the Christmas decorations come out of storage--especially for us and for many of our neighbors.  Unwrapping these decorations brings back so many memories.  A number of the tree decorations are ones that were in my home growing up.

This Santa is made of something similar to plastic.  It had been on the tree when my mother was a child.

These snowmen are copies of ones that decorated our house when I was a teen.  After John and I married, my mom knit a set for me.

I think this tree was made in the 1930s or 40s.  I remember it in our home when I was a child.  At some point, I know my dad sprayed it with green paint to renew the color.  It has also been rewired so we didn't have a fire.


This Santa came filled with candy canes, probably as a gift when I was very young.

More modern Santas also decorate our home.  We bought this one because John loves trains.

When we lived in Granby in the Colorado mountains, we fell in love with skiing.  This ornament celebrates that activity.

Some of our ornaments first graced the home of other people.  We bought some of them in antique stores.

Our numerous Santas are arranged on the coffee table.  John carved the  five figures in the center front. 

We also have a number of nativity scenes.

I made this scene when I was working in the pottery studio.

This is a nativity puzzle.  Both John and I made these in the wood shop at our resort.

We have had trees of various sizes and shapes over the years.  We bought our first artificial tree in 1975 when we moved to Castle Rock the week before Christmas.  I seem to remember the only decorations were bows made of heavy red yarn.

There were large trees for larger living rooms and a very small tree for Christmases spent in an RV.  Since moving to our small home in Arizona, we have one just under 3 feet high.  The ornaments are quite small.

This is the tree in our Arizona home.

We have lived in three states and numerous homes over the 56 years of our marriage.  Christmas helps us think back on so many of our good times as a couple and a family.

One year when we were traveling a great amount of the time, we returned to find a broken pipe flooding our home in the Denver area.   Many things stored in the basement, including the many books in the library there, were destroyed.  Thankfully, some of the Christmas decorations were saved.  And after we recovered emotionally, we enjoyed shopping for new ones.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Desert Plants

Saturday we walked in the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, located about 25 miles east of our resort.  We hadn't been there for years.  

The plant displays were grouped by what desert they are native to.  We saw plants of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts that are near here as well as the Australian desert.  We have never been to Australia and I don't think of it having deserts, but I guess the outback is one.

The Chihuahuan desert covers much of West Texas, the middle and lower Rio Grande Valley and the lower Pecos Valley in New Mexico.

The Sonoran desert covers large parts of the southwestern United States, northwestern Mexico, and Baja California.

Many of the plants we saw, we are familiar with because we have been spending our winters in Arizona since 2009.  Unfortunately, didn't keep track of which gardens illustrated which desert.

This tree has a thick trunk, making me think it isn't native to the Sonoran desert.  

Saguaro cactus are very familiar.  I love them.  There is even one growing in the front yard of our winter home.  In this photo, you can also see prickly pear cactus.

There were lots of golden barrel cactus.

We learned the difference between yucca and aloe cactus.  The yucca grow more like trees.

This rock is thickly covered with yellow lichen.

Like I said, it has been several years since we were last at Boyce Thompson.  We didn't remember these stands of large trees.  They certainly are beautiful and provide a lot of shade.

Certainly an unusual cactus with an unusual name.

More of the large trees, with low desert shrubs in the foreground.

This display of Australian boomerangs was interesting.

Perhaps this tree is native to Australia.  I don't think I have ever seen one like it.

Pretty sure these are Australian plants.

This cactus is neat.  We see them often in our resort so I imagine they grow in the Sonoran desert.

This is really unusual bark.

A small ramada, providing shade for visitors.

If you aren't in to living plants, this metal and glass prickly pear is pretty.  The base is made of railroad spikes.

This attractive cactus garden highlights the entrance to the arboretum.


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Thanks for Your Service

Today, our country gives thanks for those who, throughout the 245 years since the Revolutionary War, have volunteered and many have died, so we can live the great lives we have.  We live in freedom in an amazing country.  Our resort held a parade and lunch to mark this day and thank those who served.  

I, and many of the others in this 55+ resort, were born during or soon after World War II.  Some served in the Korean Conflict, many in the Viet Nam war.  Since then, our son served during Desert Storm.  They all helped keep us and our country safe.  THANK YOU!

A parade in a senior resort includes lots of golf carts and bikes, as well as some folks walking.  The flags of the US and Canada were carried by some young men--I imagine from a Boy Scout group.


Our resort managers and their LARGE white dog.


Several golf carts.

Our older son, Doug, was a member of the US Marines for 23 years, serving in Panama, Somalia, Iraq and Kuwait, among other assignments.  We are proud of his service and so grateful he came come safely.