Sunday, January 31, 2016

THREE In One Day!!

Three what you ask?  Three musketeers?  No, but I'd settle for just one.  Three ice cream shops?  No, but I'd settle for just one!  I'm pretty sure you already know the answer to that question ... three QUILT SHOPS!!  In one day!!!  Miss Patty and I were on a roll since Dan and his son went on a motorcycle ride to Bisbee for the day.

As you can see, I've included other images from the mission so the guys who aren't interested in quilting will have something to look at!!

First stop, the Desert Quilters Patch on Country Club Road towards Sahuarita.  I'm not sure if that's North, South, East or West.  I seem to get a little turned around when in Tucson because the mountains are on the wrong side!  I picked up this pattern for a boot quilt, with all the proceeds going to the Southern Arizona Community Food Bank.  That meant I needed lots of different "boot" fabric.  That turned out to be much easier said than done!!
Not to throw you off, but the fishhook cactus are blooming in the desert, giving these beauties crowns of gold.  The crowns eventually turn into sharp hooks that I'm sure you could catch fish with, if there was any water in the desert!!
The second stop was Arizona Vac and Sew.  We followed the GPS this time and even though it forgot there was an A and a B exit, after wandering around the desert, it finally got us back on track.  We didn't spend much time here because I would have walked out with an embroidery machine for a measly $7000.  YIKES!!!  That thing better be able to cook breakfast for that price!!

The third shop was Quilters Market on Speedway, the finest shop in Tucson in my opinion.  They were even having a customer appreciation day.  There were bags and bags with ribbons attached.  Pull the ribbon and you get what's in the bag ... and you didn't even have to buy anything!  I got patterns for fabric bowls and a fat quarter ... Patty got a quilt pattern book and a fat quarter.  

Since this book has several nice patterns and I have several jelly rolls at home, it seemed a perfect fit. It came home with me along with a couple more pieces for my Boot quilt.
So much for an entire day of quilt shop hopping!!  This is the little mountain next to the Mission, named Martinez Hill.  Jose Maria Martinez married his wife and raised a family, probably in Tubac Sonora and was in charge of the Presidio in Tucson.  Ten years after his retirement, his family was attacked by Apache Indians who took Tubac back.   Martinez was forced to move closer to Tucson.  He was granted land by the Indian Chief in San Xavier that was close to or included this hill, where he raised cattle until his death.  There's some very interesting history around if you just dig in the sand a little.
One of the doorways in the museum of San Xavier Mission has been restored to it's original beauty.  I think I just might try this in MY house.
There are several handmade iron gates around the property.  I imagine this was quite a feat without an acetylene torch!!  This mission has become a pilgrimage site for many believers on foot and on horseback.  Can you just imagine how amazing it would be to attend a festival here?
The original ceilings still exist ... hand cut wooden beams covered with small branches, then layered with adobe and dirt.  This insulation seems to work really well ... it's very cool inside the buildings.
Back at the ranch, Dan rode in on HIS horse, the Harley breed, and we immediately drove off into the sunset for another Supreme Burrito at Rancho Rustico on Houghton Road.  GREAT food!  I apologize for the bad picture ... I had already eaten half of it when Dan reminded me to TAKE a picture.  The good news is that I have enough left over for TWO more meals!!
Once again Mother Nature didn't disappoint when she threw out a beautiful sunset, almost a daily event here.  
I continue to look at homes, having found several nice ones for MUCH less than the purchase price of my home.  I have found that you have to watch out for things like well agreements, very long dirt roads and HOA fees.  If you aren't looking for a place where you can park a motorhome, you certainly have lots of possibilities at VERY reasonable prices.

With all our running around, I think today may be a stay-at-home and lay around day.  Or maybe we'll take a drive to Tubac!!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

White Dove Of The Desert

Sometimes you find a jewel, something akin to a diamond, where you never expected.  I've seen pictures of the White Dove Of The Desert, but never did I expect to see this beauty in the middle of nowhere.  Mission San Xavier Del Bac is the only remaining intact mission in Arizona and the finest example of Mexican Baroque architecture in the United States.

Patty, granddaughter Laila and I went to see the mission so I could take some pictures.  It's off Highway 19, south of Tucson.
In 1692 a Jesuit, Father Kino, visited the Tehono O'odham Indian village of Wa:k, and by 1700 had begun the foundation for his church.  With the land changing hands over many years, this second church was finally built in 1783, using local native materials.
Outside in the huge grand procession yard, natives sell Indian tacos and tamales for your enjoyment.  I should warn you about the bees however.  If you get Indian fry bread with powdered sugar and honey, eat with extreme caution.  People were swarmed with bees looking for the sweet stuff!!
This church is still in operation today, run by Franciscan pastors and sisters.  As in days of old, they have an effigy of a Saint lying in an alcove.  It is said only the faithful can raise his head with their hand and be rewarded with blessings.  This being Miss Laila's first introduction to very old Catholicism, she thought it rather creepy ... after all, she's only ten!!
As we walked around quietly, we tried to explain to Laila what she was seeing.  Did you ever try to explain a very old religion to an adult, let alone a kid??  
We did our best as we marveled at the Mexican baroque statues and paintings around the small chapel.  The detail and colors are truly amazing!!
With the little church falling into disrepair, in 1978 the Patronato was organized to raise money for restoration.  Some areas covered with cement had to be chipped away and replaced with plaster made from the surrounding adobe.   Some construction is with adobe bricks and some fired brick, which when covered with cement, wasn't allowing the walls to release moisture, causing the bricks to crumble inside.
Still in full operation, the Franciscan Sisters of Charity even run a small school here, K-8th grade.  These pictures just don't do it justice.  
The original church built a short distance away was finally dismantled and used to build a compound outside the Mission to help protect them from raids and attacks.
This small chapel to the side houses an altar filled with statuary and candles.  

To the left is a small gift shop and museum where you can see the restoration work in progress.  It's just a spectacular gem in the desert, not to be missed if you are anywhere near this area.
Just as we were leaving, we noticed the crowd outside the church.  It's a wedding party!!  The men were all dressed up in black zoot suits, with hats, chains and spats ... all except the one in the cowboy hat who forgot his!!  
Once everyone was escorted out of the chapel, the bride and her party (that's mom in gold and we think her father behind her with a braided pony tail all the way down his back) proceeded inside.  We never did see the groom.  
The flower girls were cute as could be, including the ring bearer, but I got a few bad looks for taking pictures.  In spite of smiling and giving her a little wave, she never changed her expression!!  Note the sunglasses on the ring bearer.
It was then that we both got in trouble.  Having been inside the church, we turned off our phones.  Dan and son Mark were trying to get ahold of us so Laila could return home.  We raced off, leaving the White Dove of the Desert.  Some day I'll return and spend more time here.  When you walk the same ground as the ancient Indians and sit in the same vestibule, you're changed forever.  History just seeps into your veins.

We still have a long list of places to go and things to see, including Tubac, Sierra Vista and my favorite Tombstone as well as several more houses to check out.  It looks like I may extend my stay here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Good Morning Sunshine!!

There have been so many beautiful sunrises, not to mention sunsets, it actually slows you down a little.  I spend lots of time admiring Mother Nature's creations here in Tucson.
Since it was kind of a slow day, between waiting for the housekeepers, changing a motorcycle tire and preparing a big dinner, I snapped a few images of the locals.  These finches are everywhere, darting around in the trees looking to score seeds.
The dove were out too, but no sign of quail.  Dan has a BIG feeder to keep the kids fat and happy, yet today they all wanted to clamor to the only small one on the property.
This feeder was half full yesterday.  It didn't take long to drop the level.  The birds on the rails kick seed out to the ground, which is immediately scarfed up by the dove who don't quite fit.  When this guy flew in, all the little birds took off as he scrambled to hang on to the very edge.
Everyone waited their turn until he finally flew away before they resumed eating.
Once my breakfast was over, I mixed up some ice cream and left it in the fridge while we went for UGLY  STEAKS.  Never heard of them?  You're missing out, believe me.  Jan Dickman, a butcher from Wisconsin who set up shop here, discovered a piece of meat at the bottom of the sirloin, near the tri-tip.  It's well marbled and makes the most delicious BBQ steak EVER!!  It's not pretty because it's rather chopped up by the time it's removed ... hence the name UGLY.  

As you know, I'm NOT a steak lover.  Too many broiled, overcooked pieces of jerky on the ranch.  A nice fat juicy tenderloin would be my pick ... unless this was available.  It's an amazingly tender piece of meat and has the best flavor!!  Check it out at Dickman's Meat and Deli.  I promise you won't be disappointed!!

Back home, I put the ice cream in the freezer container and plugged it in.  About that time Laila stopped by to meet Jonathan.  The freezer was so loud, I turned it off.  BIG mistake!!  By the time they left, everything was frozen solid.  It took ten minutes and two knives to get it going again and another fifteen to clean up the mess I made on the counter.

Mac 'n Cheese, ugly steaks and a huge green salad disappeared in no time as the Chance family son and granddaughter stayed for dinner.  Dessert was even better .... yummy chocolate cake dropped in an ice cream sundae glass, covered with my coffee ice cream, then smothered with caramel sauce!!  OH YEAH!!!!!

By 7:00 pm, this is what my rig looked like, with me close behind!!  Cooper doesn't like to share his toys, can you tell??
There's a new quilt shop a few miles North that we'll check out today, and possible the White Dove of The Desert Mission if we have enough time.  There's also a big storm coming in Monday with temperatures in the 20's .... OMG!!!  I better get to sewing fast and make a few more quilts for my bed!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

SNOW ... Right Here In Arizona!!

I was in for a big surprise when Patty and Dan said we were going to the snow.  SNOW?  In Arizona?  I know it's definitely cold enough to snow, but certainly not within 100 miles.  I was wrong .... shivering and whining-it's-cold WRONG!  It seems the Coronado National Forest, over 7,000 feet in height, has SNOW.
As we left Tucson and headed up the mountains, we passed by all the million dollar homes perched high on the hill.  There's definitely some beauties here, but I probably couldn't afford the electric bill, let alone the house payment.
We went from a very few saguaros in the valley to hundreds of healthy, happy ones.  What a sight to see, all these hands and fingers reaching up to the sky as you climb in altitude.  
When you get up to a certain level, maybe 4,000 feet or so, they disappear and pine trees stand tall in their place.  The drive was just spectacular.  You can see the road in the middle, winding up the steep mountain.  The light swipe of grey at the top of the image at the base of the far mountains is the moth ball airplane fleet in Tucson.  
Pretty soon we came into Hoodoo City ... lots of rock formations left after erosion of the soil around them.  
Although I don't think it got below 38 degrees, it was freezing cold from the wind.  Take your BIG jacket for this trip.  At the top of the mountain, we stopped and looked off to the Northeast at the little copper mining town of Oracle.  They say on a clear day you can see the forests of New Mexico from here.
At the very top where the road ends is a ski resort.  Not quite like California's resorts, but they did have two chair lifts.  Since they were closed, we went down to the Sawmill Run restaurant in Mount Lemmon for a GREAT lunch.  The pastrami sandwich that Patty and I shared was delicious, and lucky for us, they ran out of the soup we ordered, leaving us with sweet potato tots.  You've GOT to try these tasty morsels of yumminess!!
As we came out of the restaurant, you could see across the road where the fire came through years ago, destroying most all of the cabins here.  A few have been rebuilt up on the mountain, but many disappeared forever.  
Half a mile further down the road is the Cookie Shop.  They told me cookies, but didn't mention the size.  When she said the price of four cookies was $26, I about had a heart attack ... which is probably what would happen if I ate both of the two I ordered.  They are the size of a large dinner sized paper plate ... ooey, gooey and warm to boot!!!  One is plenty for four people ... trust me on this one!!
On the way back down the hill, we stopped in at the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site.  In 1942, after the Japanese were rounded up and put in camps because we were so paranoid during the war, he  was arrested for curfew and sentenced to this Catalina Federal Honor Camp.  He protested the internment, and eventually in 1987, a full apology was issued to the Japanese people by the U.S.
Hard to see, but this is what the camp here looked like between 1939 and 1973 when it was finally torn down.
Only foundations remain of the many buildings that housed the "workers".  There were no prison walls or wire surrounding the facility, but if you escaped, where would you go?  
While here, these workers built the road you drive to the top today.  And what a road it is!!  In places it straddles the ridge top, a steep cliff on each side.  
What a great day trip, I think only 25-30 miles outside of Tucson .... snow .... who knew???   Too full of pastrami and a Jolly-Green-Giant-sized cookie, I passed on dinner.

I won't pass tonight however, as Patty and Dan's son and granddaughter come for STEAK!!!  In the meantime, I'm torn between looking at houses to buy and quilt shops!!  You never know, I just might find the perfect location to relocate!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bad Images Of The Starry Sky ....

In spite of all my efforts to catch the starry sky with my camera, I failed miserably.  Even though I had it set on Bulb ... which means the lens stays open until you shut it ... it wasn't working correctly.    Maybe I'll try it again by setting up my camera ahead of time, instead of trying to work all the buttons in the dark!!
I imagine it was operator error ..... I haven't taken any night pictures in ages.  They do look MUCH better on my computer, which doesn't help at all!!   I have a sneaky suspicion it was my shutter release button.  In an effort to be quick about it and not freeze to death, I used the manual one instead of the automatic device.  The manual one has never been tested at night.
This is where the aliens showed up, or the ghosts if you watch Ghost Hunters on television.  It really was pitch black with no lights around at all, but I imagine there were bugs flying in front of the lens.  If it's an alien flying a spaceship, he's a drunk one!!
So onward and upward ... I'll try that again later.  Since it was Tuesday night, Jonathan decided to hit the bird bath and clean up a little for his readers.  You've probably seen pictures of birds standing under the kitchen faucet, but that's not Jonathan's style.  He dips his head into his water bowl, then looks up and shakes, sending water droplets everywhere, making his own personal shower.
As he does that, he spreads his wings to be sure he gets every spot clean.  It's pretty funny to watch as his head gets soaking wet, along with the entire floor.
More wet, more shaking and more wing fluttering ..... voila!!  .... a clean bird.  Well not really, especially since he never takes a bath when the water is clean, only at the end of the day when it's full of hulls and pieces of bird biscuit!!
After we got home, Patty and I made a quick trip to the Quilters Desert Patch.  What an amazing place THIS is!  It's a double wide mobile home, stacked from floor to ceiling with fabric.  That container with the name on it is also full of bolts, all on sale.  The aisles are so narrow you can hardly pass another person, but no one cared as they oohed and ahhhed over the selection.
They said I could do this ... even though it looks pretty complicated to me ... using the new line of fabric they just got in from Japan.  Of course none of it was on sale, but as Patty always says (she's a bad influence on me) you only go around once.  If you don't get it, when you return because you changed your mind, it will all be gone!!  Okay then ....... Black Tie Affair it is!!  What can I say, I'm easy!!
We're still running around like crazy, but took time for a dish of Freddy's custard at one of their new restaurants just opened.  Barbara and Tom Westerfield introduced me to Freddy's in Wichita Kansas I think ... and they know exactly what I got .... the Signature Turtle.  It was a great way to end the day!!