Sunday, 14 May 2017


I belong to a couple of creative art groups... the Monday morning group which is only 9 people, and the Thursday group which has 19 people. The Thursday group held our annual Art Show and Sale last weekend. The constant rain and cold weather turned out to be a blessing as people can't garden in the pouring rain, so they came in droves to check out the art at the Community Centre. Between 19 artists, there is a huge variety of style, subject matter and medium, size, shape, etc, in fact something to suit most tastes, and a lot of art changed hands. I didn't expect to sell anything, but sold seven pieces.... I was very pleasantly surprised..... in fact... gobsmacked!

I'm still amazed that people actually want to give me money for my paintings!

Friday, 12 May 2017


A little bit blurred because the photo was taken through glass, but I think he's either an American Goldfinch or a Yellow Warbler. He didn't stay long, just long enough for me to grab the camera.

Saturday, 6 May 2017


Our Monday morning Art Group meets in the back room of the Gallery every Monday morning and we aim to try different techniques and media.... so one of our number is an accomplished potter, and he fires many of his pieces in the Raku style.
You can read about the Raku process here.
Our first task was to make a pinch pot, starting with a shapeless lump of clay, shaping it into a ball, then making a depression into the middle, and working the sides until it looked sort of like a cup. Here's mine. This was after it had been fired once and I had added white glaze inside, and blue glaze on the outside with a couple of black blobs. I had no idea what this would turn out like.

 This was the kiln, home made and fuelled with a propane BBQ tank.
The items to be fired were lined up on the table and there was a selection of different glazes to be used. Our resident potter was there to give advice, as I'd never done this sort of pottery before.
 The items were fired in the outdoor kiln, and then taken out and put into a metal can that had lots of newspaper and other combustible materials in it, which of course caught fire right away. This is what gives the raku finish it's blackness and the metallic sheen.
 A clay mask that had been in  the kiln.... still cooling on the grass and covered with soot and ashes. I didn't see this one cleaned up.
 We also made small animal shapes to be fired but sadly mine broke in the kiln on its first firing. This was a sheep? bear? cow? whatever it was, our potter made it.
 My pot, once it was cleaned up, looks great, well, I think it does anyway, pretty good for a first attempt. When it first came out of the kiln it was completely black and had to be cleaned with a rough kitchen scrubbie and scouring powder.
 A selection of the items we fired that day. So they are not museum quality, but I don't care, we had so much fun and learned about a new process.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Cross Country Adventure

It was quite an adventure, driving from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Approximately 2,220 miles along America's highways, or if you're Canadian, it was 3,600km. We packed everything but the kitchen sink into the car, including V's little dog..... you can see part of the dog carrier in the bottom right corner.
We were on the road by 7:00am aiming for a good first travel day. The sky was blue and the sun was shining on the previous day but clouds started rolling in and it had rained a bit that night. But we were glad of the cooler weather for travelling.
We drove north from Phoenix towards Flagstaff, partly tracing our route we had taken to Jerome a few days earlier. Then V said "Is that snow on those cars coming towards us?" Oh, I hope not....  but as we climbed higher and higher.......
 I couldn't believe my eyes! And this was really heavy snow. Luckily the road surfaces were clear as we didn't have snow tires on the car..... well, you wouldn't think you would need them in Arizona! We drove from 32C in Phoenix to 0C as we climbed to 7000 feet above sea level at Flagstaff.

 Lots of traffic on the road. We encountered some snowplows and some salters, which were a welcome sight, especially when it started raining freezing raindrops. And I was still wearing my summer T-shirt and capris! Thank goodness for a warm car.
As we headed west from Flagstaff towards the New Mexico border, the temperature rose a bit and the freezing rain became regular wet rain.... but bringing with it very high winds. We were battling with the steering to keep on the road in some of the really exposed areas.
We stayed the first night in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, having travelled 850km (528 miles) and of course, next to the hotel there was a Mexican restaurant. Who can resist tacos, burritos, fajitas, refried beans, and my favourite, poblano rellenos.
The road next day led us over the New Mexico border into Texas, where the wind was still blowing a gale force but at least the rain had stopped. We made quite a few rest stops, mainly for the little dog to get out and have a run round and let Nature take it's course. Well, we needed to stop too.
I wasn't going to investigate any further than this notice outside the nicest highway travel rest stop in Amarillo, Texas. We went inside and met the janitor staff who keep the place clean and tidy, and they were so proud of their facilities. The building was built 13 years ago and .... well.... what can I say, for a public washroom the whole place was spotless!
 And this was the tile mosaic in the ladies washroom, commemorating Route 66. In the words of the song: "It winds from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way." We were following Route 66 much of the way across the country as far as St Louis. The strong winds continued across Oklahoma, and I was amazed at the thousands of wind turbines installed in the western part of the state, making the most of those high winds. Too bad I didn't take a photo of them. Our only heavy traffic was going through Oklahoma City.
This picture is included to amuse my Chandler relatives. We spent the second night in Joplin, Missouri, having got just over 1000km (645 miles) behind us that day. Joplin is mentioned in Route 66 lyrics.... and I have since found out it's where all those tornadoes head. We had thunder, lightning and heavy rain, but no tornadoes, thank goodness.
Our third night was in Anderson, just to the west of Indianapolis, Indiana.... this was 920km (572 miles) from Joplin. It was fascinating to see the changes in the surroundings as we travelled north.
 And the rain continued through Illinois, Indiana, and then over the border to Michigan.... now we were getting close to home. When we got to Detroit, we followed the instructions for "Bridge to Canada" and there it is, the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario.
We sort of expected trouble at the border crossing, as we had such a full car, and also we were travelling with a dog, but the Border Guard just swiped the passports, asked a couple of routine questions about what were were bringing in duty free (a couple of bottles of wine each) and how long we had been in the USA (V had been there since October 2016, and me just for 10 days), and waved us through. Phew!

And then were were back home in Canada..... Hooray!.... and as soon as we crossed the border the sun came out!
We were home by that afternoon..... so 3 nights and 4 days on the road travelling 3,600km, and yes, we are still friends in spite of being trapped in a car with noone else to talk to (except the little dog) all that time. Yes, I'd do it again, it was fun. But I'd like to stop and do some exploring next time. And I'd plan for better weather.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Lady in Waiting

In the back parking lot of the local physiotherapy office...
Mrs Goose is waiting patiently for a happy event. I wonder where Mr Goose is? I'll be going back next week, so I'll report on the family's progress then.

Sunday, 23 April 2017


Jerome, Arizona.    Founded in 1876 in the Black Hills of Yavapai County 5000 feet above sea level, Jerome was once the fourth largest city in Arizona Territory. It had the largest copper mine in Arizona, producing three million pounds of copper per month.  The copper returns were pure profit as the mine operating expenses were covered by the extraction of other minerals..... gold, silver, lead, zinc, azurite and malachite.

Prehistoric Native Americans were the first miners. The Spanish looked for gold, but found copper. The first claims were staked in 1876 and United Verde mining operations began in 1883 after the Little Daisy claim.

Once known as the "Wickedest Town in the West", Jerome grew from a tent city to a prosperous town, inhabited by a mix of nationalities, all intent on making a fortune in the mines. Miners, smelter workers, freighters, gamblers, storekeepers, prostitutes and preachers, barkeepers, wives and children.... all citizens of the mining town.

In 1882, Jerome's first postmaster named the mining town after the family of financier Eugene Jerome. It was incorporated as a town in 1899, after a number of fires destroyed buildings and the town had been rebuilt.

Welcome to the town of Jerome with a giant J carved into the side of Cleopatra Hill. About 160km north of Phoenix, an easy drive for an afternoon's sightseeing.

By 1900, Jerome was a thriving copper mining town, but many of the businesses were associated with alcohol, gambling and prostitution.

With women in the minority, "soiled doves" found plenty of hardworking miners in Jerome willing to pay for companionship. Although it was illegal, enforcement was inconsistent. prostitution was in integral part of life throughout the mining years.
It must have been a rough life.
In 1916, over 3000 miners were employed producing copper for machinery and weapons for WW1. Disused mining equipment is on display along the approach to the town.  By 1918 underground mining was changed to an open pit mine after an uncontrollable fire broke out in one of the tunnels. The population of Jerome peaked to 15,000 in the 1920s but within 10 years during the Depression it dropped to less than 5,000. Another boom for copper to supply the needs of WW2, but Jerome's mines finally closed in 1953. Within 5 years, Jerome was left with only 50 inhabitants, and was the largest ghost town in America.

One of the old hotels hosts Rock'n'Roll in the Spirit Room. The place was really jumping to cover versions of Johnny Cash songs. Just walk in off the street and enjoy. 
I fell into a burning ring of fire.... I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher....

After dancing to the band in the bar, we dropped into Cellar 433 winery for some light refreshment. Two glasses of their good red wine and a cheese plate, but what are those dark items with long stems in the top right corner of the plate? They were pickled and spicy, full of small seeds. No idea what they were.... yummy though.

And while we enjoyed our wine and cheese, this was the spectacular view across the Verde Valley towards the red rocks of Sedona. The large building is the Douglas Mansion.

The Audrey mine shaft and headframe was constructed in 1918 after James "Rawhide" Douglas located a rich copper deposit. From 1919 to 1938 3.6 million tons of ore came out of this mine, yielding 320,000 tons of copper, 190 tons of silver, and 5.3 tons of gold.

Local transportation?

The Jerome Historical Society was formed in 1953, the year the mines closed. It's no longer a ghost town, thriving with tourist shops and artist's studios. It's been designated a National Historic District and the appearance of the streets and buildings has not changed much in 100 years, although much restoration has been completed, and more is planned.

The miners are gone, the current population includes artists, craft people, musicians, writers, hermits, historians and families. I'd love to go back and explore more of the streets, and perhaps buy something made of local copper.

Thursday, 20 April 2017


I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, a couple of weeks ago. When I left Ontario, it was 4C, a sprinkling of snow left on the ground, and a chilly wind blowing. Arriving in Phoenix still wearing my jeans and a sweater, running shoes and socks, I was hit with 34C, hot and sunny! People in Tshirts and shorts and flipflops. It takes a bit of getting used to for this Northern girl! Especially when the Customs people took away my sunscreen.

The first evening, looking out towards the neighbours house. I was so excited to see palm trees and cactus.

I wondered what these tiny oranges were on the tree in the back yard. They were about 1 inch across, a little smaller than a golf ball or pingpong ball. I was told they were kumquats, and are edible. I tried, but ooooh... really sour! However they make great marmalade.

The back of the house I was staying in. No grass in the back yard, that would be too expensive to maintain in the dry climate. The back and front yards of most homes are covered in gravel..... ours was grey, next door had a red colour, and the neighbour's gravel at the back was more yellowish. No need to water it or mow it.

At first I thought this was a sour orange tree, but it turned out to be grapefruit. Can you imagine strolling out to the back yard and picking a grapefruit for breakfast?
I was fascinated with the main thoroughfares lined with tall elegant palm trees. However I discovered not all is as it seems, I found the microwave towers were disguised as palm trees with green plastic palm fronds attached to the top.

I was staying at Sun City West.... a 55+ community of around 15,000 houses established in the 1960s.  Everything was so clean. No garbage anywhere. No dirty cars.  Perhaps if you drive a dirty car you get a traffic ticket, I don't know. No children. No schools. No graffiti. Lots of churches. Very few people walking the streets, probably because it was hot, and it's so much easier to drive your golf cart to wherever you are going.

There are ten golf courses, but I don't play golf. However, each golf course has a couple of really good restaurants which had to be investigated. One golf course even had its own church.
Definitely a retiree's paradise. I was there about a week, staying with my friend V who had just sold her house, so I had volunteered to drive back to Ontario with her, with the car packed with all her "stuff" including her little dog. But some time for some sightseeing first.