Unique – Fountain Hills Arizona and Disc Golf

This is a ‘two for one’ unique photo. The fountain in the background is in Fountain Hills Arizona. When it was built in 1970, it was the world’s tallest fountain. It is now the 4th tallest. When it is running with two pumps, as it is here, it rises to about 300 feet. If the third pump is used, it is 560 feet high. (91 meters and 170 meters – but that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive.)

disc golf Arizona

In the foreground – a group of Disc Golfers prepare to throw.  The Fountain Hills Park is home to an 18 hole Championship Disc Golf Course, but it is also a public park. We spent a whole afternoon watching the golfers throw their specialty ‘frisbees’, but also watching all the other users of the park wander about. Some, like us, were actively trying to skirt the course and stay out of the way. Others either didn’t realize, or didn’t care that they were in the direct path of an incoming object that is moving at 50 to 75 miles an hour over a distance of 300 or 400 feet.

Long way… wrong way.
– A Golfers Lament –

Close One Door, Open Another

December is a wicked month – at least it is in our family. Nearly all our great tragedies, the ones that will dwell in our memories for the rest of our days, have happened in December. Illness and death are the standard fare, but now and then December shoves us through another door and we mutter, “I sure didn’t see that one coming.”

Close some doors today, not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere.
– Paulo Coelho –

This December has been no different – two family health issues have arrived. I can’t begin to predict the outcome of either of these – there are too many possible scenarios when the human mind and body are concerned. I have no doubt though that some doors will close and some doors will open and we will all move on some how.

wooden doorDecember also brought the opening and closing of two very literal doors. One door is to the house we now own in the desert country of Arizona. We opened the door to this ‘new to us’ abode about a month ago. Setting up shop in a new country with a husband who is still recovering from a brain injury – it has been challenging. But every time I check the weather report and see what the temperature is back in Canada – well, I feel a bit better about walking through this new door.

One door will probably be closing, however. Our Cabin Community is on land that is leased from a Canadian First Nation. The lease will expire at the end of the 2013 season. We had thought the new lease was a done deal, but it turns out it wasn’t. The Nation’s Economic Development Committee and the Chief and Council had all signed an agreement, but they did not foresee the power of a group of malcontents who (depending on which one of them you listen to): hate the Canadian Federal Government and all white people; want all the cabin owners gone but would welcome ‘rich Arabians’  who might want to lease the land; don’t trust the government of their own Nation;  think the land is worth much more than the lease was giving them … the list goes on and on.

Through the power of Facebook, they were able to defeat the lease referendum. So, at the end of next cabin season the First Nation staff will be out of jobs and the Cabin owners will kiss their leisure investment goodbye. Within a few years a vibrant 39 year old community, where ‘Two Nations‘ worked and played together, will disappear under the foliage of Mother Nature.

How naive and trusting I have been.

I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, ‘Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.’ He said, ‘Yes, but not in a row.’
– Steven Wright –

Belgium – WWI Memorial – A Brooding Soldier

Canada entered World War I as a colony and came out a nation…
– Bruce Hutchison, Canadian Journalist –

We’ve been to Europe a number of times. (I know that sounds like a big deal, but we were living in England at the time.) On one of our trips we visited a number of  WWI cemeteries and monuments in Belgium and France. I was looking for a cemetery that contained soldiers who had died on the same day that my Grandpa’s brother, Henry, had been reported missing in battle. (Read In Flanders Fields for the story of my family in WWI.)

Near St. Julien we found the Canadian Memorial of The Brooding Soldier.  The bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier with folded hands resting on arms reversed was carved from an 11 metre high piece of granite. It appears to be meditating about the battle in which his comrades displayed such great valour – a battle where the Canadian, British and French Armies met an enemy that launched the first ever large-scale gas attack.

Each fall I am reminded of that visit to Brussels and the St. Julien Soldier when I see the drooping heads and leaves of my sunflowers. The first light dusting of snow makes the large flower head bend – a Brooding Sunflower.

A heavy frost assaults, but doesn’t quite kill.

But as the weather gets colder, the sunflower admits defeat. Winter wins another war.

Nevada, Germany, Qatar, Egypt – Foreign Street Scenes

Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.
– Dave Barry –

America has solved the problem of foreign languages. Want to see the Eiffel Tower without the inconvenience of all those foreigners in France? Just go to Las Vegas!

How about raw meat hanging in front of a shop, cabbages wilting in the heat, and dead animals floating in the canal nearby? Seems foreign to me, but this scene was relatively common in Cairo, Egypt. (Except for the dead animals floating nearby. That was only if there was a canal for them to float in.)

This street in Doha, Qatar seemed foreign when I first encountered it, but became normal after living there for some time. (Well, not right there. A few miles away.)

This is a street in Munich, Germany. The buildings, the statues, the floral window boxes – all so foreign in my part of the world but absolutely beautiful!
Do you ever ask yourself why you live where you do, and not somewhere else? I do…

Texas, Washington, France – Fifty Shades of Grey in Photographs

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ – I wish I had thought of that title for my blog. Can you imagine how many visitors I’d get every day? Disappointed visitors, of course, when they discovered that fifty shades of grey described my hair colour and not my review of a hugely successful erotic novel – which I haven’t read.

No, to me fifty shades of grey describes the colour of the headstones in  an old cemetery. (This one is in Rodemack, France.)

Headstone inscriptions don’t usually refer to the deceased person’s steamy sex life, but this one in Moultrie, Georgia did (assuming it is true):

Here lies the father of 29.
He would have had more
But he didn’t have time.

Fifty shades of grey also describes the rocks and sand on a beach. (This one is at Deception Pass in Washington.)

Beaches are thought to be very romantic places, though spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida isn’t so much about romance as ‘Sex on the Beach’.

An early morning fog at Lake Conroe, Texas. A comfy Tete`-a-tete´ chair waits for the couple to sit and enjoy their morning coffee. The air is warm, the fog creates an intimate envelope of fifty shades of grey.

I have many more photos that are fifty shades of grey and I suppose human intimacy could have taken place at one time or another in many of them. But I really don’t want to know about it, any more than I want to read erotic mommy porn. So, look somewhere else for a review of “Fifty Shades of Grey!”

Gray hairs seem to my fancy like the soft light of the moon, silvering over the evening of life.
– Jean Paul Richter


Scott Feschuk, a sometimes very funny writer for Canada’s MACLEAN’S magazine, wrote a single chapter of a book he called Fifty Shades of Eh. Here is an excerpt:

I gaze upon him with my intrepid eyes. My mouth, which is also intrepid, curls into a sly smile. ”
Did you remember the clamps?” I ask.

“Canadian Tire was closed. But I found a bunch of clothespins in the garage.”

I swoon. My breathing quickens. My heart beats a frantic tattoo as I surrender myself to the anticipation of languid erotic pleasures and several hours of splinter removal.
– Scott Feschuk –

Canada’s Birthday – 145 Years Old

Happy Birthday, Canada!

The Canada I know best has big mountains, and on a clear day I can see them from my back yard. (But not this big. I have to drive for about an hour to see them up close and personal.)

My part of Canada has clear, fresh running water in uncountable lakes, streams and rivers.  (Except right now, which  is flood season here in Alberta. The water is pretty muddy, and we’re hoping the cabin doesn’t get flooded.)

My Canada has  four distinct seasons.  This is my yard in the winter when everything is coated in a blanket of snow.

Until I came to Canada I never knew ‘snow’ was a four letter word.
-Alberto Manguel-

I could go on and on, but instead, go to these two posts to find out more about Canada and Canadians:

144 Years Old and Going Strong!  –  a glimpse into how our family celebrates Canada’s birthday.

If you don’t know any Canadians, but would like to,  be sure to read my 52 Friends Plan. A Canadian in your home for one week a year – it is just that easy!

We have the mounties, they have the FBI. Can you imagine the FBI doing the Musical Ride?
– Dave Broadfoot –

Arizona – A Visit to Never Never Land and Javelinas

For the past 10 days The Car Guy and I have been Canadian Snow Birds. Yes, we packed up shorts and sun tan lotion and headed south to a place where snow flakes rarely fall – Phoenix Arizona. We have a few friends there, several who like us well enough to invite us to stay in their home. So stay we did – 5 days with some fellow Canadians, and 5 days with an American couple we met in the Middle East.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely, which made us wonder how we could stay there for several months a year. We made some mental calculations. How many friends would we have to have if we wanted to stay as guests  in their homes (as opposed to buying a house or hauling a honking big RV down south each year?) There were too many variables to come up with an exact number, but it appeared that 5 days was about the maximum we could expect to be welcome before the host ran out of wine and beer and the towels needed changing.  So, let’s say we moved to a new home every 5 days, and let’s say we planned on staying south of the border for about 4 months (and let’s say each month has 30 days, just to keep the arithmetic simple). That means we need to have 24 friends.

The 24 Friends who live in Arizona Plan is no more likely to happen than my 52 Friends who live all Around the World Plan. So we ended up back where we have been many times before – a discussion about a combination of staying with friends, buying some more timeshares, and/or a mobile domicile of some sort. We have never seriously considered buying a house there, though. Note the word ‘never’. Never is a word you should never, under any circumstances, say out loud. It will come back to bite you every time.

Our Arizona-Canadian friends, who also don’t have 24 friends who they could stay with, have bought a winter house outside of Phoenix. The second evening we were there, a family of Javelina strolled through the back yard. Dad, Mom, a couple of little Javelina kids. I didn’t get a very good picture, but I have good memories of the warm evening air and the lovely dinner on the outside patio, (and the wine and the beer). That night we watched the stars from the comfort of our lounge chairs.

The next morning our host picked a bucket full of oranges off one of his fruit trees. He made them into juice which accompanied our breakfasts on the patio.

Many of the prickly plants (which all plants seem to be to a greater or lesser degree) were blooming. On the day before we were leaving, the Echinopsis finally opened. What a huge trumpet shape flower!

But – getting back to Never. We were never going to buy a home in this Never Never Desert Land. But a respite from a long Canadian winter looks more and more attractive as the years tick by, and we are, by nature, people who like to have a roof over our heads that we can call our home. We returned to Canada with a list of housing options, and the willingness to open the door to the thought that we would like to be Snowbirds. It wasn’t all that hard to think this change is a good thing, because when we got home, it started to snow again.

Goldfield Arizona – Where History Comes Alive

ghost town buildings cactusGoldfield Arizona was an active community in the mid 1890’s. Today it is a Ghost Town, full of beautifully old things. It is even possible that the Saguaro cactus in the middle of the photo is almost as old as the town.

The theme of the WordPress Photo challenge this week was Two Subjects. Which two subjects are your favourites in the photo above?

Here are a few more photos taken in Goldfield:

Journey Starts and Ends at Kingswood Station, England

Surrey EnglandWe lived in Kingswood, Surrey, England for two years. Many of our journeys began with the walk down to this building, the Kingswood Train Station. When I say down, I mean it was a 10 minute downhill walk that felt like a 15 minute uphill battle on the trip home at the end of the day.  When it was raining, it became a 20 minute skin drenching, umbrella breaking endurance run.

The Kingswood Station was the third last stop on the line, so the only direction we ever went was into London. What a wonderful city it is! And how could it not be so when we started our journey from such a beautiful looking little train station!