Sunday, May 31, 2009

Monkey Island

When we were kids growing up in Southeast Kansas, we thought Monkey Island at the Independence Zoo was the greatest! I was driving past it today and decided to stop and take a look.

I think the monkey castle was built as a WPA project. The stone house is surrounded by a moat to keep our poor little captive friends from escaping. When we were kids, there seemed to be a lot more monkeys. Maybe if I'd had peanuts, I might have seen a little more excitement. One little guy was doing repeated back flips today, but I couldn't catch him with the camera.

The moat surrounding the castle is filled with snapping turtles and swans. Here we have the Tortoise Lounge.

Snapping turtles.

And one of the beautiful swans! I guess the snapping turtles and swans are security for the bad boys -- the monkeys. : )

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another Antique Roadshow!

Well, I'm off in my rent a wreck to do some antiquing this morning while I'm in this part of the country. That would be in the corner where Kansas/Oklahoma/Missouri join. By the way, ain't it a good lookin' car! So I thought I'd post a few photos from my antiquing trip to Miami/Globe last weekend. I'll take my camera today and try and take some photos along the way.

What's this guy's name? I think I missed him on Saturday mornings! Seriously, anyone know?

But we all recognize this guy!

Thank ya, thank ya very much.

I love anything that's shiny red!

I'll have some of them french fried potaters! (Actually, maybe I should pass!)

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Bunch of Hot Air!

These guys have been driving me nuts for months! Well, only in the sense that I've been trying to get photos and they never get close enough. I hear the whooshing, but they always veer in a different direction as they approach. They launch from the regional park across the main road. Some of them have been making a daredevil game out of dipping up and down in the lakes in our neighborhood. When they do that, I almost root for them to sink.

Anyway, Monday morning, I just happened to be peeking out the back door when I heard that sound! They came in low, barely over the rooftops. I ran and retrieved my camera and was out there in my red nightie snapping photos. Out in the open. Wow! Got 'em! Then Craig happened to point out that there was a large group hooting and hollering in one of the balloons and a guy had a telephoto lens snapping pictures of me! OMG! I'll probably be the featured joke in the next issue of Balloon Life Magazine. The old hag in her red nightie!

This balloon had the perv snapping photos of me!

Craig said this basket was loaded with people. They actually dipped right over our backyard, but by that time, I was hiding under the covered patio to get away from the photographer.

This balloon was a little more polite and kept its distance.

But I love this photo when it was almost directly overhead.

There's something in a flying horse,There's something in a huge balloon.
William Wordsworth

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kitties and Bunnies!

I'm in the Land of Oz now and the weather's pretty crispy for late May. I say that, but I remember how disappointing Memorial Day could be when Opening Day at the pool was cancelled due to foul weather.

Craig and I took a day trip up to Miami, Arizona on Saturday. (Don't tell him I squealed, but he got pulled over by a state trooper and issued a warning. That'll teach us to leave town!) Miami, an old mining town undergoing a transformation to antique/artsy mecca, had the coolest planters and garden junk. Here's some photos from the trip.

By the way, I immediately thought of my aunt when I saw all this stuff. She loved kitties, bunnies, horses -- practically all flora and fauna with the exception of squirrels (and maybe possums).

Oops. Almost forgot the rooster and the pigs!

When pigs fly!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another Memorial

I had planned another post for today. A funny little post about being caught out in my nightgown and being photographed from afar. The thing I least expected to be doing was posting another memorial tribute. This time to my aunt, my father's sister. My Aunt Betty. She would have gotten a huge laugh out of the story. My only regret is that I didn't call her this weekend before she died. I made a mental note to do that because I know Memorial Day is tough for her. But I got busy and she died before I could make that last call.

She was a second mother to me. Actually, more like a best friend. She used to say I was the little girl she never had, although she had two wonderful boys who were the best sons! And the best daughter-in-law a mom could ever hope for. But she and I were pals for life. My North, South, East, and West. The person I could confide in when times were good and when times were tough. And she always had the support and the answers. And the sense of humor to pull me up out of the dumps. We'd laugh about it all! We could take a long car trip and laugh all day!

The trips we took together and the things we did! When I lived in K.C., we'd drop Michael off at the all day pre-school and peel out of the parking lot on a mad dash out to the country antique stores. Antiquing was one of our favorite pursuits together. She lived in Vermont for a few years and I'd fly to see her in the fall and we'd head out on the leaf-peeper antiques road show. We had the same tastes in antiques and gardening.

She also loved the beach. How I wish I could have taken her to Isla! She would have fallen in love with it. I made an album of photos for her after every trip and collected shells and seaglass so she could travel vicariously from her armchair. I used to visit her in South Padre when she was wintering there. We'd spend hours beachcombing for shells. We'd get up before dawn to pick the olives (not the tree variety) as they rolled in with the tide. And that shrimp salad down at the Jetty Restaurant was the best thing we'd ever put in our mouths. Of course, we said that about everything we ate whether it was the prime rib in Shelburne or the shrimp and peel in Padre. And she had the sweet tooth too. She'd bring me creme puffs when I was little, and we'd go to Pie Day at Lori's Bakery whenever I managed a trip to Oswego.

Birds were her favorite hobby. She had an elaborate set up of bird feeders and spent hours everyday feeding and watching the birds. Orioles, woodpeckers, bluebirds, redbirds -- they all flocked to her backyard. I loved sitting in her sunroom watching the birds come to us. She had a beautiful view down over a hill. She called it an infinity view. When the river flooded below, she was lakeview. She kept binoculars handy and watched the deer, coyotes, etc... in the fields below.

So today's a very sad day. One of the saddest since my dad died. I'd been expecting this phone call for awhile. In fact, I had a premonition a few months ago and couldn't go to work until I made sure she was still there. Her health had been failing for the past few years. Her heart was bad and I know she felt awful, but when you talked to her on the phone, you could rarely detect it. Because she was one of the most 'with it' people I've ever known. She was such a life force! And how she will be missed.

Aunt Betty's the little girl in the oval on the top left. My dad's in the top right, with my grandmother and her sister on the bottom. These were tin ovals with mirrors inserted on the back.

She lived a long good life. We just weren't ready to see her go. She came into the world on Groundhog Day and left us on Memorial Day.

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Dad

I talked to my mother on Friday and she had made the trek over to the cemetery 45 miles away in my little hometown to place new flowers on my dad's and grandparent's graves. When I think of Memorial Day, it always reminds me of the big fat white peonies that she'd cut from the yard for that task. Since I've lived across the country from family for most of my life, my mother tends to that duty by herself. But when I was a child, we would spend the week before Memorial Day visiting all the graves of relatives in our area placing flowers.

But back to my dad. He died in May 2001 of Lewy Body/Parkinson's. The one thing that eats at my heart is that he had to go through that hell in his last few years of life. Lewy Body is the Parkinson's form of dementia. It's like a fast-acting Alzheimer's. But one has to focus on the good times because after all, we're all just passing through. As one friend of mine likes to say, no one gets out of this game alive. Since it's Memorial Day, I thought it would be an appropriate time to again post some photos of his life in WWII.

I know some of you have already seen these photos, but I love looking at them! My dad was stationed in Pearl Harbor during WWII and served as a Navy medic in the base hospital. (He was great about first aid when we were kids!) Although he didn't see actual combat, he saw the wounded. So I'm sure that left a large impression on his psyche. He had so many fond memories of Navy life on Oahu during WWII. A small town boy from Kansas who'd rarely traveled out of state was suddenly transported a world away to the tropics! I'm sure he worked hard and it was war, but life off base was spent touring the island and enjoying the nightlife of Honolulu. So the pictures I have here are of the good times!

In the late 70's, my mom and dad took a trip back to Hawaii to visit all the old haunts. It's too bad they only got to go once, but that was the trip of a lifetime for my dad!

On base with one of his best buds. Wish my dad was still here to tell me the guy's name.

Love this one! My dad was such a character!

Koko Head

Out at night!

This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad and I. I'm guessing he'd just gotten home from work because he's in his office (engineer) clothes. He was a civil engineer who designed and built roads and bridges for the Kansas Department of Transportation -- KDOT. Before the war and joining the Navy, he played football at Oklahoma State his freshman year. Then After WWII, he went back to school and got his engineering degree from Kansas State.

Hope everyone has a nice Memorial Day. I'm going to try and stay away from the 'tater salad'.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day -- A Time to Remember

These two little framed mementos have been hanging out in my guest bedroom since Craig's mom gave them to us in April 2008. She seemed to be shedding a lot of belongings when we were there and talking about how that might be the last time she saw us. We thought it was strange at the time because she wasn't ill. But she did subsequently die this last January after a major heart attack in December. I think some people must have some type of premonition.

Anyway, these were mementos given to Craig's grandmother (his father's mother) when her sons were serving in the Army in WWII. On the back of each it says

As a token of our loyalty and respect to the member of your family who serves in the Armed Forces of America. Courtesy of Hulpieu-Morgan Funeral Home, Dodge City.

The two were evidently given at different times. The stars represent how many sons a mother had serving at the time in WWII. For example, Craig's grandmother was referred to as a two-star and then a three-star mother because of her sons' service. I'd never seen these framed star mementos before, and I was thrilled when his mom sent them home with us.

I thought Memorial Day weekend would be the perfect time for this post when we're all remembering our loved ones who served. Craig's dad served in the South Pacific fighting the Japanese in the islands. He never talked much about it, but I do know that he never cared for Asian food after that. In fact, he objected to it! Recently, at Craig's mom's funeral, his uncle (father's brother) told us that actually when Craig's dad came home from the war, he was really ill with malaria for quite awhile. By the time he recovered, he had a really hard time finding a decent job because all the other returning soldiers had already scooped up the good jobs. That's something we'd never heard him mention. Being the daughter of a WWII veteran, I think a lot of us Baby Boomers never gave much thought to the hardship our dads endured at such a young age so far away from home. I remember as a child hanging out at the VFW when my dad went to meetings. I had no idea what VFW really meant. Below are a couple of photos of Craig's dad. I'll post some of my dad on Memorial Day.

Craig's Dad in the South Pacific

The Brothers McHugh shortly after the war ended.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stand By Me

Love this song and the video! What a great Saturday! We were 98% done on our project at work Friday, so they gave us the option to not come back in on Tuesday morning since we'd probably only work a few hours. They didn't have to ask me twice! I could hardly concentrate to get anything done for the final hour after I got that message! I was kind of surprised that it was only me and another woman who opted out, but I guess that has a lot to do with the economy right now. Anyway, I'm excited to get busy around here getting everything sorted out! I'm giddy as a teenager on the first day of summer vacation! And Craig's thrilled that I'll be taking over dog walking duties in the morning so he can sleep in a half hour.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! We're hoping to take a little Arizona day trip tomorrow. Can't wait! I need to get out and explore! : )

Friday, May 22, 2009


Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Rain! All night long! And it's still raining! That would definitely be a downer for a lot of people, but not down here! Wooo hooooooo! What a relief from the endless string of 100 plus degree days!

This is celebration day. I can see life at the end of the tunnel again. Today and maybe a few hours on Tuesday and we'll be done with the current project! All that and a bag of chips!

I'm working on my 'things to do' list once again.

Clean the house! It's so bad right now. It looks like the last time I came home from Mexico and the two bachelors had been living in it for weeks without me!

Start reading again! I've got a new stack of books waiting for me. I picked up Jodi Picoult's Handle With Care and Stuart Woods' Loitering With Intent at the library today, and I'm in the middle of Adriana Trigiani's Very Valentine at the moment.

Get back to the gym! I'm shocked at the toll from sitting on my rear all day for three months. Back to the elliptical and the 8:30 a.m. circuit training class!

Find a class for making those soldered charms! I've got so many cute old black and white family pics that would be perfect for those!

Anyway, one more full day. By the way, I've busted my rear at work this week and may be up to the point where I can break even and end up making about the same amount as the last project. But what a killer. I have blister/callouses on the fingertips of my mouse hand (not to mention my fingers on that hand feel numb at times). I'm glad I'm almost done until next month! I pretty much learned to ignore The Whip and not let her get to me. She's also been staying out of the room, probably because she knows we'll be filling out evaluations today. And believe me, I'm not stupid enough to really think those are anonymous since you're logged in on a company computer!

We were laughing yesterday about who the heck they'll find to do this project next year. Maybe a whole new bunch of newbie employees? I think our whole group learned a very important lesson from this project. What was it George W. said?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Time

No real time to blog. ugh But we did watch a gripping movie last night! Taken, with Liam Neeson. In the pool on Sunday, I was thinking how great it would be if I had a camera in the lens of my eye. I would have caught the little birdie sitting on top of this birdhouse,

the guy at the Costco gas pump who had a bird land on top of his head, the beautiful field of sunflowers I rush by everyday on my drive to work, etc.... The list is endless of great photos not taken!

Hope everyone has a sunny beautiful day. We're in the grips of a record May heat wave here in Phoenix. I think today is supposed to break the long-standing record of number of days in a row over 100 degrees in May. All I know is that it's much hotter than any May since we've been here! Maybe it'll cool down by next week when I'm finally back at home for awhile. Ha ha ha. That's really funny! It's almost June in Phoenix! I must be delusional.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jacaranda and the Myrtle Incident

Another Jacaranda?

Why did I not plant one of these trees? I keep seeing them and they are so beautiful. I think this is a smaller jacaranda. I love the mimosa style greenery, and the blooms almost look like wisteria! I planted a crepe myrtle in my front yard. Actually, the landscaper did, and he got the wrong variety. It was supposed to have deep purple blooms and leaves with a darker green deeper texture. Oh well. Maybe I'll dig that sucker up and plant a jacaranda!

Crepe Myrtle

This tree always reminds me of the 'Myrtle' incident. My mother had an aunt named Myrtle. As a teenager, that was kind of an embarrassing name. I don't know why, but it didn't exactly sound trendy. (I apologize to all the Myrtle's out there reading my blog.) Anyway, one time we were shopping in the metropolis (Joplin, MO) about 40 miles from our tiny hometown. I was really self-conscious just because I was in the big city after all (not to mention I was at that awkward age). I always remember feeling like a duck out of water whenever we were in anyplace larger -- more sophisticated. Can't get much more sophisticated than Joplin after all! We were walking down the main street when suddenly, my mother started screaming MYRTLE, AUNT MYRTLE repeatedly. She had spotted her aunt (a woman I barely knew) about a block away. My brother and I both tried to hit the pavement. I think we actually ducked around a corner to get away from the embarrassment of it all. She just wouldn't stop yelling MYRTLE!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Zee Floggings Will Continue

Until Zee Project Ends.

First the bad news. On Friday, I actually had the audacity to ask the project head (The Whip), a week into the project, if we could find out what we were being paid. I mean, she asked if we had any questions! The absolute nerve of me! Well -- that set her off. I wouldn't know anything about that -- blah blah blah. Well, of course she's aware of it because she's already lost two people who refused to work under the current conditions, and she had the head of H.R. come in and quell the insurrection on Monday. The head of H.R. suddenly put in an appearance once again. We'd all had a chance to view our pay stubs online for the first two days of the project and knew we'd been had. The H.R. head admitted to having 'misspoke' on Monday when she clarified that we would be paid the site minimum. We will NOT be paid the site minimum on this project. I guess they'd been keeping that dirty little secret until our pay was deposited!

But here's the good news! The insanity will end soon. We're 50% done after only a week of floggings! So I'm hoping to be off this hell-bound train by next Friday just in time for Memorial Day weekend. For a lot of people in the room, that is a hardship because the length of the project was obviously also overestimated -- just like the pay. So people who desperately need the money in this economy will be done. But as one woman said --this project is a lose-lose situation. So thank GOD it's almost over.

Several people said they will not be returning on Monday. I'd probably do the same, but in the current economy, who knows if you'll need that opportunity again next year! Part of me pines for an all-out Norma Rae style revolt, but then again, that would only lengthen the misery for those left behind!

Towards the end of the day on Friday, The Whip ran through the room again dusting us with her negativity and wisdom. Speed up. Make some money. I'll lock you out of your computer if you go too fast and your quality falls. You should all feel lucky to HAVE a job. I guess she felt the need to grind some more salt into the wounds. I had my earplugs in (literally), but I couldn't escape her shrill little pearls. We also heard her plight as to how much money she's lost from her 401K this last year and her husband's recent layoff. Cue violins. She evidently doesn't realize the room is full of professionals with degrees laid off from jobs who are now working for pennies? As one woman later noted at break, The Whip is being paid at least double what we are and there's probably not one person in that room who doesn't have their own economic sob story at the moment. But she's special. Because she HAS the whip! The woman in the break room also confided that her own home is being auctioned June 12. I had a hard time not tearing up.

We're all supposed to return in June or July for a week on another piece of this same project. With The Whip in charge. Hmmmmmm. Once again, they said we will be paid the site's minimum and not a piece rate. Uhhhhh -- can we have that in writing please! Only in this economy can corporations get away with stuff like this! Well, maybe they've always gotten away with it in Arizona. This state is notorious for not being worker-friendly.


(if a bunch of people don't quit)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Night Lights

Ahhhhh. Another Friday night! With the end of a beastly work week, we were both looking forward to some R&R. After a quick dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, we came back and hopped on our bikes. I wanted to try a couple of sunset shots with the new camera.

On our way over to the canal, we passed the fountain pool up at the front of the neighborhood.

We arrived at the canal path just in time for me to capture a couple of photos. Phoenix has beautiful sunsets! And the Friday night sunset was fairly spectacular!

Back home, I decided to take a dip in the pool. With the current heat wave, the pool temp must be up around 90 degrees. I think the temps are supposed to be 105 this weekend, so I'm looking forward to some more pool time after the chores are done!

After our swim, we popped Last Chance Harvey into the DVD player. The movie was much better than I expected, and I loved this song from the soundtrack! Where Do We Go, by Sandrine.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Backyard Botannicals

My Mother's Day present finally arrived and I needed to try it out. So I went out in the backyard tonight. I finally upgraded cameras a bit. Still a simple point and shoot, but a great improvement in the mega pixels department. My old camera had been acting up since our last trip to Isla. Maybe a little bit of sand? Anyway, the next step will be to actually open the manual and read it!

Radiation Lantana

Torchglow Bouganvillea


And not really a flower, but I had to try the camera out on Saby!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What a Load of Crap!

No, it's not another work rant! Craig identified this as a manure spreader on our Saturday morning bike ride. Thank God it wasn't loaded! Sorry, but I just couldn't resist!

And by the way, I think the work problems are solved. We think they may have the break room bugged, or maybe the project head just detected that the natives were restless? Miss Crack the Whip was not exactly friendly, but much subdued and not a tornado of threatening behavior this morning. And there was an insurrection of the workers at the starting bell. We still really had no idea what we were actually making, and people just demanded that H.R. make an appearance and provide the information. Much to our surprise, I think they took note after several employees resigned the first day of the project due to pay objections. H.R. announced that they had decided to pay us the customary site salary. We probably won't make anything extra, but at least we now feel like we're not being cheated.

Don't worry -- be happy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Same Time Last Year

It just hit me yesterday that this same time last year, we were enjoying Isla. Here are some newly edited photos and a few favorite repeats from our 2008 May trip!

Anyway, wish I was

Lying in bed catching the sunrise!

Sunning my toes in the sand.

Enjoying my own private Happy Hour!

While watching the sunset!

Watching the colonia wake up from my favorite perch!

Cruising past the ruins on an early morning ride.

Walking the loop past the Shellhouse.

Exploring the beach on an early morning walk.

Taking a morning dip on Playa Norte.

Napping under the palms!

And watching one more glorious sunset over a plate of fish and chips at Bally Hoo!

Boo hoo. Maybe this fall!