February 28, 2009
It doesn’t seem possible that it is the end of February already! The time just seems to fly by here in Arizona. There are so many activities and events, both inside and outside the park, that one could be busy all day long, every day.
My site at Indian Skies RV Resort
However, I have been picking and choosing and still have enjoyed some interesting events. On February 14 the Canadian contingency put on a delicious roast beef dinner for the crowd. 252 people showed up, each paying $6 for a complete meal of salads, roll, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, roast beef and gravy, plus a Jello dessert with a small Canadian flag inserted into the whipped cream on top. This is a popular annual affair.
Stephen and Anna
Our table - Sandra, Penny, Doug
Native Indian Music Festival
The local national monument Casa Grande Ruins held its first ever Native Indian Music Festival from February 13 through 15. Penny, Doug, Sandra and I went on the Friday evening, stopping to view the various stalls where native Indians were demonstrating their crafts of jewelry making, pottery, basket weaving and flute making. I have always been fascinated by the haunting music of the flute and ended up buying one from Odell Borg, who gave me my first lesson as well. He showed me how to hold the instrument and how to attain the various notes. He suggested that I not look down while playing, but rather look in the mirror, and I have to admit that it made it easier to close the holes to make the appropriate note. I look forward to practising so that I might even be able eventually to play this ancient instrument. It’s a bit difficult with my arthritic fingers, but not impossible, and gives me pleasure.
Some of the more expensive flutes
On the Friday evening we sat in the seats set up at the music tent right beside the sacred ruins. We were just in time to watch Brian Hammill, a skilled hoop dancer.
Afterwards, an elder from the nearby tribe did a blessing acknowledging that we were in the presence of a structure sacred to his people. The evening program continued featuring Loren Russell, flutist and Randy Granger, playing the Hang – a type of kettle drum.
They played separately and together and as the sun set, the music added something very special to the setting. Unfortunately, Penny, Doug and Sandra had not brought jackets and retreated to the Visitor Center to keep warm. I stayed on to watch the Akimel O’odham Basket Dancers from a nearby village. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them as they danced in their bare feet. When the sun goes down, the temperature turns cold very rapidly.
My cousin Jerry and his wife Diane have again rented an apartment in Mesa, about an hour away. They live in Winnipeg, Manitoba so I don’t see them very often. They came down to my park on Sunday February 15, and after lunch we headed over to the Casa Grande American Indian Music Fest for the afternoon where we saw performances by classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala.
Loren Russell and Randy Granger performed once more as well.
This was the first attempt the rangers in the park had made in putting on the Music Festival. I have to compliment them on the excellent job of organizing the entire event, including the shuttle buses back and forth to the shopping malls nearby where we parked our cars, the food stalls and vendors, but most especially the performances by the talented American Indians. I’m sure it will only get bigger in future years.
Alterations to the Motorhome
My neighbours Stephen and Anna (also from Ontario) had shown me how they had removed a seat in their bus and replaced it with a computer table which they had bought in Coolidge here. So I thought that it work well for me too. Stephen and Gorm removed my seat and installed the 24” wide computer table that has a shelf on the bottom for my printer, a slide-out for the keyboard, a desktop for the laptop and two shelves above that for paper, pens, etc. It’s perfect! I was then able to pick up a steno chair for $13 from a thrift shop here. It makes all the difference for working on the computer. Now, if only I could get a signal on my wi fi whenever I wanted it, instead of intermittently, things would be perfect!
My Attempt at Line Dancing
On Monday February 16 I joined the beginner’s line dancing class in the clubhouse. I had no idea it would be such a workout! By the end of the hour my leg muscles were telling me they needed a rest – but it was lots of fun. Now, if I can only remember the steps. I had hoped to continue the next week, but I came down with the flu and was too weak to attend the next class.
Even though we live in the park here, there have been lots of wildlife sightings. There are lots of mourning doves and magpies hovering around first thing in the morning, greeting us as the sun rises. However, I didn’t expect to see a roadrunner or small rabbits running between the trailers. I also identified a Scott’s Oriole perched on my neighbour’s antenna.
I didn’t see it myself, but I am told there is a giant skunk that makes the rounds after dark.
In the abandoned subdivision I still see the five burrowing owls, and am crossing my fingers that one day I will see chicks beside the pair. I would love to photograph the family!
As I drove along the street that takes me to the abandoned subdivision, I spied several gophers in the raised ditch that runs very near the road. They don’t seem too perturbed by cars driving by, but are equally prepared to scoot down their burrow hole if necessary. Sometimes all you see is a head peeking out of the hole. I know they are considered a nuisance by farmers, but I enjoy seeing them.
On February 19 a group of us took advantage of the new gazebo that has been built at the rear of the park for a sunset barbecue. Everyone contributed to the meal – hamburgers, salads, cheese and fruit plates – and plenty of homemade desserts. We christened the new firepit, and I was called upon to rescue a small lizard that had made its way into the woodpile used to start the fire. It wasn’t able to climb the wall of the concrete firepit, so while several people became alarmed but didn’t react, Zoo Keeper Marilyn took care of this little creature, carrying it safely away from the fire. Once in a while my old training comes in handy.
The new gazebo also sports the flags of the home provinces of the residents, representing British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Yukon Territories, Ontario and Quebec. We’ll have to persuade some Maritimers that it’s worth the trip too.
Every Friday Penny teaches a different craft and February 20 we made a lovely decoration from a gourd grown locally. I painted a scene of three stylized horses on mine, and decorated the stand it sits on. I have no idea where I’ll put it, but it was lots of fun to make it. Penny has such a wonderful way of encouraging everyone to try. I am not much of a painter, but she really helps.
Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show
This is the 54th year for this annual event! I recall that when I was a teenager, it was my sincerest wish to be able to attend this show – and now this is the second year in a row that I finally have.
On Sunday, February 22 I drove to Jerry and Diane’s apartment in Mesa and the three of us drove to Scottsdale to the Westworld show grounds, spending the afternoon watching several exciting events including English Pleasure, Western Pleasure, Park Horse, cow wrangling and Costume class. The latter class was quite spectacular with both rider and horse bedecked in Arabian costumes. It was just wonderful to watch these magnificent Arabian and Half Arabian horses as they went through their paces.
We stopped at the booth for Casino Arizona on the way out and spun the wheel there. I won a stuffed horse!
However, I was fighting off a sore throat and aching muscles that day and the next morning I knew that I had the flu. Penny very thoughtfully made me some homemade chicken soup, the old standby, and it must have worked. By Wednesday I was feeling fine.
My First Teaching Gig Here
It’s just as well that I was better by Wednesday, February 25, for that was the day that I had scheduled a class to teach beginners how to make a necklace.
There were nine women who attended and I am very proud to say that they all made a lovely necklace with guidance from myself, Penny and Lorraine. And it provided me with a little extra cash, some of which I used to schedule an appointment with Kathy Burchett, a wonderful massage therapist in nearby Casa Grande. I enjoyed meeting her last year, and we’ve kept in touch via email, so I truly looked forward to undergoing her tender ministrations on the Thursday. She has a natural ability to understand the body and what needs working on. I came out of there feeling euphoric.
Fresh Fruit – and Plants
This is the season for oranges and grapefruits locally grown here. I picked up a bag of about 2 dozen oranges for $4.00 from a roadside stand, and a lady neighbour of the park dropped off bags and bags of free grapefruit for the residents. So my fridge compartment is loaded with these delicious citrus fruits. They are so much better than what can be bought in Canada at this time of year.
As for the plants, well, I just couldn’t resist visiting a nursery called Distinctive Landscapes, which is located on the road into Casa Grande. I actually stopped by to see if I could buy some eggs from their free-range chickens, but alas, there were 32 orders ahead of me! But I added my name to the list and hopefully I’ll be able to get some before I leave.
As I was wandering around the gorgeous rows of cacti, citrus plants and geraniums, I spied some flats of lithops (stone flower) and euphorbia obesum, both of which I used to have back in Pickering when there was a greenhouse. These are succulents that are hard to find. I couldn’t resist buying one of each, especially since the prices were so reasonable – only $1.98 each. Then of course I had to find a nice pot to put them in. I headed off to the nearby thrift store where there are all sorts of bargains available and found a suitable small pot for only $4.
A Published Author
Doug Thompson is a free spirited man who travels wherever he wishes in his trailer, writing. He has several books that he has published and so far I have finished one called Trapper Lake (the story of a woman who lives in the Minnesota wilderness), and am about to start on another one called The Human Tribe. It is refreshing to meet and chat with someone who can challenge you intellectually. He seems to have lived quite an interesting life, and is leaving here in early March to head south to Benson, Arizona. Since I will be heading that way myself, we will probably meet up and explore some of the area together.
One of the ladies who took my jewelry class is Jane Webster. She and her husband Charlie live in one of the double wides here during the winter (Wyoming is their permanent home), and she had offered her place to do some beading together. I took her up on her offer on Saturday, February 28, and we spent several pleasant hours together helping each other with suggestions. I managed to make a few necklaces and a bracelet and plan to exhibit mine at the craft show that is planned here in the park for tomorrow. Jane, in turn, repaired a couple of gorgeous necklaces that she already had, including one spectacular turquoise and silver necklace, so we each probably accomplished more together than we would have separately. I don’t really have room in my motorhome to spread out my materials and that hampers me from starting, so going to Jane’s gave me the incentive to work on this craft that I really enjoy.
I realized after reading this blog that I hadn’t mentioned Ripley, so thought I should add a few lines about my wonderful companion. She still charms everyone and has made many friends in the park. As we walk around she greets them all and has to growl at some of the resident dogs too. There are plans to build a dog park in the back area, so it will be nice to let them run loose.
Penny with Ripley
I do make a point of taking Ripley out of the park every day to let her off leash to chase her ball – still her favourite activity.