Sunday, December 28, 2008

In The Saddle Back Again

Today was a perfect Arizona winter day--57 degrees and clear, clean air. We decided to go four-wheeling in the beautiful Sonoran Desert, one of my top three favorite things to do! We decided to go fifty miles west from my house to Saddleback Mountain. Two mountain masses form the saddle, and there are canyons and gulches between them.

The smoke in the photo is actually steam coming from the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant. Palo Verde is the largest nuclear plant in the USA. It employs about 2,500 people.

Back side of saddle mountain

Rugged, towering cliffs and rock spires make for spectacular scenery. We saw mule deer, rabbits, and a few red-tailed hawks. I aways look for desert tortoises but so far have never found one! The Indian wheat, other grasses and wildflowers are abundant. After the recent rains the desert has turned green and I wanted to see how many wildflowers we could look forward to seeing in February, that is, if we get at least one more rain.

There are plenty of healthy Saguaro cactus in the area.

Taking photos at high noon makes for a poor photos that have washed-out color...I wish they would have shown the greening as it really is. It is breathtakingly beautiful for us Desert Rats!

This is an unusual twin headed Barrel cactus. I guess a wood pecker wanted a back door as this one pecked a hole all the way through.

We had a great time--only once did I have to get out of the truck while Hubby went practically sideways down a cliff! It's more fun to stand on the sidelines watching him tempt fate--I'm a little too chicken-hearted to stay in the truck! This was a wonderful end to a wonderful Christmas weekend.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Monday, December 22, 2008

Garden Gab

Today's sunrise.

My son brought over another plate of ripe figs!! We thought that the last bag he gave me would be the end of them for the season, but as you can see, they are still going strong. He had two other pickings after the last batch he gave me. This is a great Christmas gift!!

JOY TO THE WORLD!! Another stained glass piece that my friend made. I love the colors, and I think I will keep it up all year!

The Nasturtiums are looking good-- they will bloom later in January. This is the pot my squirrel visitor napped in before running through the neighborhood.

Froggies enjoy the sun as much as I do. White geraniums and Lobelia are filling out.

Do you think I will get any more ripe tomatoes? The bush is loaded with dozens of little tomatoes and it has a lot of blooms on the top.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Good Soaking is Good

After two days of rain the sun is out and hopefully will dry out all the potted cactus!

The pine cone cactus is so full of rain that it is drooping from the weight! Sorta like me...

The wild flowers love the rain and if it continues into January, we might have a large crop this year in the desert. I hope my wildflowers will be contained to this area, but my sister told me to quit dreaming! I might have a lot of dead flowers to pull up this summer! Is it to much to ask that I could be right just this once--after all, they are all walled in......

After a day of being soaked, I placed all the potted cactus under the bench trying to prevent water death! The rain was pleasant, slow and soaking, and much needed. Winter rains are nice. We love it when it rains here, but after two days without the sun, we start feeling constricted! The first day of rain and first day after brings such a pleasurable calm and such clean air. A blessing descending to earth! The effect is dramatic. Moods brighten and creativity surges, and the desert greens quickly. It's a beautiful winter desert day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunset Season

Sometimes I think this is the best time of the year for gorgeous sunsets, even more than during the Monsoon season in summer. This one occurred last evening as I had dinner at my daughter's. It doesn't get any better than this!

I haven't had a Christmas tree for over 26 years now, but each year after Christmas I've always purchased lots of decorations and stored them in the garage, filling over four floor-to-ceiling closets! I guess I figured maybe the next year I would get a tree.

Then, a few years ago I decided to simplify my life and declutter. I started in the garage and gave away all my best pieces to my daughters and I donated the rest. My sister did the same, and boy did the kids luck out! She had a ton of really nice stuff. They can decorate their homes each year with a different theme! When my sis visits, she always comments about how nice the decorations are, and says things like, "That's a great piece. It looks like something I would buy if I still decorated." The funny thing is, it was something she did buy, gave away, and forgot about! When that happens you know you had too much stuff.

I always help my daughter's decorate their homes and trees, so I do get my decorating fix! I'm not sure if I will buy more this year. Probably not, but I never know if the urge will hit when I see all the after Christmas sales.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


looking out my front door this evening......

See the decending sun,
Scatt'ring his beams about him as he sinks,
And gilding heaven above, and seas beneath,
With paint no mortal pencil can express.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Nod To Some Blog Friends

I have been busy in the past two weeks. Thanks to blogs I've visited, I have tried a few things that I knew I could create without expending too much energy! I've painted rocks in the past, so tried doing a few last week. Forgot which blog inspired this project. Here are a few more of my creations.

I guess I like doing bugs. I seem to do a lot of them. All are friendly, and they don't disturb any plants.

This one is kind of cock-eyed, but that's what makes him cute!

Turr Tull will have a companion when he comes out of hibernation next May-June.

Julie at A Succulent Life inspired me to try and grow a bonsai--I think I need to trim off the bottom stems and lower the top. (just did, and then the battery died in my camera. I'll get new photos to add later.) Hopefully it will look as good as hers eventually! Thanks, Julie!

My daughter's newly painted block wall got me into a colorful mood. I have had a small table with a two-chair set for over 20 years, and decided to brighten them up from the original white. One more coat on each piece and back they go into the fairy hideaway.

Aiyana at Water When Dry had a great idea of where to hang her extra wind chimes and sun catchers. She hangs them on a tall planter. Since I have an abundance of chimes and sun catchers stored in boxes, I'm going through them and will hang them up like I've done here. I might need another planter, I have so many! Thanks Aiyana, a perfect fix!

Claude at Random Rants and Prickly Plants saved my beloved sweet peas with his suggestion of sprinkling garlic around the plants and then watering it in to get rid of the no-see-ums. Yeah!! It worked! Grandmothers always know best! Thanks for the tip, Claude!


Just filled up my car--$17!! Just a short while ago it cost me $35! My daughter filled up for $35, and before it was $75! Too bad the media doesn't talk about the positives. This has to help the economy--I spent the money I saved on gas, and I'm sure everyone else will too! However, gas is NOT CHEAP at $1.79. People think that's cheap, and it is compared to $4 a gallon, but we shouldn't say it's cheap. Be sure and keep an eye on any plan to add more Federal tax on gas. I'm afraid that's coming next--just to control our usage and drive people to buy hybrids.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Experience List

I saw this meme on another blog and thought it looked fun. All you have to do is bold the items you've done on this list. It's odd that it only has 99 items, but that's the way it came. Try it yourself. I was surprised at how many of these things that I have done, but also surprised that I hadn't done some of the others.

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/world

8. Climbed a mountain.

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Gotten flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in Arlington Cemetery

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Feast!

My son planted a Black Mission fig tree last fall, and he has been getting figs all summer and into the fall! I picked these yesterday and ate them all at one sitting! The tree is still loaded and some more should be ripe this weekend.

My daughter also has a Black Mission tree and it has had only two good crops this season and that is fodder for some sibling rivalry! They send cell phone photos of their respective trees, with text messages arguing about who has the best crop, who has the most figs etc. Then, they call me to come over and do a taste test! You know what mothers. do....I tell each that theirs is the BEST! They still believe me even though they know I tell each of then the same thing! It's "Mom said mine was the best, yadda yadda.... My children are in their 40's! I just walk home from my daughter's with my belly full--waiting for the next round of fresh figs!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Days, Small Pleasures

I just had to have this sweet potato vine that I saw at Lowe's. It takes a lot of watering but it looks sooo good! There are actually two kinds of plants in this arrangement. I guess they are both sweet potato vines, but one is a bronze color. At first it looks like dry leaves in the photo, but if you enlarge the picture, you can see it's alive and well!

Flowers floating in a fountain at my Granddaughter's wedding. More pictures to follow after I get around to ordering them.

The Blue Plumbago went into a pot because I just don't have any place left to plant. I had one planted in the front courtyard that lasted one year. I just love the blue color, and hopefully it will last longer.

I was disappointed that I didn't get any blooms on the lithops this fall. I stared out last year with five in this pot. They just dry up and disappear overnight.

Each beautiful fall day puts me in a great mood. I try to focus on all the wonderful things I have, not what I lack. In fact, I can't think of a single thing I need at this moment! All the small, repetitive pleasures add up to happy feelings in general! I am happy I have two lithops left--I wasn't any happier when there were five!!! Go figure!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Random Plantings

I rescued this Elephant's Food plant from my neighbor's unattended side yard. Last year, it only had one section that appeared alive. I spotted a perfect branch to start a bonsai like Julie at A Succulent Life. She has instructions that I will follow as it grows, and hopefully it will grow into a beauty.

My "Husky Cherry Red" patio tomato has been producing dime sized tomatoes since September, and although quite small, they are delicious! I have been getting about three ripe ones a day, just enough to eat when I water the plant.

Flower beds are filling out. I have had a lot of trouble this year with random plants dying overnight. I try to fill in as quick as possible. This bed is full of petunias, snap dragons and lobelia.

My greatest hope is that my beloved sweet peas make it though the season. No-see-ums are eating them away! I check the plants at various times of the day to see what it could be--but no luck! I haven't over-fertilized, I use only Miracle Grow. They are getting the proper amount of water so I'm not sure what could be eating away at them. Come February I may go into a depression if I don't have sweet pea bouquets throughout my house every day, and my family will miss their daily delivery. I talk to the the plants every day and tell them to hang on and overcome this plague ! They know how much they mean to me! I am keeping the faith and know they will try hard! Sometimes though, nature out trumps our wishes.

We are having perfect weather--a little above normal --but gorgeous days, perfect for flower watching and swinging away in my swing and taking a daily walk around the lake! Did I ever tell you I live in the most perfect spot in the world? The fall, winter, and spring here are pretty close to heaven. The summers are really close to hell, but I wouldn't trade it for anywhere else!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pill Box Collection

Click to enlarge

Over the years I have started numerous collections. My pill box collection started when I received one as a gift. A perfect size to save and pack. I then decided to pick one up wherever I traveled. I always stopped at antique stores to look for another for my collection. There weren't a lot to choose from and in some places, I couldn't 'find any at all. Finding pill boxes was never a priority, and I didn't like to spend time combing dusty stores while on vacation. However, it was always fun to find one by happenstance.

There are about seven 7 countries represented here. I keep all the boxes in a tin that held buttons from another of my collections. As I've gotten older, I've eased up on collecting. No room, no interest, and no money to spare on unnecessary stuff! Except plants of course, but I've even cut back new ones as there isn't any more space left in my small garden.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fall Brought a Wedding and Bronchitis

Well, the big event happened--my granddaughter got married this past weekend. This is what's left of the wedding cake. It should have been saved for their first anniversary, but they decided to serve it at the next day's 'Thank You' BBQ. The honeymoon will be to an undisclosed location in December, after her college classes end for the semester. (She graduates in May with a degree in Education.) The cake was four layers; German chocolate, champagne, strawberry rum, and carrot cake. It was exceptional!

Their flowers were beautiful, with fall colors displayed on the fruit and foliage.

Some of the flowers had burnt orange-tipped yellow roses. I wish I knew the name of these, I'd love to plant some.

I have been very sick since just after the wedding with my very first bout ever of bronchitis. More pictures to follow soon as I am feeling better.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stepping on Turtles, Roosters and Geckos

I love stepping stones of all kinds, and I have a lot of them. I have two turtle stepping stones in my front courtyard.

The green stuff is Desert Bluebell sprouts, already up and growing all around my yard. I think I made a mistake in not pulling them up before they went to seed this past spring. But, come February, I'm sure I'll be able to show you all the pictures as I gush all over them!

I painted a gecko on an extra piece of flagstone and added it to my collection. I need to reseal it. The gecko looks like it is fading away.

Before my friend's disability progressed to where she couldn't stand for very long, she made amazing stained glass pieces. She also incorporated the glass into the stepping stones. This humming bird is made with an iridescent glass, and when the sun hits it, it shimmers.

She developed all the patterns that she used for her hanging stained glass art, and then transferred those same patterns into stepping stones.

She made this rooster for me, which I have hanging in my kitchen window. I used to have a whole collection of rooster items back in the day when such a thing was all the rage. This is one of the few rooster themed things I kept.

Then for my birthday, she made the stepping stone to match.

When she moved, she gave me these few pieces. I have all of them in my very small side yard making a path that leads to the heat pump. I have a small seating area at the end of the trail. Kind of a tiny retreat, suitable for fairies.