Washington – Texture and Sand in Deception Pass

We had a quicksand box in our backyard. I was an only child, eventually.
– Stephen Wright –

sand rocks bird feet tracksI took this photo on a beach near Deception Pass in Washington. Can’t you just feel the grittiness of the sand and the smooth texture of the rocks? You might also feel the warmth of the sun, except there was a mighty wind blowing in off the water – it was actually quite chilly!

This week’s WordPress  Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

Nevada, New Mexico – Up Words – Balloons and Lights

UP – The Photos:

All Lit Up – Las Vegas, 2009

All Blown Up – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, 2009

UP – The Quotes:

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.
– Winston Churchill —

You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.
– Woody Allen –

Canada – 144 Years Old and Going Strong!

Tomorrow is Canada Day! It will be our nations 144th birthday! Just about every community across the country will have a Parade or a celebration of some sort, often ending in fireworks. Expat Canadians all around the world will celebrate too! And if you are not Canadian, be sure to phone your Canadian friends and wish them a Happy Birthday.

For many, many years, we invited all our friends to our house for Canada Day. We had an afternoon of games and then a BBQ. Some years we played baseball or croquet or badminton. When we moved to the Red House, the most popular game was golf. We set up a 9 hole mini course that snaked around the grassy area of our property. We used 7 or 9 irons and plastic balls.

The course was always challenging. There was usually a small child standing right in the middle of where your ball needed to be. A strange dog would sometimes stop in, often retrieving a ball or two while bouncing from one foursome to the next to greet everyone. And there was always the vexing choice as to whether to carry one beer, a golf club, and a score card or two beer, a score card and no golf club. Lots of people, lots of cheering.

Though we still set up the Red House Greens course for other functions, Canada Day has moved out to the cabin. Our little community there invites all the cabin owners to take part in a whole day of events.

There is, of course, a parade. Many people decorate their golf carts for the ceremonial lap along the Main Street. The cart drivers throw candy to the crowd lining the route, and all kids go home with enough loot to last them for months. Just about everyone in the community has a golf cart, because that is the primary mode of transportation all summer. So technically, the parade could be very large, and there could be no spectators. But it never works out that way.

In the afternoon we troop down to the little lake for a “Regatta”. Rubber dinghies, canoes, home made rafts – all launched and raced with great fanfare and flurry, and the crowds on the beach clap and cheer.

Participant or spectator. Both are needed. Experience seldom required. Choose to be one or the other and go be part of something!

(Americans will celebrate Independence Day on July 4th so I want to wish all of my American friends a Happy 4th of July!)

Travel Guides – The Missing Chapter on Toilets

International Travel Guides – very handy for planning a trip. There are often several to choose from. If you are uncertain which guide is best, I would suggest you flip to the index and scroll down to see if there is a section about Toilets.  In my experience, the information contained in one short paragraph could turn out to be the best advice in the whole book.

Alas, most guides omit the topic completely. So here is a bit of practical information for after you arrive at your destination. The first challenge will be knowing what to call the facility you are looking for. You might try asking where the bathroom, restroom, WC, loo, lavatory, comfort station, toilet, or washroom is. If that is met with a shrug, you are on your own. A bit of wandering will usually take you to a location that seems familiar because you are offered a choice of two doors. These will be labelled in some manner that has to do with how the equipment inside is tailored for the sex you happen to be. If this label is hard to decipher, then just open one of the doors and decide if a room full of urinals is where you want to be.

Sometimes the facilities are unisex. In London I found a coin operated space age unit that could be mistaken for a bus stop. Upon exiting the facility, the entire inside of it went through a washing cycle – but not a drying cycle, which was why it was so damp inside when I first entered. In an airport in France the facilities weren’t quite unisex, but the women’s facilities were reached after passing by the men standing at the urinals.

In many countries, toilets are a source of income for someone. In India most public washrooms are manned by an attendant who insists on hard currency for the privilege of entering the facility. A small wad of toilet paper is included in the transaction. But in some countries it is best to carry a pocketful of kleenex, because paper is not deemed to be needed for a “clean-up in aisle four”.

In the Middle East I had my first ‘hole in the floor’ experience and came to the conclusion that I needed to have better thigh muscles. In general, expect the unexpected!

Once you have found the facility and completed your task, there is the challenge of Initiating a Flush. This means you have to find a knob, button, cord or lever that can be be pushed, pulled, or turned. Don’t assume this trigger is anywhere near where you would normally find it. If all else fails, quickly walk away to the hand sanitation station and pretend you had nothing to do with what happened in stall two.

While there is often a sink of some sort, and perhaps some water, and maybe even a bit of soap and a towel, the travellers best companion is the small bottle of hand sanitizer that keeps the kleenex company in your pocket.

My last bit of advice is this – when Choosing a Restaurant to eat in, check out their washroom before you order your meal. Washrooms are usually well lit, which not only lets you determine how clean the facility is, it also makes it much easier to read the menu…

Phoenix, Arizona – Desert Botanical Garden – Bark of a Different Kind of Tree

There are lots of interesting plants and trees at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden, but these Art Installations displayed ‘bark’ in a whole different way!

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Dale Chihuly Glass – Desert Towers – Welcoming visitors to the garden are the Desert Towers, which were installed as the entry-point to Chihuly’s first Desert Botanical exhibition in 2008. The installation was purchased by the Garden as a legacy to the exhibition.

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In a transformation that is typical of his work, American artist and filmmaker Philip Haas created four large-scale fiberglass sculptures inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s Italian Renaissance paintings of the four seasons.  These were a temporary display at the Garden. The photo above is Autumn.152-four-seasons-spring

Philip Haas Four Seasons Spring152-four-seasons-summer

Philip Haas Four Seasons Summer152-four-seasons-winter

Philip Haas Four Seasons Winter152-philip-haas-four-seasons

Canada Thanks You, Mr. Beaver – Bell Canada Frank and Gordon (Video)

Castor Canadensis. The Canadian Beaver. Canada owes it’s beginnings to a rodent. A short, fat rodent, at that.

In the 1600’s, European explorers were very disappointed when they discovered that Canada was not the spice-rich Orient, but a land full of beavers. Millions and millions of them. Ever alert to a new product, traders turned beavers into a fashion accessory.  The beaver pelts made very fine fur top hats. Popularity for the hats didn’t fade until an estimated 6 million beavers had disappeared, and the species was close to extinction. (As author Margaret Atwood noted, “Canada was built on dead beavers.”) Fortunately, by the mid-ninteenth century, the winds of fashion changed. Fur hats fell out of favour, and were replaced with silk ones.

The industrious beaver population eventually rebounded, and in 1975 Canada bestowed the greatest honour a rodent has ever received. The Canadian Beaver became an Official Emblem of Canada.

Savage Chicken Cartoon The Beaver likely thought this recognition was long overdue. Oh sure, it had graced Canada’s first postage stamp, the 1851 “Three Penny Beaver”.  And in 1937, it appeared for the first time on the 5 cent coin. But the beaver’s official recognition in 1975 as being an industrious, honest, noble, sincere and dedicated rodent was long over due.

The Beaver’s good name has been used to great advantage for enterprises like Beaver Lumber, Beaver (Scouting), and Canada’s second oldest magazine, The Beaver (which later rebranded itself due to double entendre, the cowards.)

Frank and Gordon – © Bell Mobility

The Canadian Beaver was brought to life on Television with the birth of Bell Canada’s marketing strategy from 2005 to 2008 in the characters of Frank and Gordon. The commercials were a big success!

Beavers are sometimes viewed as being pests. They frequently come into conflict with landowners when they chop down trees and build dams in unwanted places. Under those circumstances, beavers are compared to lawyers:

Reduce the number of lawyers. They are like beavers – they get in the middle of the stream and dam it up.
– Donald Rumsfeld –

Some would say that the cuddly Canadian Beaver is not as inspiring an emblem as the fierce American Eagle. But I think each one fits the country they represent:

The Eagles may soar, beavers build dams.
– Joseph S. Nye Jr. –

Jerome, Arizona – Historic Copper Town and Spring Flowers

Founded in 1876, Jerome Arizona, was built on Cleopatra Hill on top of what was the largest copper mine in the State. The population peaked at 15,000 in the 1920’s. The ups and downs of copper prices, along with other factors, finally forced the Jerome mines to close in 1953. By the late 1950’s, the population had dropped to 50 people, making Jerome the largest ghost town in America.

Jerome is now a bustling tourist attraction with a thriving artist community.

145-jerome-bartlett-hotelAfter a fire, the Bartlett Hotel was rebuilt with brick in 1901.  The building became unstable with the slides in the 1930’s and was abandoned in the 1940’s.

145-jerome-spook-hall-and-la-victoria Now a glass blowing studio called La Victoria, the ruins of the back building were originally a marketplace. The building in the foreground is the back of Lawrence Memorial (Spook ) Hall.

145-jerome-retaining-wall-fenceRetaining wall with fence on top

145-jerome-douglas-mansionDouglas Mansion in the distance. This is a state park with a museum which exhibits photographs, artifacts, minerals and videos. There is a 3-D model of the underground tunnels that are under the town.

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Fruit tree in bloom

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House of Joy is in what was once the  “legal” red-light-district in the 1920’s. It was a brothel and then a restaurant. This photo is at the side of the house.

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Fruit tree in bloom

Avebury Henge and Stone Circle

A post about a place I’ve been, and the resulting Unfinished Project:

Avebury is a beautiful little village in Wiltshire, Southern England. Much of the village sits within a large stone henge that encompasses 28.5 acres. With an extensive bank and ditch, and numerous standing stones, it is a magical place.

Wiltshire South EnglandSome of the remaining large sarsen stones. There were originally 98 of them. The diameter of the exterior stone circle at Avebury is larger than the one at Stonehenge.

Saxon Church of St. James in the village of Avebury.Saxon Church of St. James in the village of Avebury.

EnglandThatch roof house in Avebury. We lived in England for two years, and I think I have photographs of nearly every  thatch roof house I saw! I love how they look!

This is the Cross Stitch kit I bought from National Trust. It will be a nice memory of Avebury, should I ever finish it…


The kit was prepared and is copyright to M. Yvonne Iley (M.Y.I. Designs) as an exclusive design for The National Trust in 2001. The contact address on the kit is for National Trust and is listed as: National Trust Enterprises Ltd, Stable Block, Heywood House, Westbury House, Westbury, Wiltshire, BA13 3XQ.

I purchased the kit in about 2001, so I don’t know if it is still available.