Mushrooms – A Story with a Morel

What veggie goes best with jacket potatoes?
Button mushrooms.*

Something I have not seen here in Arizona before – mushrooms growing in our yard! This year it has been quite rainy and apparently this, and other conditions, have been just right for mushrooms to appear. While not ‘morel’ mushrooms (an edible kind), these mushrooms certainly look good enough to eat… but not by me.

Speaking of wet conditions, 75% of Arizona is NOT currently experiencing drought, with the remaining area being at the lowest levels of drought categories. The USDA Seasonal Outlook predicts the ‘no drought status’ to remain for some undetermined time.

During a drought, a grape farmer watched his grapes dry out and fall to the ground. All he could say was… everything happens for a raisin.*

During a drought… every day is lawndry day.*

Mushrooms in Arizona – Original Photo
Mushrooms – Graphic Filter – Topaz Studio
Mushrooms – Ricci Gaphic Filter – Topaz Studio

What happens when the mushroom’s car breaks down?
It gets toad.*

So is there a ‘Morel’ to this story? Of course – though it has nothing to do with mushrooms or drought.

Hundreds of birds flew down from the forest trees and were harassing the sheep grazing in the fields.
A black sheep took it upon himself to run into the woods to stop the birds. And it worked!
The moral of the story? Lonely ewe can prevent forest flyers.*

* – All the preceding quotations came from ‘Author Unknown’!

My other Mushroom Post: Aspen Oyster Mushrooms in Alberta

Wreath on a Roll

The first 4 rolls of toilet paper we used during the pandemic.

I started blogging about Covid-19 on March 11, 2020. By March 19 it was clear that Toilet Paper, or the lack thereof, was big news – and creative minds were having a field day with that! I posted 51 of their TP memes (you can see them in the links at the end of this post).

March 2023 – and I’ve finally completed an epic artsy/craftsy piece (Wreath on a Roll) to memorialize the ‘Rona virus. (Sadly I have no memorial bric-a-brac for the other epidemics I have lived through: Polio 1950-1955; Asian Flu 1957-58; Hong Kong Flu 1968-1970; SARS; MERS; and Swine Flu 2009-2010)

I chose the toilet paper roll for the foundation. Special mention goes to The Car Guy (chief procurement officer) who secured a steady supply of TP, though the quality was sometimes such that ‘The Charmin Bears’ were appalled. It took me three years to collect the paper rolls (because this was a project at our Arizona Snow Bird abode and we stayed in Alberta for most of the first two years of the pandemic).

Once the foundation was secured (glue gun), I started decorating with the cheap and flimsy toilet paper. I braided it and wound it around the outside and made some toilet paper flowers

Toilet paper roll foundation and braided toilet paper edge.
Toilet Paper flowers

Next, I called upon ‘Andy Amazon’ who supplied me with raw cotton balls and some seasonal decor items to add some color to an otherwise monochrome wreath.

I think it turned out pretty good!

That’s Not All!
I tracked down a few more memes – turns out the internet isn’t finished with toilet paper yet!

My Other Toilet Paper Posts

Toilet Paper – The Great Debate

Will Trade Grapefruit for Toilet Paper

Stockpiling Toilet Paper

‘Rona Virus – More of the Lighter Side

Guess Who Came for Breakfast?

Few things get your heart racing more than a 2 ft long (61 cm) stocky brown blob bolting out from under the back porch stairs just as you are passing by in the morning.

The Javelina that was feasting on the fruit on our orange tree.

From the Javelina’s perspective – nothing gets a Peccaries short legs pumping faster than  a 5 ft (152 cm) stocky white haired human walking right by your nap spot.

After two such events in 20 minutes, it became apparent that ‘Porky’ wasn’t going to leave our yard without encouragement. The Car Guy and I eventually herded it to the gate and out of our fenced yard (I guess we hadn’t latched the gate very well!)

From the Javelina’s perspective – when people advance on you, yelling and waving a little stick and a light weight lawn chair, you want to get away from the crazies as fast as your little legs can go – even if you have to leave those luscious oranges behind.

Javelina (Collared Peccary) Facts
Scientific Name:  Tayassu tajacu
Mainly short coarse salt and pepper colored hair, short legs, and a pig-like nose; long, sharp canine teeth which protrude from the jaws about an inch. Javelina have a scent gland on the top of their rump covered by long hairs.
Average weight:  35 to 55 pounds; 16 to 25 kg
Average length:  3 to 4 feet long, 2 feet tall; 91 to 122 cm long, 61 cm tall.
Average lifespan:  10 years in the wild
Food:  Chiefly herbivores, javelinas feed on desert plants, cactus stems, pads and fruits, agave hearts, roots, and flowers. They have sharp tusks, just like that of an elephant. Their small teeth tear apart cactus plants. Their snouts detect the portions of the cactus that are safe to eat.

Prickly Pear Cactus with chunks missing thanks to a Javelina. 

Other Info:  They are not pigs, though they look similar. Found as far south as Argentina and as far north as Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

For those familiar with wildlife indigenous to the American Southwest and Central America, the javelina was as unexciting as a resident raccoon rummaging through the garbage… If javelinas could wear glasses, they probably would. Their eyesight is known to be terrible… While javelinas can be a smelly nuisance, they are truly one-of-a-kind.
– Taylor Haynes, Arizona Oddities –

Smelly nuisance – it is why we had a fence built around our back yard. Pre-fence, the fruit trees attracted herds of ‘porkies’ that rested (and pooped) under our large Ironwood tree. The fence works almost perfectly (unless the gate is accidentally left open)! No big deal – it is why I got this good photo of the ‘Fantastic Beast’!

Eye Spy! Arizona Car Shows

Two down, a few more to go. We’ve been to the 2023 Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson Auction and the Fountain Hills Concours in the Hills Car Show. The Car Guy is in his element and  I have added a couple hundred more photos to the roughly two thousand photos that document my attraction to shiny things…

This year’s photos are a bit different because I realized that I haven’t been documenting the cars ‘faces’. I normally take side view photos.

So, here are a few of the ‘faces’ I captured:

A 1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon showing off a mouthful of shiny braces! Sold for $46,200
A 1996 Toyota Supra with eyebrows and dimples. Sold for $56,100
A 1938 Diamond T Rat Rod with sad eyes and a bad complexion. Sold for $49,500

New Super Bowl Commercials are on the Horizon – but can they be any funnier than this one from 2020!

This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.
– Phil Connors, from the movie Groundhog Day –

 In Other News:

My Other Posts like this one… sort of:
Here We Go Again
From the Garage
How Truthful are Photos – Altered Cars
Car Quotations

An Abnormal Normal Christmas

Back to Normal Christmas Letter
For many years I wrote an Annual Christmas Letter for family and friends. There wasn’t much to report on a personal level in 2020 and 2021 because of Canadian pandemic social restrictions. Everything I wanted to say about everything else was on my blog – so I didn’t do letters for those two years.

January 2022 was the end of the pandemic for The Car Guy and I. We promptly got Covid when we left the restrictions in Alberta and moved to the open social life of Arizona – sure made writing the Annual Letter more interesting and easier to write!

An Abnormal Christmas
The Car Guy and I moved up our migration to Arizona to early December 2022. That meant we celebrated Christmas with real family in Alberta in November, while December Christmas was a series of virtual visits with family who were also in small pods in far flung places. Our Christmas Day meal was a simple gourmet BBQ hamburger dinner for two – if that isn’t a stress free holiday recipe, I don’t know what is!

One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.
– Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone –

I always know what I’m getting for Christmas…
fat… I’ll get fat.

I bought my brother some gift wrap for Christmas. I took it to the gift wrap department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know when to stop unwrapping.
– Steven Wright –

As for this post – “It’s A Wrap” too!

Christmas Tangle 2022 – A No Snow Holiday This Year

We  are in sunny AZ this holiday season. We arrived here just in time to miss the snow and bitter cold that is making travel so hazardous in western Canada and the USA right now! I’d like to say it was good planning on our part, but weather is too unpredictable for us to take any credit for our choice!

To all of you who have been a part of our lives in a great or small way – The Car Guy and I wish you all

Safe Travels,
A Very Merry Christmas
and
All the Best in the New Year!

All my favourite holiday Quotations: Christmas Quotations

My very first Christmas Post: The Annual Christmas Letter.

Perhaps my best Christmas Story: Home – The LEGO Businessman and the Oranges

A Gallery of my Christmas Tangles:

Acrylic Pouring- Accidental Painting

Acrylic Pouring is a painting technique introduced in the 1930s by Mexican social realist painter David Alfaro Siqueiros. He discovered that different colors of diluted paint would spread, coalesce, and infiltrate one another depending on the density of the paint. He called it ‘accidental painting’.

Ghostbusters -12X12 canvas

Pour Painting has recently become a popular craft for people who like to  experiment with color and unorthodox techniques. It would be realistic to expect a work of art to hang on your wall the first time you try it! Unless…

you are, like me, shall we say ‘unlucky’, in which case it is a good thing that pour paints are quite content with being stacked, layer upon layer, two or three times… before the final product is declared a reasonable ‘first’ attempt.

We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.
― Bob Ross, creator and host of The Joy of Painting’ –

I call my first painting “Ghostbusters”. I think you can clearly see how the nuclear-powered zappers have affected the ghosts. This painting is suitable for display in any room with a ‘disgusting stuff containment unit’ – like our bathroom.

Third Time Lucky – 12X12 canvas

My second painting is called ‘Third Time Lucky’ because there are two unsuccessful layers of paint under the lucky layer. I see microbial creatures swimming around in murky water – maybe this should hang over my washing machine.

As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.
– Calvin – cartoon character, Calvin and Hobbes –

Mucking about with paint (other than the kind I put on a wall) is a new experience for me. I’m really enjoying it, but it is a messy craft, so the next step in my artistic progression was to carve out a place to practice it. The Car Guy offered me one small work table in his garage, but there were more drawbacks than advantages to that location. I moved it all into my craft room. I protected the work services and floor with multiple yards of heavy plastic. Then I opened a couple windows and used a fan to ensure good ventilation.

My next two paintings were on round pieces of wood. They will probably be made into clocks. I call the smaller one, on the right, ‘Under a Microscope’. The larger one on the left is ‘Full Moon’. (I had mixed up too much paint for ‘Full Moon’ so used it up on ‘Under a Microscope’.)

River Delta – 4X4 canvas

What happened when a ship carrying red paint collided with a ship carrying blue paint?
Both crews were marooned.
– Author Unknown –

Another leftover paint project is two small canvas panels that I call ‘River Delta’. The paint was excess from my Rocky Sunflower project.

Letters M, W

My last project while still in Arizona is on wood – my initials.

Have you tried acrylic pour painting?

Acrylic Pouring – A Rocky Psychedelic Sunflower

One of the ‘big rivers’ in our yard.

If there is one thing we’ve got a lot of at our Arizona house, it is rocks. Thousands and thousands of rocks. Millions of rocks if you count the crushed gravel that blankets the entire yard.

The gravel is broken up by larger rocks that I have marshalled into wavy rows to form dry creek beds.

I’ve used some of the rocks to make two giant lizards. One is very dark in colour. The other is very light.

One of the two lizards. This one is a dark lizard made from lava type rock.

On the whole, the rocks in our yard are not very colorful. I thought I might remedy this by using outdoor acrylic pour paints. (Here is an excellent primer on this artsy craft – Acrylic Pour Painting.)

The sunflower is about the size of a real giant sunflower head.

I called my first project “Psychedelic Sunflower”.  It reminds me of 1960’s Trippy or Psychedelic art. Maybe you are old enough to remember the brightly coloured, abstract works of that time period.

This will be the first of more rock art if the paint withstands the Arizona summer sun!

Great Horned Owlet Walks Around the Neighbourhood

On April 23 the Owlets were still in the nest, looking far less fluffy and much more feathery!

Their ‘ear’ tufts were more visible too. Owl experts don’t really know what the purpose is for these feathery tufts. They don’t have anything to do with how well the owl hears since an owl’s ears are on the side of the head, not the top!

The first owlet left the nest on April 25. Several alert neigbours reported seeing the young owl walking from one front yard to another!

I finally caught the ‘walking owl’ in action at dusk on April 27. The owlet was perched on a rock, then hopped down and continued it’s walkabout.

One parent owl was in a nearby palm tree hooting, while the second parent distributed the evening meal.

One owlet was still in the nest, maybe enjoying how roomy it’s quarters are now.

On April 28 the owlet in the nest was still looking down from it’s high perch.

The Adaptability of Great Horned Owls

Now that I’ve watched baby Great Horned Owls in both Alberta and Arizona, I realize there are differences in the behaviour of the owlets once they leave the nest. In Alberta, the owlets learned to fly from spruce branch to spruce branch. They didn’t spend time on the ground until much later when they were learning to hunt. The Arizona owlets are starting at ground level and will only become tree dwellers if they can hop/climb up something, or when their wings are strong enough to get them airborne!

Some interesting things I’ve found about Great Horned Owls.

– though an owl might dive at cats, dogs and people if they have a nest
in the area, it is unlikely they would take a dog or cat to eat. They
cannot lift much more than their own body weight, which is 2-3 pounds. Apparently it is urban legend that birds of prey hunt pets…

– an adult owl will have a wingspan of just under 4 feet. The female owl
will be bigger than the male.