Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Erik's Solo Performance

Erik has been in band all year and chose to take up the clarinet. Karen had played the clarinet in highschool and college. Erik wanted to play well and was frustrated at first, so we got him into lessons for the better part of the year. He improved so much that he was asked to perform a solo at the school's band recital.

We're treading new territory here, so we'll see if this uploads....

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bizarre Weather-Related Incidents?

Found this bee stuck on a cactus needle a few days ago. I didn't really think too much of it as I had seen bees stuck like that before. Kind of weird - I mean, did it not see the cactus? was it evading a predator? Did the wind blow so hard as to impale it on a spine?

Then today I was trimming up a cholla and saw this leaf hopper stuck on a needle. It was still alive! At least the legs were still moving a bit. I don't think it was terribly happy to be alive being stuck by its head and all. But again, you have to wonder how it got there? And how long had it been there??

Sunday, April 27, 2008


My latest drawing/painting with Micron markers. 8" x10"
I took this reference shot in Buchart Gardens while on our honeymoon back in 1990!

'Artsy' Flower Pictures

Prickly Pear

Another Prickly Pear


Don't be surprised if one or all of these end up as drawings. On my monitor these all have very dark backgrounds. If that isn't the case in reality then they aren't as 'artsy' as I fancy them to be, but I can fix that in photo-shop or on the paper!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Justin! Justin! Justin!

Justin & Erik

Jakob & Justin

A visit from cousin Justin! What could be better? The boys were excited to go fishing with Justin...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Too Good to Pass Up

There was one huge bloom on this tiny cactus and three more buds getting ready to bloom. The cactus was only $1.77 at Home Depot. So $49 later I'm out the door with my prize. Oh, I also bought a pot and a hibiscus and another little cactus and some flowers. More on those if they survive!

It's called a Peanut Cactus as the stems are about the size of a peanut shell or maybe your average-sized thumb.

One bloom spent - two in full bloom - one more to go!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Good News, Funny News, and the One That Got Away

Good News, The duckling pictured below isn't one from last week. Those are about twice the size and are mostly still around.

Funny News, Jakob was chasing the ducks away with a fishing net and fell in the lake! He was pretty surprised! Said the water was a bit cold, too.

This is the one that got away earlier in the day. We were watching a kid and his dad using bread to catch this carp. They hooked it and played it, but it ended up getting away before they could get it out of the water. They would have released it anyhow, but it would have been pretty cool to get a picture with this catch! Anyhow, that's the reason we were back at the park again tonite...

And Then There Was One

This is the only duckling left at the park. Not totally sure it is the same brood or not.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Besides the Races, Water Park Fun

The boys had a blast at the water park. Probably in part because the school had reserved the whole place and the lines weren't bad. The slides were pretty much no waiting, and most anything else only had a few kids in the way. They kept pretty busy, and I had to follow Jake around, so there aren't a lot of pictures. I mean, I had to get wet, too!
... Steady...

After the slide

THE Turtle Race!!

OK, the REAL race was the one with the tiny turtles. They said 2750 or so, but I saw the number 3030 in there, so go figure. Now this race only costs $10 per entry and there were prizes for the top 50. Make that the first 49 turtles and the last, laziest turtle. First prize was $2000 travel credit with a travel agency, and other prizes included dinners, golf packages, and the typical stuff for this event. Anyhow, I can see how you might not want to 'shell out' $200 for the corporate race, but $10? Nothing to it. We'll be sure to give plenty of notice next year, and we'll have Erik get in touch with each and every one of you!
How else would you start out with nearly 3,000 turtles? Several containers are dumped at the same time...now if only we get our turtles into the front containers!!

Nearly completed lap 1 of 1.5. The turtles have spread out but are still well grouped together. This was the smaller group with the larger bunch near the far side of the Lazy River. Not sure which group had the advantage here, but there were jets moving the water toward the center of the river.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Turtle Races!

Erik's school, Bethany Christian, held a fund raiser today at a water park. The highlights of the day are the Turtle Races. Shown below are the corporate turtles. Much larger (and far fewer) than the regular turtle race. Businesses pay something like $200 for chances to win if they finish among the top 4 turtles. Of course, they all win as all the businesses are listed as sponsors of the event. SO...if YOUR business wants to get in on the event NEXT year, make sure you let us know asap and we'll be sure to get the info out to you in plenty of time. Think of the world-wide, FREE advertising you would get as a bonus when I post the picture of the turtle you sponsor with YOUR business name on my blog! Not to mention the fabulous prize you could win.
!!And they're off!!

They don't call it the Lazy River for nothing!

Already starting to line up by the time they get to the bridge. Ended up with an exciting finish as - I think it was Western Tree - passed some physician clinic within 50 feet of the finish line.

Its Still Spring Here

Hope this isn't boring everyone, but I love the springtime! And yes, even though I take many pictures at work, I do actually work as well.

Some type of cholla

Here's one of those native bees. They literally dive into these flowers and swim around like Scrooge McDuck in his coin vault! You can really see the pollen in there.

Here she's getting down to the serious business of collecting pollen.

Just look at that yellow belly! I'm assuming there are pockets there similar to the leg pockets where they load up pollen to bring back to the hive.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is It Safe?

This little round-tailed groundsquirrel let me get fairly close, and each time I would move he would duck back into the hole. When he ventured out it was to hold this pose for quite some time. He probably figured no predator would notice if he remained motionless. The wind was blowing from behind him, so he may have had to be more cautious than usual.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Jakob was pretty excited when the ducks laid eggs (I think these were geese eggs, but who's going to argue with Jakob?) in the reeds in a planter at the park we frequent. He was distraught when he found them smashed more than once. Well, today we saw some ducklings and he was right back to excited.

Jake's take on the ducklings. Pretty decent shot for not using the zoom!

My take on the ducklings, with zoom, of course!

What About the Boys?

I know, I know, the flowers are nice, but what about the boys? What have they been up to?
Here they are enjoying the 'hike' up to Hole-in-the-Rock at Papago Park in Phoenix.

Many people come to the Hole to see the sunset. We did catch the sunset, but it wasn't as nice as this older photo. Sometimes it is fantastic, and sometimes just a normal sunset. We got normal.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Flower With Bee

Loaded with pollen

Ready for lift-off!

Here's another prickly pear, I believe the common name is Woolly Prickly Pear, this one with pink flowers out in the front yard. With all the honey bees gone it seems there are more native bees around.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Prickly Pear Flowers

Prickly pear are pretty common around landscapes. The natives shown here (Engelmanns) are always yellow, but the variety of prickly pears have a pretty good range of color. There are pinks blooming now, some are deep red, some more orange. I don't think I've seen any in the bluish range, but I would guess the experts are working towards that.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pella Windows

Once again Al Vandekamp comes by to lend a hand. Here he's helping remove the old, aluminum frame from Erik's room.

Well, it took some time, but I finally got new windows to replace the boys' rooms single-pane windows. That makes 6 of 9 windows replaced and 5 of 6 are Pellas. This is Jake's room and our room already has a Pella window. What's the big deal with Pella? Well it just so happens that Pella comes highly recommended from Karen's brother Lynn Bleeker who just happens to work for Pella in Iowa. That might not have been enough to convince us, but when Lynn & Marlene visited a couple years ago, Lynn helped replace the first three windows (which all were standard sizes and avaiable at Lowes). I still didn't believe they would make much difference so I took a thermometer to Jake's room and set it by the window and then took it to our new window and checked. Same side of the house - only a few feet apart - and the temperature difference was 6 degrees. And this was before the big heat. Pretty convincing!