Sunday, May 29, 2011

Home at last!

It's Sunday morning, the early morning sun's rays have just hit the bank behind the house, bringing the blooming cholla to brilliance. Dachshund's beside me in the recliner, baroque music coming out of the laptop via Pandora and it's peaceful.

Last week seemed to go quickly. One thing we did was catch the "other" Heard Museum, the one in Scottsdale. In addition to the other artwork, I loved this sculpture of a woman and child, with a complementary Navajo rug behind. Unfortunately, I didn't the names of either of the artists.

We did do a little celebrating ... 37th-month anniversary lunch at P.F. Chang's and a great dine-out on the eve of Sandy's last treatment ... at Baskin Robbins!

On Friday, Sandy got her last zap, got the ring the bell that signifies completion of treatment, checked out of the Sleep Inn, where we've been treated so well, and cut a trail out of the Phoenix smog for home.

As we were hauling stuff in from the car, Sandy opened the drapes and called me over ... the cholla we've been watching bud and begin to bloom was in full glory - a brilliant welcome home!

The deer have all come by and we're watching the curve-billed thrashers patiently tend their nest in the cholla. It's hot here, but not like Phoenix, and the air is way better! So far, we've been fairly comfortable just by opening windows and letting the breeze blow through.

Yesterday we took some cards up to the Hearst Gallery in Piños Altos and then looked in on the Blues Festival, one of the two biggest events of the Silver City year. My god, what a crowd!

It's a free concert at Gough Park on the north end of downtown Silver City and there were thousands of people there! And it was hot, so we toured the booths, listened a bit and headed back to the coolness of the house. tv

Monday, May 23, 2011

Last week!

I mean this IS the last week, though the pictures are from last week (as in the week past ... you know what I mean!).

We had a wonderful turn of events last week. Cacti we had been watching at the entrance to the Mayo Clinic hospital in Phoenix were getting readier and readier to bloom. So, we headed out a little early for the radiation one morning ... and there they were! A variety of cereus, I think, all in glorious bloom (second pic from bottom) ... and wilting by midday and gone the next day. What a thrill to see these beautiful, complex blooms!

Another day, when it was a little cooler, we went down to the Desert Botanical Gardens and had another wonderful day. The bee at the bottom is doing his pollinator business in a prickly pear blossom.

Sandy is holding up well (four more zaps to go) but it was good that it was a cool day. So much to see!

The naturalists of the breakfast table are now watching the blooms open on the cholla behind the house AND the curve-billed thrashers nesting in that cholla. We've watched them build the nest and now they're alternating sitting on the three eggs in the nest. Can't tell him from her, so this is "it."

Our weekends home between Phoenix stays always seem short, but this time we added some items. Saturday we helped at the Fort Bayard Open House in the afternoon; I liked the image of the lady walking the parade ground. That night, since the Rapture didn't occur, we went to the Seedboat Gallery, which has an outdoor enclosed courtyard, and listened to Gary Emerson's illustrated talk on "Our Magnificent Universe." And it WAS magnificent in terms of heavenly pictures, with the heavens above us, live music and artworks all around us. BUT, programs that start at 9 p.m. are a little late for us old folks ... we're still feeling it!

And in addition to the thrashers and the ants and the bees in and around the lovely cholla, deer come to drink next to it. And the mini-crocodile scampers away from it and onto the house!

Today we took the high road to Phoenix, through Mule Creek and Clifton and Safford and Globe. Just before we turned off on 70, out beyond Buckhorn, Sandy espied a herd of javelinas right beside the road. We did a quick u-turn and got to watch them run up a draw, where they crossed under the highway in a culvert and went on over the hill. TV

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Over the hump

Okay, we (finally) have a complaint about Mayo!

Not really, but we've been watching two cactus wrens build a nest in a paloverde tree in front of the Mayo Clinic hospital when Sandy is getting her radiation treatment, right where we park. We drive in and they flit in and out, industriously carrying twigs and growing the structure.

Granted, it's not in a cactus, where a proper cactus wren nest ought to be, and it's not a thing of beauty, incorporating pieces of gauze from (?) and tissues we learned were nabbed from the box at the valet stand in front of the hospital. But, they worked hard at it and it had a certain ... character.

We arrived this morning and the nest was gone. The birdies still bringing twigs and straws to the same paloverde tree, but there was nothing there ... nada.

I suppose there might have been a health hazard from some of the construction materials, and a marvel of architecture it was not, but we feel sympathy for the bird couple that worked so hard and so long. My hope and expectation is that they will rebuild ... and be allowed to be successful in their parenting efforts. They've sure tried hard enough!

Oh, and us? Sandy had number 13 of her scheduled 20 today, so we're at hump day on the week and well over the hump on the program! We wandered off to the Promenade mall (after lunch at the Village Inn on Free-Pie Wednesday) and safely parked among the BMWs, Mercedes, Lexus (Lexi?), Jaguars, Chryslers, etc. Nordstrom's Rack was our goal ... lotsa stuff in there, including what seemed an unusual number of guys shopping for clothes. It did occur to me that the clientele looked a little different than we're used to seeing at Walmart, as did the parking lot. Rain off and on through the afternoon and some wind. Cool day in Phoenix and we hope that moisture lasts till the clouds drift over Silver City! tv

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Halfway there and going strong

Well, Sandy's radiation treatments are half over. Her assessment with the doctor Thursday came up roses; everything's going fine! Two more weeks to go.

A schedule of driving over on Monday and returning on Friday is working out pretty well, except I have trouble remembering what time it is. Arizona doesn't go on daylight savings time, so it's an hour earlier in AZ than in NM, and we're going back and forth regularly. Come June it'll all settle down.

Our lodgings at the Sleep Inn in Scottsdale are fine - Sandy got a good rate, nice pool, we get the same room, facilities and breakfast are satisfactory, close to the Mayo, etc. - but it's always nice to get back to sleep in our own bed, with the windows open instead of processed air. The deer have ambled by, the resident jackrabbit just went down the slope and the birds are busy. I'm watching the dawn arrive beside the dog in the recliner, with a view of the birds on the slope behind the house.

At the base of the slope, there's a little rocked-in pond, with a waterfall. Next to that is a big cholla that we can see from the dining table. For weeks, I've been watching the buds form on the cholla. They grow, and grow, and grow. The bottom picture is how one set of buds looked before we left Monday morning. Actually, the bud clusters are fascinating for their symmetry and intricacy. The top picture is the three blossoms that had (finally) opened yesterday.

I've noticed that, as the buds were swelling, more and more ants were on the cholla. Yesterday we noticed that the curve-billed thrashers that hang around the little pool and the cholla were building a nest in the cholla. Aha! Mother Nature's plan is for the insect-eating thrasher to nest in the cholla at just the time when the cholla's natural cycle makes it most attractive to the bugs the birds eat! And we get to be appreciative spectators to the whole cycle.

We did venture out Tuesday to the north of Phoenix, ostensibly to get pictures of saguaro blossoms. Not having an extension ladder or a telescoping boom, we didn't get much! Maybe next week we'll find a location where we can get above the saguaro and shoot down into it.

We did enjoy exploring Carefree and Cave Creek, though, especially the latter. We wandered the galleries and shops, had a delightful lunch al fresco at the cantina shown (the photographer just inside the arch is the other half of FeVa Fotos) and enjoyed catching the sun on other cactus blooms.

The crown of yucca blooms is outside the Mayo Clinic hospital where Sandy's radiation treatments are done. Their landscaping is beautiful and there are succulents blooming everywhere.

So, the sun is up and I need to be, too. Today is get-ready-to-go-back-to-Phoenix day, plus meeting for worship, followed by a committee meeting. Plus mowing the lawn for the first time; Sandy got some trimming done on the roses yesterday. Life is good! tv

Friday, May 6, 2011

Four down, 16 to go

It's Friday in Phoenix (and many other places, too). We're toward the end of week one of our radiation vacation.

We hit a speed bump in the road Monday, when the Dr. decided new measurements were needed, so no radiation that day. That was okay, but it put us off schedule on a program that was due to end just before Memorial Day. Fortunately, on Thursday, Dr. Wong offered to do a treatment on Saturday (tomorrow), since he's on call that day. Others on the Mayo staff told us later they've never heard of that being done before, so we're fortunate. We jumped at it; it makes it a short weekend, but we do get to pick up the dog and the mail and feed the cats and spend two nights in our own bed, plus we get back on schedule to finish by Memorial Day. So, all is good.

We used Monday to visit the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix. A delight! I think I was more impressed with the sculptures than with any museum I've been to before. A couple examples are shown. We were fortunate to take a tour with a very good interpreter; it was nice to see school groups touring the museum as well. Lunch in the Courtyard Café was delightful, too; a bowl of red gazpacho in a setting with shade, gentle breezes and the sound of trickling water.

One of the enjoyable things about the Heard is the inclusion of Indian art that is today and tomorrow, not a repetition of yesterday. The mudheads sliding down what appears to be a curved surfboard is an example.

Probably half of the pictures we're taking are of flowers. This one is an almost fluorescent cholla bloom, but many others are attracting our lenses, too.

Tuesday we started out to do flower photography north of Phoenix. But, it was already hot, and the light wasn't good, and there was a big mall we hadn't explored, and there was a cineplex with a movie we wanted to see ... so we wound up going to a movie ("Water for Elephants") at 10:30 a.m., lunching on popcorn and being totally on vacation.

We hit another mall this morning, the Promenade mall, right across N. Scottsdale Road from where we're staying. There's a free outdoor jazz performance there this evening, so we plan to go over for it, maybe have supper at Benihana beforehand. Last night, Cinco de Mayo, we walked over to Carlos O'Brien's ... it was a zoo. Glad we weren't out driving on "Drinko de Mayo!"

The SleepInn in Scottsdale is really working for us. We hit the pool every day for exercise, plus there's an exercise room. An adequate breakfast room (good early coffee is the main thing!) and a nice room at special rates for Mayo patients, all only 10 minutes' drive from the Mayo. Our home away from home for a month. tv