Wednesday, February 14, 2018

From Plain to Beautiful

My daughter is a gourd artist and does beautiful work with gourds. Someone asked me how she did it and I told her it takes a lot of work just to get the gourd ready. I know this because once my daughter had me wash some gourds and it took about an hour to clean, scrape, and get one gourd ready. As I wandered through the fair grounds in Casa Grande, Arizona where they have an annual gourd show,  I came upon a poster of the different kinds of gourds. This surprised me because I had no idea there were that many different shaped gourds.
 There were about twenty large bins with the different sizes of gourds ranging from small to large people to buy.  When the gourds are purchased, they then have to be soaked to loosen the skin and washed by scraping to make them smooth. And that is hard work!

What amazes me is that even though there are about two hundred exhibitors, there aren't many duplicates.  Every artist has his or her unique way of creating art.

Of course, I see some gourds I like, but my favorite are the ones my daughter creates.  Below are a few of the many she has made and sold. This year her hedgehogs were a big hit and I can't believe I did not get a picture of them. I did manage to steal a picture that my daughter had posted of her many hedgehogs. She even had to leave her post, while her husband took over the booth, to work on completing a hedgehog that a person had requested!

The Running of the Gourds Festival is a fun and exciting place to hang out. There is continuous music; blue grass and Mariachi. A country and western singer plus a Native American dancer performing on stage for every one's entertainment! Many food booths send delicious aromas wafting about and places to buy drinks kept visitors full and happy.

"In gourd art there are no
mistakes just unique creations!"

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Big House

Recently I was in Casa Grande, Arizona, to attend the annual gourd festival and about twenty miles from the show are the Casa Grande Ruins. I met some friends from Arvada who are living in Tucson for the winter and we decided to visit the ruins.

First we needed to find a place to have lunch and the small town of Coolidge did not have a lot of restaurants that looked interesting. We drove by once and saw a Galloping Goose with lots of motorcycles parked in front, McDonald's, Roberto's that looked like a drive but none seemed very appetizing. Reaching the end of the town, we turned around and drove back down the street and found Tag's CafĂ©. There were a few cars parked around it and we figured it must be an okay place! It was an excellent choice with tasty food. Two ate burritos, two ate taco salads and I had a low calorie plate. (One meat patty, tomato slices, and cottage cheese on lettuce!)  I sprinkled some hot sauce on the meat and really enjoyed my lunch!

On full stomachs we arrived at the National Monument of Casa Grande Ruins. What fun to have my picture taken at the entrance with the huge Saguaro cactus.

The information I read was that the Sonoran desert people had built the ruins around the 1300's. We watched a movie explaining how the desert was made to function by a series of canals. Because the dirt in the area is known as caliche (cement type dirt) and is very hard, the people had to manually dig with sticks to form the canals for irrigation. It took them years and when finished, there were miles and miles of the narrow streams diverted from the main river.

By 1694, Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino made entries in his journal about the ruins. No one has figured out what happened to the original inhabitants of the ruins. In 1892 President Benjamin Harrison declared the Casa Grande Ruins as the First Prehistoric and Cultural Reserve in the United States. In 1918 President Woodrow Wilson made the ruins a National Monument.

Casa Grande is a four story building and no one knows the reason why it was built. Sometimes it is referred to as The Palace. The Hohokam which is not a Native American tribe but means dead or all used up is given credit for the building of the ruins. The ranger explaining the ruins had a chuckle in her voice when she mentioned that fact! It is believed that advanced engineers and scientists may have played a part in the building of the structure because of the placement of the windows and doors which capture the sun in the morning and by the intricate irrigation systems.

That made me wonder about other ruins I have visited like Machu Picchu in Peru which is believed to have been built around 1450 by the Incas and the area around Tulum, Mexico which seems to have been built around 1100-1200 by the Mayans. Either way, ruins give us an insight of what came before us. Maybe extraterrestrial beings did live on our planet because most people of the past seemed to have known much about archeology, infrastructure, have a way of writing, architecture, agricultural awareness, economics, art and weaving.

A Fun Day With My Friends

Monday, February 12, 2018

Coincidence or Miracle

When I am on vacation, one of the first things I do is look for a Catholic church in whatever city I happen to be in. In Casa Grande I found one Catholic church among many other denominations. St. Anthony of Padua was located on a street that did not sound familiar. Even though I thought it would be nice to attend mass I did not want to go searching for the church.

On the second morning I was in Casa Grande I thought I would take a drive and see if I could see some of the scenery I had seen the day before when I was lost. I really wanted to take a picture of the cemetery, the houses with clothes hanging on out side lines, and the many Saguaros I had seen.
I drove across town, found a busy street and turned until I hit Highway 8. Sure enough, before long, along the side of the brush covered hills, I found the Saguaros. The only trouble was that I could not find a road that would lead me to them. After driving about twenty miles and not seeing the sad village I had seen while I was lost and not being able to find the cemetery, I drove toward Casa Grande.

Seeing a large park, I drove down a side street and saw a sign letting me know I could get tourist information. I wondered what other things of interest might be in town but even though I drove all the way around I could not find the building with tourist Information. I went down a street, hoping it was in the right direction, and to my surprise, there was St. Anthony of Padua church.  I pulled into the parking lot, got my camera and walked to the front of the church. The church was locked but I did get some pictures outside. It made me happy to see the southwestern typed of architecture with cacti and palm tree for decoration.

 I don't know about anyone else's thoughts, but to find the church without looking for it, to me was a miracle. I suppose that is what life is all about; you search for something but God lets you find some thing else that gives you as much pleasure. Trusting in God can sometimes be difficult, but I am beginning to believe He will always lead me to where I need to be or where he wants me to be!

"You need not be afraid
of where you are going
when you know God is
going with you."

Saguaro Cactus Lives On After Death

On my recent trip to Arizona to the Running of the Gourds annual festival, one of the exciting parts of my trip was getting lost. I was in a cute rental KIA and not sure where the turn off to Casa Grande, my final destination, could be, so I turned at a sign that showed, Casa Grande. I asked my phone for help and realized it would not help me because none of the streets had signs on them. I did pass gigantic Saguaro Cacti on my journey and marveled at how they all seemed to be making signs with their tall, prickly limbs! Many looked as if they were giving the middle finger salute!

The area I was in seemed depressed, with lots of dirt and dust. It may have been a reservation but I had no way of telling because there were no signs. The homes had no grass, just dirt surrounding the homes. I did not see any cars or people. Not one patch of green could be seen anywhere. When I passed a cemetery I was filled with a sadness because the large area had no rhyme or reason. Plots with dusty flowers in a desert like area had graves scattered any which way with no planning. Desolate and lonely would describe the area with some crosses tipped over, everything dusty, and swirls of sand blowing over the graves.

After about an hour of driving through deserted areas, yet all on paved roads, I saw signs for Sacaton, Coolidge, Florence and still I had no idea where Casa Grande was located. After what seemed forever I found a road that lead me to Casa Grande and was happy to see a modern town and the motel where I would be staying.

It did not take me long to connect with my daughter and son-in-law at the Pinal Fairgrounds and they told me about the Apache Moccasins or Saguaro Boots.

I learned that the Saguaro cactus is a good place for the Gila woodpecker to make its nest. The woodpecker makes a round hole near the top of the cactus, burrows down and hollows out an area for its nest. The cactus then secretes a sap all around the hollowed out area. As the woodpecker moves on sometimes an owl will take the nest over. Once the cactus dies, it can become the home to snakes, scorpions and spiders.

"The Saguaro makes a hard shell to protect 
the area where the woodpecker has
dug to make its nest and after the
cactus dies the inside covered in
lignin last much longer in the 
shape of a shoe or boot."
Taken from the Internet

The folks in the booth next door to my daughter's had a few odd looking "boots." I was told that they go on hikes to find the dead cactus and get the boots out which can be used for other birds once it is attached to a tree or wall. I did not find the boot to be an attractive piece of art, but was told many persons were buying the boot. A question I should have asked would have been, why?

In the picture above I am standing near the giant Saguaro and about midway, a hole has been made by a woodpecker for its nest. I have seen holes in cacti before but never knew why they were there, and now I know!

The older I get, the more respect I have for Mother Nature. Recycling in nature is a natural thing and these Saguaro Boots are just one example!

Interesting facts about Saguaro cactus:
Slow growing; in ten years only several inches tall
Thirty years; several feet
Can live to be 200 years old
Is 40-70 feet tall
Branches grow when plant is 75-100 years old

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Number One

"One represents unity and oneness.
When you see the number one or
find a penny, it can be a loving
reminder that you are one with
your angels, loved ones and guides.
You are connected, protected and
all is well."
From the Internet

As I sat in the chair to have my blood drawn at Kaiser Permanente, I happened to see a penny tucked away between the equipment. I asked the nurse why there was a penny resting among the tubes and paraphernalia . She glanced over and said, "I have no idea. I've never seen that penny before and I have been working here most of the day."

I smiled and said, "It's my son. You see, ever since he passed away, whenever I find a penny I know his spirit is around. Do you mind if I take it?"

"Not at all," she said, "I believe in spirits. One day after my grandmother had passed away, I happened to be working and saw her walk in. Same hair, same walk and same smile and I wanted to throw my arms around her. Yet, when she got closer I  knew it wasn't her.  For an instant, God allowed me to see my grandmother."

When I picked up the penny, there was a cross cut out of the penny. This is the second penny I have found with a cross!

The nurse and I agreed that mysterious things happen and we are fortunate to believe and understand when something good is placed in our path. I know my son is near me and he lets me know by leaving a penny for me to find!

"Don't pass by that penny
when you're feeling blue.
It may be a penny from
heaven that an Angel 
has tossed to you!"
C. Mashburn

Monday, February 5, 2018

An Interesting Phone Call

Lately, my blood pressure seems to be higher than normal and even though I try to stay away from doctors, I thought I should call Kaiser Permanente to see what they thought about my readings. A nice receptionist answered the phone and told me that the blood pressure readings were not high enough to cause concern, but, just to make sure, she would transfer me to a nurse on duty to see if an appointment should be made or if my e-mail information was sufficient to handle my problem by e-mail.

She put me on hold and every ten minutes or so she would come on the line to tell me that the nurses were busy and if I wanted to continue holding. I told her I would hang on. On one of her check-ins
she apologized for the length of time I was waiting and told me that Monday mornings are bad because it seems that everyone needs a nurse on Monday!

About forty-five minutes later, the nurse answered my call. I could barely understand her because her voice seemed to be coming from the bottom of a barrel. It had a nasal tone so I asked her if she was all right. She assured me she was and we continued our conversation. Before too long she began to cough. I again said, "You sound sick, are you okay?" Her answer was, "I've got that crud that is going around."  I told her about some of my friends and how it seems to last for months.

She said that in December she got sick and then seemed to get better. Then in January the flu/cold came back with a vengeance. I could hear her blowing her nose and coughing as I waited to see what she would tell me about my problem. I also told her it was a good thing she was not in an office with other employees because she sounded awful. She agreed.

An appointment was made, I told her to "take care of herself," and that I hoped she would soon be well. She thanked me and began coughing and wheezing again. I thanked her and we hung up. I felt bad for the poor lady because she really sounded bad, but I was glad she was able to answer the phone and get me an appointment.

The sick leading the sick was how I looked at my phone call to my health care provider.

"Nurses may not be angels,
but they are the next best thing.
"Even a sick nurse can console
and bring one out of a
deep, dark hole!"
E. Moscoso

In The Style of the Seventies

Clothing ideas change, new fads come into mode, and some are repeated every few years. A saying many of my friends have told me is, "Hang on to your outfits, because they may come back again."
I am a pretty conservative dresser and my style of sweater with a white collar has never gone out of style. When I would see the "look" I liked it and to this day I continue wearing a white collar
underneath a sweatshirt, sweater, or t-shirt. Instead of wearing a blouse underneath my outer sweater, I purchase "dickie's" and they work quite well.

One time when my grandchildren were over and my son and I were discussing "dickie's," my grandchildren had no idea what we were talking about. Instead, they got the giggles thinking the word meant something else! I explained how in the past, these collars or sweaters were put under a sweater or shirt giving a layered look without the bulk. I remember when I attended Regis College in the late fifties I wore a white collar underneath my school sweater.

 Above are pictures of me beginning in 1959, 1997, 2000, 2017 and 2018 with my white collar!

Yesterday, I was given a picture from the early seventies showing all three, father, son and daughter, in plaids! The outfits that they are all wearing seem so outlandish in this day and age. When I showed my granddaughter the photo, she said, "Hey, those would be right in style today!" She must know something I don't and maybe this is what college students are wearing today. I doubt it but I will let my blog readers make their own determination whether these styles are back or will ever come back!

As a side, I did look up plaid pants on the Internet and was surprised to see that Brooks Brothers, Macy's, J.C. Penny and Nordstrom carry plaid pants and they are quite pricey; ranging from a hundred dollars down to thirty-five depending where you shop!

"Fashion is a form
of ugliness so intolerable
that we have to alter it
every six months."
Oscar Wilde