Tag Archives: Arizona

Family Fun

arrivederci-dinnerMy brother-in-law and sister in law’s time in Phoenix overlapped with ours by a couple of weeks.  Although their rented home is over an hour away from ours we have still managed to get together for two games of golf, a lunch and supper that included our children and grandchildren, a night at the Handlebar restaurant and dinner at Arrivedercis a family owned and operated Italian place with fabulous food. We also managed to fit in a few games of euchre.   We always have a great time with Paul and Shirley!dave-paul-golf



Other posts…….

Showing Off Our City

Family Visit

Trilliums Food For the Soul

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An Arizona Trifecta

ray-and-nickyBreakfast with Ray and Nicky paul-and-shirleyGolfing with Paul and Shirleyhans-and-chrisSupper with Hans and Chrischris-and-marylou

Other posts……….

Top Ten List in Arizona

Arizona Mailboxes

Hi Ho 

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A New Sport For Dave

pickle-ball-daveMy husband Dave had tried the game of pickle ball once or twice before coming here to Arizona but now he’s joined a community league and he plays virtually every day for two hours or more.  He wasn’t sure about investing money in a pickle ball paddle till he knew if he really liked the game. Our Steinbach friend Ric who spends half the year here in Arizona came to his aid . Ric wasn’t using his pickle ball paddle due to an athletic injury and said Dave could borrow his.  Dave contacted the local  pickle ball coordinator on-line and the first week we were here he hit the courts.  dave-plays-pickle-ballI love hearing his stories about the various players every time he comes home.  He is making lots of new friends from all over Canada and the United States and is really having fun. pickle-ball-court-dave-azThe other night he actually went to a sports store to look for a paddle of his own to take back home.  A couple from Winnipeg plays regularly in his Arizona group and they have invited him to join a league in St. Boniface that meets at a facility not too far from our home.  az-pickle-ballDave doesn’t really need another sport to get involved in but there is not doubt he’s a life-long athlete as the shots in this post attest to.  I had to take them through the wire mesh around the courts but I think they still give you a pretty good idea of just how much he’s enjoying his new sport. dave-pickle-ball-friendsOther posts……….

Dave Tries Boogie Boarding

Watching the Regional Ultimate Tournament

I Did the Limbo on the Golf Course

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Valentine Blues

A man who has taken to drinking and smoking since his girlfriend left him, a fellow who murdered a two timing partner and someone bidding their lover good-bye. Sounds pretty sad and it was.  Those were themes of songs we heard at a concert at the Higley Performance Centre here in Arizona. We listened to three different folk groups. Each sang at least one blues song that talked about just how sad love can be.

linda-bilqueLinda Bilque and the musicians who accompained her sang The No Account Blues.  

You left me oh my darling
And now I have to live with me
So I’m smoking and drinking darling
I’ve got a case of those no account blues
I toss and I turn in my teardrops
Like a fool whose got nothing to lose. 

j-c-and-laneyJ.C. and Laney a talented duo performed Don’t Need a Good Reason. 

Don’t need a good reason for things to change
When you’re not looking time steals what you arrange
We’re on borrowed time and our love was over
Long before you said the word good-bye. 

three-legged-dogThree Legged Dog a group of three amazing musicians who each played so many different instruments it left you dizzy did a number called Three Quarter Time. 

One verse talks about how a man catches his girlfriend cheating on him and says she “trod upon my heart in three quarter time.”
The following verse describes how he killed that girlfriend and threw her in the pond where “the bullfrogs sang in three quarter time.”
The song ends with the man being hung for his crime and “doing the gallows dance in three quarter time.” 

On Valentine’s Day we celebrate the beauty of love but the folk concert we attended reminded us that sometimes love can have a pretty dark side too. 

james-sallis-musician-and-authorThe most interesting performer of the evening was James Sallis, referred to as the “irascible banjo player” who we discovered is an American crime writer best known for his novel Drive which was adapted into a movie  in 2011 starring Ryan Gosling.

Other posts……..

The Arizona Opry

Burton Cummings in Arizona

Organ Music With Your Pizza Anyone? 

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Horses First in Arizona


little-leaf-trailTrails in the San Tan Regional Park where we have been doing a fair bit of hiking are open to cyclists, hikers and horse back riders. In order to make the hiking paths as safe as possible park officials have made it clear who takes priority on the trails. 


horses-firstHorses rank number one.  Every one else must give them the right of way. Hikers are second in line.  They must yield to horses but not to cyclists. And cyclists are on the bottom rung. It is their responsibility to yield to everyone else on the trail. 

So far riders, bikers and hikers on the trails have all been extremely polite and friendly and following park etiquette admirably. But I guess you know you are out west when horses are ‘top dog’. 

Other posts…….

Visiting Uncle Herb

Cowboys Coffee Hour

Mailboxes of Distinction

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Getting To Know the Southwest Through Art

majestic-cat-by-tom-palmoreOn our visit to the Phoenix Art Gallery I wanted to concentrate on finding art that told the story of the southwestern part of the United States. This stunning piece called Majestic Cat is by Tom Palmore.  He specializes in paintings that include wild animals and look almost like photographs. By putting the animals in a setting that has connections to the human world he wants to remind the viewer that we share our planet with other beings. The southwest Sonoran Desert is home to many mountain lions. lew-davis-copper-mining-townArtist Lew Davis was born in the copper mining town of Jerome, Arizona. The Phoenix Art Gallery has a whole series of his paintings which depict life in a copper mining town including this rather haunting one of a young boy called Little Boy Lives in A Copper Camp. canyon-country-georgia-o-keefeGeorgia O Keeffe is probably the most famous artist of the southwestern United States.  She lived and worked primarily in New Mexico and painted many pieces that depict canyons.  This one called Canyon Country was painted in 1965. Although the Grand Canyon is the most well-known of the southwest canyons there are an abundance of canyons throughout the area. easter-painting-paul-pletkaLike Georgia O Keeffe artist Paul Pletka lives and works primarily in New Mexico but he studied at the University of Arizona. This piece of his called Our Lord The One Who Is Flayed shows a group of Mexican people reenacting the passion of Christ during Lent. The painting has images from the biblical story of the crucifixion as well as the story of the Mexican deity Xipe Totec the god of renewal. colorado-river-phoenix-art-galleryDave, my brother and our art gallery guide check out a recreation of the Colorado River by artist Maya Lin. It is called Pin River and made up of thousands of metal pins pushed into the wall. The artist digitally mapped the topographical lines of the river and then recreated it. Part of the Colorado River flows through Arizona’s Grand Canyon before emptying into Lake Mead on the Arizona Nevada border. ed-mell-sweeping-cloudsI was particularly interested in Phoenix artist Ed Mell because he taught for a time on the Hopi Indian Reservation just as we did.  This piece of his is called Sweeping Clouds. 

The Phoenix Art Gallery provides a good introduction to art of the southwest. 

Other posts……..

Getting Into Art

Are You Sure They Aren’t Photographs? 

Sleeping in an Art Gallery


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Sunset Walk in America The Beautiful

Dave and Hans ready for the hike.

Dave and Hans ready for the walk.

At the invitation of our friend Hans, who lives not far from us here in the San Tan Valley we went on a photography walk to see the Arizona sunset.  The walk was in Lost Dutchman State Park an Arizona park we had never visited before.

Hans gets ready to take a photo beside a saguaro cactus that we learned weighs 10 tons. We hoped it wouldn't fall on him!

Hans gets ready to take a photo beside a saguaro cactus that we learned weighs 10 tons. We hoped it wouldn’t fall on him!

Hans who belongs to a photography club carries all kinds of photography equipment along with him on these adventures. We even had to turn the car around just after setting off for the park to go back for stuff he had forgotten.  I’m sure the photos he took on our walk were stunning and I am looking forward to seeing them. people-on-hikeWe were on the walk with forty-five other people. When we introduced ourselves we found out there was one other couple from Canada. They live near Ottawa but otherwise our group had visitors from more than a dozen different American states.comb-for-cactusBarb, a park volunteer was our guide for the walk. She has a comb pick in her hand. She told us this is an essential tool for a desert walk because it helps to get unwanted cacti burrs off your clothing without hurting your hands. hedge-hog-cactusBarb stopped to point out a whole bunch of different plants and trees on the hike.  These are hedgehog cacti. four-peaks-with-desert-in-foregroundEarly in our walk we got our first view of the snow-capped Four Peaks way off in the distance. They are part of the Mazatzal Mountains.  Only one of the four peaks has an official name-Brown’s Peak so I wondered what we could call the others. 

four-peaksPerhaps one should be named the Amethyst Peak since our guide Barb told us that between the third and fourth peak is the only commercial amethyst mine in the United States. Helicopters take supplies in and minerals out. The miners hike nine miles to work and usually spend about a week at a time at the mine site which has no running water or electricity.  Hand tools are used to extract the amethyst. flat-iron-mountainBecause we were on the hike with Hans we actually got a picture of the two of us together.

dave-lost-dutchman-hikeDuring our two-hour walk, it was interesting to watch the sun change Flat Iron, the rock formation behind us. Formed by volcanic activity some 25 million years ago it is a pillared mesa. marylou-lost-dutchman-hike



mistletoe-on-treesHere Barb is showing us some mistletoe growing on a tree.  Desert mistletoe will eventually kill a tree but it can take 10 to 15 years to do so. The parasite is spread from one tree to another by birds who wipe their bills on branches or deposit droppings on the tree after eating the mistletoe fruit.  Mistletoe is just a fact of life in the Sonoran Desert and there isn’t much you can do about it. 

Don't Dave and Hans look fascinated with all the facts they are learning about the mistletoe?

Don’t Dave and Hans look fascinated with all the facts they are learning about the mistletoe?

sunset-on-the-mountainAt this point in the evening, Flat Iron reminded me of the red rocks you see in the Sedona area. praying-handsThis rock formation has been dubbed The Praying Hand. It is a favourite ascent for rock climbers.faces-in-the-rock-az I thought the formation on the bottom left here looked like a hand too and in the one in the centre, I could see a face with eyes, nose and mouth. 

purple-mountainsLater in the evening, the light on the distant mountains reminded me of that line from God Bless America about the purple mountains majesty. The song was written using the words from a poem by Katherine Lee Bates. She and her life partner Katharine Coman were fellow Wellesley professors who traveled often to the American West and were tireless advocates for America’s poor. hoodos-and-flood-flat-iron-azThe rock formation in the background of this photo figures prominently in a First Nations legend that tells the story of a group of people who escaped a flood by climbing to its peak. The white line on the rock shows how high the water came.  See the hoodos to the left? They are tall thin spires of rock also called fairy chimneys or earth pyramids. There is also a tragic modern story associated with this rock formation. On Thanksgiving, in 2011 a plane crashed into it killing six people including a father and his three children. sunset-desertAs we neared the end of our walk the sun truly set and we got some colourful views. diverse-crowd-hikesThe news is just full of all this rhetoric about a divided America and so it was kind of reassuring and lovely to hike through the sunset with this huge group of people of varying ages, from varying cultural backgrounds and various geographical regions in the United States who were all so friendly and enjoying nature’s spectacular show together.

Other posts……….

Wine Canyon

Six Toed Cats, A Birthing Chair and His Last Penny

Better With Friends


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I’ve Lost My Hiking Buddy

ken-and-meMy brother went home yesterday and so I’ve lost my intrepid hiking buddy.  He was always willing to head out on the Arizona trails with me. When my husband Dave was on the pickle ball court or golfing or playing baseball or watching football my brother and I would head out on a hike.

hikingin-grey-sweater On our last hike together the views were spectacular but my was it ever steep. hiking-gold-mineOn the upward trail I had to do parts of it a hundred steps at a time and then stop to catch my breath and on the downward trail I admit I had to hold my brother’s hand in sections where there were lots of loose rocks and a very steep descent.  We hiked nearly ten kilometers and most of it was up or down. ken-on-trailI am sorry to have lost my hiking buddy now that my brother is gone.  My sister is coming tomorrow however and I think she might be willing to hike too.  First though I will have to get new running shoes.  I wore my old ones out while hiking with my brother. 

Other posts……..

Hiking the Trail of a Ruthless Warrior

Hiking Diamond Head


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Wanted! Contingency Plans

We were late and we knew it!

 “I thought you two might have gotten lost or hurt on the mountain,” Dave said when we finally found him.

Last weekend Dave was playing in a baseball tournament with his team The Coral Sands Castaways.  My brother and I dropped him off at the ball park and drove to a nearby recreation area to hike the Wind Cave Trail.

I’d hiked it once before and didn’t think it would take us that long.  We had arranged to pick Dave up at the Coral Sands Trailer Court after the game where he and his teammates would retire to a picnic area for refreshments after their hard work on the diamond. 

Starting our hike in good spirits

We started our hike in good spirits

My brother and I started off down the trail in good spirits, but soon a burst of rain, then thunder and finally lightening forced us to turn back.  hiking-in-red-shirtAfter waiting in the car for about thirty minutes, the sun came out and we decided to give the hike another try.  I thought we still had plenty of time.  We didn’t!  hiking-to-wind-caves-2The trail was much longer than I’d thought, a little slippery because of the rain and pretty steep near the end.  resting-in-the-wind-caveBy the time we reached the wind caves at the top I looked at my watch and knew we were going to be at least a half hour late picking up Dave and we’d really have to push ourselves to get off the trail before dark.  We went as fast as we could on the downward trip even though two more cloud bursts pretty much soaked us and it was getting cold. 

When we arrived at the trailer court to pick up Dave it was pitch dark, raining and there were no ball players sitting at picnic tables anywhere. How would we find Dave?  He hadn’t given us a trailer number, he didn’t have his phone and we didn’t even know the last names of any of his team mates who lived in the trailer court.  So we drove slowly up and down the streets looking for other cars with Canadian licence plates since we knew Dave’s fellow players were Canadians like us. Finally my brother heard someone shouting, “Stop” and “Hey there”.  It was Dave.  He’d been looking out the window of one of the trailers and had seen us drive by.  

He wasn’t very happy we were so late and had been worried we’d had an accident.  We were cold and wet and not that happy to be facing a forty minute ride home in that state so it was pretty quiet till we got back to our house where a hot supper of Dave’s homemade chili and a couple glasses of wine set things to rights. 

ken-marylou-hike-hieroglyhpic-trailThe next hike my brother and I took was to the Hieroglyphic Trail and we made sure after dropping Dave off at the golf course for 18 holes with his friend Eric to give ourselves plenty of time to get to the trail, hike it, and be back to pick Dave up on time. It was a beautiful sunny day and the hike was great. But wouldn’t you know it we had another snafu with pick up because Dave hitched a ride home with his friend Eric and we didn’t know that and sat waiting at the golf course for him for 45 minutes. By 7:00 however we were all around the table enjoying barbequed pork loin and roasted portebello mushrooms my brother served up from the grill. We ended the day in the hot tub!

Since we only have one car and are each doing our own thing during some of our time here in Arizona and since our phones only work where there is wifi, Dave has suggested we probably need contingency plans whenever we need to rendezvous. I think he is probably right. 

Other posts……..

Honest and Real and Messy

Hiking With The Driedgers

MaryLou’s Castle

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Connecting with Burton Cummings

800px-burton_cummingsWhat a great show!  We went to hear Burton Cummings, star of Winnipeg’s own Guess Who last night.  He was playing at the Mesa Regal Resort and thanks to our friends Ric and Helen we were able to get tickets.  For two hours Burton played hit after hit.  I thought I would know a few of the songs he performed but I recognized every one and could sing along with many.  

He did American Woman, Break It To Them Gently, These Eyes, Share the Land, Stand Tall, Running Back to Saskatoon, Hand Me Down World, No Sugar, Clap for the Wolfman and Laughing to name a few.  Burton played the keyboard, flute, harmonica and guitar. And he can still sing pretty darn well for someone who is 69.

My brother who was at the concert with me and is a little more music savvy than I am said Burton’s accomplished band was able to recreate many of the songs so they sounded exactly as they were originally recorded. 

burton-cummings-ticketBurton was surprised to discover just how many of his hometown fans were in attendance when he asked for a show of hands of Canadians and then Winnipegers who were in the crowd. He began talking about his childhood in Winnipeg’s northend and mentioned that he went to Luxton School which was built in 1907. 


Luxton School- photo Winnipeg School Division

In my work as a university faculty advisor I often visit Luxton School and when I was in university myself Luxton was where I did my student teaching placement for the Early Childhood Education program which involved a classmate and I setting up and running a nursery school in the basement of Luxton School. My brother said his 98-year-old mother-in-law was a former Luxton student.  the-family-at-royal-canoe

I was reminded too during the concert of the debut for the album Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit for my son’s band Royal Canoe which took place in none other than the Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg.  royal-canoe-burton-cummings

Talk about connections!

Other posts…….

Arizona Opry

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