Monthly Archives: February 2013

Driedger Reunion in Arizona- Part 4- Party Time

Grandma Shirley gets some technological help from her granddaughter

Grandma Shirley gets some technological help from her granddaughter

The Driedgers got together for two meals during our Arizona reunion once at our condo here in Gold Canyon and once at Paul and Shirley’s condo in Scottsdale. The party at our house was on the day it snowed and as you can see in this photo it was chilly and people had donned the Arizona sweatshirts they were forced to buy here because of the unseasonably cold February temperatures. photography walkIsabella and her Mom Stephanie braved the cold  to go on a photography walk in the neighborhood with Hannah and me. sisters in law in the kitchenThe three sisters-in-law worked in the kitchen to get supper ready. who wants chili dogsUncle Dave manned the barbecue. “Hands up” if you want a chili dog. trying linda's delicious homemade salsaAunt Linda’s homemade salsa is delicious!scrabble with billDave played a little online scrabble with Bill in Leamington. Since Bill was the only Driedger brother absent Dave wanted him to feel a part of the action too. little arizona cowgirlGrace is checking out Isabella’s fashionable western wear purchased on an Arizona shopping trip.  happy birthday johnWe celebrated John’s birthday. He sang along and directed the Driedger choir’s rendition of Happy Birthday, while his daughter Hannah served the cake and his daughter Grace took photos. losing at euchreThere is no need to guess which Driedger brother won and which one lost this round of euchre. time for bedChloe let us know when the party was over and it was time for bed.around the pool in azAs you can see from this photo the weather was considerably different for our second Driedger party in Scottsdale. singing along to abbaIsabella is singing along to the Abba tunes playing on her grandma’s I-pad speaker by the pool. fashionable swimming trunksCheck out Uncle John’s colorful bathing attire. the hot tubShirley and Dave were having a discussion about movies and novels in the hot tub. chips anyoneShirley had made delicious guacamole and salsa dips but Chloe preferred her tortilla chips plain.the chefMike was the chef for this meal and he made fabulous appetizers- melon stuffed with herbed goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and grilled on cedar planks. The main course was different kinds of burgers with barbecued brussel sprouts which were absolutely heavenly. I had one of the vegetarian burgers Mike’s wife Stephanie had made and it was great! For dessert there was barbecued pineapple brushed with a sweet glaze and served with ice-cream. bathing beautiesNot sure what Stephanie and Hannah are so outraged about but it must be something one of their uncles said. euchre gameEuchre seemed to be the ‘game of the hour’ for this reunion week. Here cousins Mike and Hannah play with the uncles while listening to one of their cousin Bucky’s popular songs and donning shades for an added ‘coolness’ factor. Not that the Driedgers need any additional ‘coolness’. They are a pretty awesome family already.  

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Driedger Reunion in Arizona- Part 1- Spring Training
Driedger Reunion in Arizona- Part 2- Hiking

Driedger Reunion in Arizona- Part 3- It’s All Happening at the Zoo

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Driedger Reunion Arizona- Part 3- It’s All Happening At the Zoo

at the zooLast Saturday eleven of the twelve Driedgers holidaying here in Arizona spent a day at the Phoenix Zoo. king of the beasts

zebra phoenix zoo


learning to use the camera

riding the rocking horse
grandma and grandaughter
giraffe phoenix zoo
camel riding phoenix zoo
great uncle and niece

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Driedger Reunion in Arizona- Part 1- Spring Training
Driedger Reunion in Arizona- Part 2- Hiking

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Driedger Reunion Arizona- Part 2- Hiking

During the week my brother-in-law John, my sister-in-law Linda and their two daughters Grace and Hannah visited us we went on four very different mountain hikes. We climbed……
IMG_5707Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdalewind cave usery mtn azThe Wind Cave Trail up Usery MountainIMG_5658Silly Mountain in Gold Canyonbeautiful Graceand the Hieroglyphic Trail in the Superstition Mountainsreaching the hieroglyphicsLinda always reached the summits first, though often Dave wasn’t far behinddave shows us the wayOn our first hike not everyone was happy with the trail selections Dave made and some vowed never to hike with him again, although they all did eventually. uncle and niecesDave takes a break with his lovely niecespointing out the hieroglypicsOn the Hieroglyphics Trail Hannah was like a mountain goat, scrambling right up to the petroglyphs and scaring her mother. marylou and lindaUsually I couldn’t keep up to Linda but did manage this photo at one rest stop. dinasour mtn from the heiroglyphic trailFrom the Hieroglyphics Trail we could see Dinosaur Mountain in the background where our house is located. mom waits for familyLinda waits for her family to catch up with her. hiking to wind cave azAlthough it was very hot the day we climbed the Wind Cave Trail as you can see from John’s flushed face……..cold in wind cavethe temperature in the Wind Caves was quite chilly and we all put our jackets back on when we reached the summit of the trail. family photoStopping for a Driedger family photo on Silly Mountain. IMG_5749In an incredible it’s a small world moment we met this man from Gimli Manitoba on Usery Mountain.He stopped us when he noticed Dave’s Winnipeg Jets hat. In the course of the conversation we discover he is a neighbor to my cousin Al and his name is John Driedger. My brother-in-law is John Driedger too- so John Driedger from Manitoba met John Driedger from Ontario on a hiking trail in Phoenix Arizona. grace and the saguaro“What’s inside that saguaro cactus?” Grace wonders.
dave is getting tired“Family hiking trips are tiring”, Dave says with a yawn. “Why did I decide to go hiking instead of taking a nap”, he wonders scratching his head. the end of the trailCelebrating at the end of the trail!

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Driedger Reunion Arizona- Part 1- Spring Training

at the angels spring training in phoenixThere are twelve members of the Driedger extended family in Phoenix right now and yesterday we all got together and went to watch some major league baseball spring training at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ball park.  Here Dave and our niece Hannah check out some of the players as they warm up. IMG_1435 Dave and his brother Paul discuss how the batters are doing. angels of annaheim stadium in phoenixThe Angels practice in a very nice facility. IMG_1430Our great-niece Chloe was more interested in making nature discoveries than watching the ball players in action. desert family photoDave’s brother John, his wife Linda and their daughters Grace and Hannah got a bird’s-eye view of the fielders warming up from a desert perch beside the diamond.watching angels fielding practiceDave and our nephew Mike opted for a little closer look at the action on the field.
watching the angelsMy sister-in-law Shirley scrutinizes the batters closely.
IMG_1436How big are those players’ muscles anyway Hannah wonders, while Grace takes  photos of her favorite players. reading david bergen's age of hope at the ball gameLinda only had a few pages left in David Bergen’s book The Age of Hope and figured she’d watched enough baseball and just had to see how the novel ended!chatting with the playersJohn visited with Vernon Wells who used to play for Toronto. eating a crackerChloe decided it was time for lunch and some people were ready to go shopping at the flea marketIMG_1414So we left practice and decided to meet the next morning at the zoo. echure on the patioIt was a beautiful day and when we got back to our place, Dave, Hannah, Grace and John had a lively euchre tournament on the patio. 

Keep checking the blog for further chapters in the Driedger Reunion in Arizona story. 

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It Snowed in Phoenix Yesterday

snow in gold canyon azIt snowed in Phoenix yesterday! According to one website the last time there was officially measurable snow in Phoenix was in 1937.  gold canyon snowBut as you can see from these picture I took in our backyard big flakes were coming down. It even looked like it was hailing for a time. 

snow covered mtnsThe Superstition Mountains behind our house were covered with snow. IMG_1362Cars were stopped all along the streets so people could take pictures of the unusual sight. snow on gold canyon mtnsThe snow still covered the mountains in the evening. hieroglyphic trail gold canyon

This morning we hiked the Hieroglyphic Trail and the snow was still there. cactus and snowIt was weird to be hiking and find little patches of snow in amongst the cacti. snowy superstition mtnsWe’re hoping it won’t snow again during our Phoenix stay because we are here for the warm sunny weather. It did however make for a unique experience to see the now familiar scenery decorated with snow. 

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It’s Freeeeeeeeezing in Arizona

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Family Visit

hiking silly mountain arizonaMy sister-in-law Shirley and brother-in-law Paul who live in Leamington, Ontario were visiting us here in Arizona for five days last week. hiking with dave We got lots of exercise. One day Shirley and I walked to the grocery store and back together, over 13 kilometers and another day Paul and Shirley and I made a one way walking journey to the store but Dave picked us up for the return trip.chatting with fellow hikers on silly mountain We went hiking on Silly Mountain. Here Paul and Shirley chat with some fellow Canadians we met on the mountain trails.golfing at sidewinder The guys golfed four times and Shirley and I joined them for two of the rounds at the Mountain Brook and Sidewinder courses. I was pretty pleased with some of my shots but didn’t hold a candle to Shirley who was just whacking the ball and beat the guys on quite a few holessidewinder golf course On one hole it was hard to concentrate as we teed off because of all the yelping going on. We looked up to see a pack of six coyotes run away through the cacti. They were probably giving chase to one of the many rabbits on the course. happy hour on our arizona patio Every evening we had happy hour out on the patio behind our house, which gets the warm sun starting at about two o’clock in the afternoon.  Check out Shirley’s fashionable hat. paul's hatSince Paul refused to wear his cool hat I told him I was going to steal it from him. saguaro's at sunsetThere is a row of saguaros on Dinosaur Mountain behind our house that take on a rustic orange glow every evening as the sun sets. euchre gamesEvery evening in between happy hour and supper we played a best of three games euchre tournament with the men against the women. Even though I was a euchre novice, Shirley and I managed to win a third of the games. Paul did accuse us of having too much table talk, and Dave suggested that during some of our pregnant pauses before we made our moves, we were subtly communicating with each other. Shirley and I decided to just ignore their complaints and enjoy the games even when we lost. panhandler pub apache junctionOne night Dave took us to the Handlebar Pub and Grill, his new favorite restaurant in Apache Junction. They specialize in all kinds of hamburgers grilled over a fire and served with a mixed green salad or a blue cheese potato tap handle collection They also have eighteen of kinds of beer on tap and the ceiling features this collection of beer tap handles. handlebar pub in apache junctionWe enjoyed our food and the country western music group that was performing. stuffed mushroom caps and melonOn Valentine’s Day Shirley and I made a special supper for the guys. I meant to take pictures of each course but only remembered to photograph the appetizers- stuffed blue cheese mushroom caps and melon wrapped with prosciutto. We also served a goat cheese, strawberry and arugula salad, steak and baked potatoes and a tuxedo cake for dessert.

Paul and Shirley left on Friday afternoon to move to their own condo in Scottsdale.  We will get together again this week after eight more Driedger family members arrive in Arizona for a visit, four at our place and four at Paul and Shirley’s. 

If you enjoyed this post you might want to read about our time with Paul and Shirley in Arizona last year……………

Hiking Pinnacle Peak

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Arizona

Golfing in Phoenix

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Dinner with Uncle Herb

uncle and nieceLast week we drove to Scottsdale to have dinner with my Uncle Herb. He was staying at his daughter and son-in-law’s vacation home for ten days or so because he had some appointments in Phoenix.  I was so glad we had a short break in house guests and were able to fit in a visit with my uncle. He lives in Arkansas with my Aunt Mary and so we don’t get to see them very often. Last winter Dave and I spent a memorable day with Uncle Herb because our visits to Phoenix coincided just as they did this year. You can read about that here. 

cartwrights restaurant scottsdaleUncle Herb took us to dinner at Cartwright’s.  It is named after a large ranch owned for over a century by the Cartwright family. cartwright's restaurant cave creek arizonaThe ranch is  located just south of the restaurant and the restaurant’s interior is designed to look like the original Cartwright ranch house.camarena art gallery cave creek

Next door to the restaurant was the Camarena Art Gallery and before we went into to dinner Dave browsed through the paintings on display outside. As you know from a previous post we’ve been having an ongoing debate about what kind of art work to put on our livingroom wall and Dave proposed that this piece just might work. I wasn’t sure how we would fit it in our car for the trip back to Manitoba. dinner at cartwright's cave creek arizona

With Uncle Herb you never run out of conversation topics. He’s interested in all kind of things- Mennonite history, travel and politics.  Uncle Herb is a retired surgeon, who practiced in the mid-western United States and he and my aunt have also lived in Asia and Europe. Besides catching up on family news we discussed the differences between Canada and the United States in all kinds of things from gun control to health care to politics. Uncle Herb takes each of his grandchildren on a trip to Europe at some point after they graduate from high school and he told us about his plans for his next adventure with one of his grandkids.dessert at cartwrights cave creek

The food and wine were great. Here are the two rather decadent desserts Uncle Herb insisted on ordering for us to share. The guys had steak and I had halibut cooked Sonoran Style with avocado salsa,  sweet potatoes, charred tomatoes, yucca root and wood grilled squash. Dave and I also shared a watercress and gorgonzola salad with grilled tart apples and Arizona pecans. It was a memorable meal.

uncle and nieceDave and I do hope to make a trip to Arkansas to visit Uncle Herb and Aunt Mary this coming year, but it was great to catch up with each other last week.  Our time in Arizona is giving us lots of opportunities to spend time with family and friends, which is an added vacation bonus. 


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Arizona Golf Reunion

golf teamOn Saturday we hosted a golf reunion party at our house.  Dave golfs weekly with a group of friends in Steinbach and when he found out they were all going to be in Phoenix at the same time he arranged a reunion game at the Mountain Brook Golf Course near our home.  Later all five guys and their wives came over for supper. chris in the kitchen I was so lucky to have my friend Chris staying with us. She helped with the grocery shopping, meal preparation and clean up !!marlene and daveMarlene is listening with rapt attention while Dave tells her about his golf game. barbequing Dave returned the favor by listening carefully when Marlene gave him advice on how to barbecue the European hot dogs. 
chris and don chat I think Chris is telling Don about the hairpin turns and steep hills on our adventuresome drive through the Tonto Forest the day before. warming up in front of the fireThe afternoon had been pretty chilly so Harv and Ken needed to warm up in front of our electric fireplace after four hours out golfing in the cold weather. sampling the shrimpNell is sampling the shrimp while Don a former professional restaurateur looks on.sister and brotherI got this nice brother and sister photo of Barb and John.  loading up the hotdogsMarlene and Nell are loading up their hotdogs.stargazingAt one point we all went out to admire the stars and then nostalgically burst into a four-part harmony version of the Red River Valley. serenipitousOur friend John likes to use the word serendipitous. I think it was serendipitous that we were all in Arizona at the same time and that it worked out for us to get together.

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Hi Ho Tonto!

man biting ocotillo cactus Is Dave trying to bite this ocotillo cactus? Yes indeed! He may be a little ahead of his time, since the ocotillo isn’t blooming yet, but the flowers actually are often used in salads and have a tangy taste.
photographers tonto national forestWe had an exciting excursion yesterday.Our friends John and Chris returned to our place after being away for a week and together we went on an adventure in the Tonto National Forest. John and Chris belong to a photography club and so they always had their eye out for interesting places to stop and take pictures on our nearly six-hour drive through the forest. looking at canyon lake tonto national forest Our first stop was Canyon Lake. canyon lake tonto national forestChris was buying jewelery from some women selling their wares and I went off on a little hike to get some photos of the interesting rock formations. 
visiting at canyon lake When I came back Dave and John were having a deep discussion about retirement income and whether they had saved enough to get them and their lovely wives through their twilight years.woman with cowboy cutout tortilla flatsNext stop was Tortilla Flats- a kind of kitchy western town where you could pose with a gunslingercountry western singersListen to country western music
boardwalk tortilla flats Walk the boardwalk
hanged man tortilla flatsAnd check out the hangman’s handiwork.superstition saloon tortilla flats snake venom beerWe had lunch at the Superstition Saloon. Dave and John are drinking snake venom beer and trying to make their fingers look like snake fangs. Chris mentioned that their choice of drink was very appropriate since it was the start of the Chinese New Year and it is the year of the snake. dollar bills superstition saloon tortilla flats Chris and I are sitting in front of some of the famous signed dollar bills in the saloon. They are five layers deep in some places and there are nearly 150,000 plastered all over the walls of the place. Apparently this is in keeping with a cowboy custom that was common before there were many banks in the Old West.  When cowboys set out on a cattle drive they would leave a dollar with their name written on it fastened to the wall of a saloon. Then if they came back from the drive penniless they still had a dollar to their name saved for them on the saloon wall. The bills behind Chris and me were signed by people from all over the world.stop along apache trail scenic driveAlthough John, our driver was not that excited about it, we decided to continue from Tortilla Flats down the scenic Apache Trail to Apache Lake and Roosevelt Dam.  It certainly was scenic but also pretty scary in spots. It was a 22 mile gravel road, one lane and we had to pull over to let other cars pass. 
apache scenic trail tonto forestThe road was incredibly steep and winding. When we got to the bottom of one part of the trail and looked waaaaaaaaaay up at the narrow roadway with a sheer drop on one side we couldn’t believe we had driven on it. I have to admit my heart was beating pretty fast on some sections of that road. 
fisher scenic point apache trail tonto forestWe stopped at the Fisher Scenic Point. Dave has his hands up to the sky here. I’m not sure if he is praying or just in awe of the magnificent scenery. agave flower stalkI thought this agave flower stalk looked beautiful against the blue sky. The picture is bittersweet in a way though because when an agave plant sends out a stalk like this it means it is going to die. roosevelt damWe finally reached the Roosevelt Dam after passing some unbelievable scenery along the way. The dam is named after Theodore Roosevelt who was the United States President when it was built. cliff dwellings tonto national parkOur last stop was at the Tonto National Monument where you can see the cliff dwellings of the Salado people in the 1300’s.  At one time hundreds of these cliff dwellings dotted the landscape. They provided protection from enemies and the elements. salado potteryIn the museum we watched a video about the Salado people and looked at their pottery, weavings, clothing and other artifacts. 

sunset tonto forestWe took the highway home and although it wasn’t as scenic as the winding trail by which we’d come, it was still beautiful.  John stopped the car so we could take photos of the sun setting over the desert. 

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Safe and Inclusive Schools

I immediately thought of Rebekah Enns when I read last week’s Carillon story about a public community forum scheduled for the Steinbach Christian High School on February 24. The forum is being held in response to a proposed amendment to the Manitoba schools act that seeks to establish safe and inclusive schools in our province. The SCHS official statement does not specifically mention the legislation’s requirement that schools support the creation of groups such as a Gay-Straight Alliance on their campuses. However, the Carillon article suggests it is this part of the proposed amendment that may be of concern to SCHS.

The reason I thought of Rebekah Enns while reading the article is that in November of 2011 she received the Sybil Shack Youth Award from the Manitoba and Canadian Human Rights Commissions for starting a Gay-Straight Alliance group at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate where she was a grade eleven student at the time. The school’s counsellor Donna Peters Small nominated Rebekah for the award saying that since the Christian community has varied opinions on the issue of homosexuality Rebekah showed courage and opened herself up to criticism by taking the initiative to start the alliance.

Photo of Rebekah Enns by Simon Fuller

In an interview with The Lance community newspaper Rebekah said she was pleased with the interest Westgate principal Bob Hummelt expressed when she talked to him about her plan to organize the group. The alliance at Westgate has about a dozen members who meet monthly to discuss topics surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Canadian Mennonite magazine states in an article about Rebekah that her motivation was to create comfort and understanding about the issue of homosexuality at her school. When interviewed by CTV Rebekah said she’d heard horror stories from teenagers who had been bullied after openly declaring their sexual orientation to the members of their school communities. She wanted to start a group that helped educate people so that kind of bullying might be prevented.

Rebekah and her family attend Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg and she credited her pastors saying, “everything I’ve learned from them is about acceptance.” When I heard Rebekah interviewed on the radio she was asked what her parents thought about her organizing the group and winning the award. She said they were very proud of her.

Westgate Mennonite Collegiate makes no secret of their religious purpose. Their mission statement prominently displayed on their home page is “to inspire and empower students to live as people of God.”   It is interesting to note that Westgate was actually ‘ahead of the times’ in allowing the creation of a Gay-Straight Alliance on their campus even before the introduction of the proposed provincial government legislation encouraging schools to do so.

I was a high school teacher for six years in a public school in Steinbach and a private Christian school in Hong Kong. Perhaps because I taught language arts I was sometimes allowed a deeper glimpse into the personal lives of my students because they seemed freer to express what they were feeling in their writing. What I learned from the things they wrote for me was that in both schools I had a surprising number of students who were struggling with issues of sexual identity and orientation and they did not feel supported by their school community nor did they feel they would be safe, secure or respected were they to be honest about their struggles.

Principal Scott Wiebe was quoted in last week’s Carillon saying the aim of SCHS is to ensure that “all students are respected as persons created by God.”  Perhaps Rebekah Enns and Westgate Mennonite Collegiate have something to teach us about what that might mean.


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