Thursday, September 29, 2011

Graham Cracker Temples

Back on July 31st I received a new church calling.  I'm now serving as the second counselor in the Young Women presidency.  Young Men/Young Women is the organization that serves the youth of our church, ages 12 to 18.  As members of the YW presidency, the president, first counselor, secretary, and I plan for all the young ladies of that age group, but as second counselor my specific responsibility is for the Beehive class, made up of the 12- and 13-year-old girls.

28 Sept 2011: Members of our Beehive class.

Together with my two advisors, we teach the girls gospel lessons on Sunday and on Wednesday evening we help our Beehives plan and carry out activities that are spiritual, service-oriented, or sometimes just plain fun.  In the two months I've been serving in this calling, I've had a great time!  The girls are so much fun to be with.

28 Sept 2011: More of our Beehive girls.

Last night we had fun making little temples out of graham crackers, vanilla frosting, a variety of sprinkles, and some gummy worms one of the girls happened to have with her.  As you'll see from the following pictures, they were very creative.  (Although I must apologize for the fuzzy photos.  The battery on my camera was too low, so I had to use the camera in my phone instead.)

After their little temples were constructed, we played some LDS trivia Jeopardy, which is what those colorful, egg-shaped buzzers on the table were for.  The girls pressed their "egg" when they thought they knew the answer, and the same colored egg as the first to buzz in would light up on my table.  The game was a blast.  Those girls are very competitive!

The Beehive who made this temple (above) asked me to be sure and note that
she was trying to recreate the Switzerland Temple, but ended up with a "tent" by accident!
I think it's beautiful, so white and pure and glittery.  I love sparkles!

I've longed to be involved with the Young Women program for decades, literally.  In my teenage years I was a part of that program myself, back when it was called MIA (Mutual Improvement Association).  As a young adult in the mid-1970s, I helped out in the church library on MIA night, assisted with youth activities like girls' camp, occasionally substituted as a teacher, and even served briefly as the secretary.  However, that was more than 30 years ago, so this calling was long past due.  I'm so happy that it finally came around again!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Autumn Garden

25 Sept 2011: This afternoon's harvest.

Autumn has arrived.  The evenings are crispy and the mornings are shivery.  The temperature is in the low fifties when I drive to work at 7:20.  Being new to the world of gardening, I wondered how these changes would affect our vegetable garden.

25 Sept 2011: Ed sought out the ripe tomatoes after we got home from church.

Two of our tomato plants have died, but the other six are hanging in there and continue to produce loads of beautiful tomatoes.  I now understand why the task of canning was invented, so the surplus could be enjoyed throughout the winter months.  Ed regularly gives away tomatoes to our neighbors and friends.

Ed was convinced our 4 Anaheim chili plants wouldn't produce anything before the first freeze, but I'm happy to report that they are all putting forth lots of lovely chili peppers.  I can't wait until they are big enough to harvest and enjoy! 

The bean stalks stopped producing beans for a week, but when the weather turned chilly they suddenly began blooming again.  We are slowly finding more beans on the plants.  However, as you can see in the photo above, the leaves are beginning to die.  So are the cucumber plants in the foreground.

Sadly, our cabbages were attacked by some unknown invader, which chewed little holes through all the leaves and stunted their growth.  They are dying off without having completed the development of their cabbage heads. 

Well, one head of cabbage does remain.  It's very small and Ed sprinkled it with insecticide to stop the plague of aphids that moved in after the other invaders went away.  Neither Ed nor Dylan care much for cabbage, so when it's ready for picking I plan to wash it really, really well and then make myself a big bowl of fresh, homemade cole slaw! 

We still have some nice cucumbers, but I think their days are numbered since the plants are starting to thin out and turn yellow.  We also have a nice, long row of onions that Ed says will be safe even after the first freeze, so he's waiting to harvest them then. 

My husband feels his first garden in the White Mountains was a failure (he has major plans to do it differently next spring), but I think we've had a beautiful season.  We will continue to enjoy it until the first frost comes along to finish it off.  I hope that is a long way off!

By the way, yesterday morning Gonzo found his voice.  He crowed and crowed for the longest time!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two Roosters in the Hen House

17 Sept 2011: Our two roosters, Gonzo and Percival.
Gonzo's sister Lacy is visible between them.

How did I miss it?  Two weeks ago, Ed and I were outside watching our chickens when I suddenly realized it: Gonzo is a guy!  In the picture above you can see the difference between him and his sister Lacy.  He definitely has a comb and wattle.  She definitely does not.

I looked back through older photos of the chicks.  At 2 months of age, Percy's comb and wattle were becoming noticeable, arousing our first suspicions that there might be a rooster among our 12 hens.  Gonzo, on the other hand, did have a little more red on his head and under his chin than his sister, but the difference wasn't remarkable.  Besides, when looking at Gonzo our attention was drawn mostly to his oddly twisted little face.

17 Sept 2011: Gonzo at almost 4 months old.  Despite the top half of his beak
being so twisted off to the side that the top and bottom don't meet, he manages to eat
enough to be the second largest chicken in the hen house, outsized only by Percy!

However, when I looked back at my last blog featuring Gonzo (on August 28), it seems pretty clear that he was developing all the characteristics of a young cock!  Perhaps Silver Laced Wyandotte roosters (Gonzo) just take longer to develop male characteristics than the Barred Plymouth Rock roosters (Percy). 

As far as we know, Gonzo hasn't begun crowing yet.  That may be because Gonzo's beak is so badly deformed, or it may be because Percy already does enough cock-a-doodle-doing for three roosters (luckily, no neighbors have complained yet).  Gonzo has become quite aggressive toward the females, though, asserting his maleness.

In general, Percy has so far tolerated Gonzo's attempts to subdue the females.  There have been a couple of incidents, however, when Gonzo mistakenly went head-to-head with Percy himself and was immediately put in his place.  Not only is Percy much larger than Gonzo, but he had been ruling the roost for a good month before Gonzo figured out he was a cock, and Percy has no intention of stepping down. 

17 Sept 2011: Gonzo's petite sister, Lacy, another Silver Laced Wyandotte.
I think her black-tipped silver feathers are beautiful!

In 4 days our chickens will be 4 months old.  We hope the females will start laying eggs in a month or so.  We also hope to have no more surprises in the form of unexpected roosters.  It would be nice if the remaining 10 chickens are the hens we originally thought all 12 would be!

It's funny to remember bringing home a dozen little balls of peeping fluff.  When Sarah gave Gonzo his name, I protested that Gonzo is more of a boy's name, but it did seem to fit his strange little face, so the name stuck.  Now that we know he's a rooster, no name change is required!

This story has a bittersweet ending, though.  It looks like Gonzo will be the first of our chickens to wind up in the crockpot.  Ed says it won't be long before Percy will injure or kill Gonzo.  Only one rooster can rule the roost, and Percy has already gotten his job down to a science.  He's very protective of his females and is great at quickly ushering his ladies into the hen house at the first sign of danger.  He keeps them inside until he's checked the perimeter and decided that all is well.

Besides, in a year or two we plan to raise more chicks.  If Gonzo's deformity is the result of a birth defect, we won't want his genes passed on to our chicks. 

Now that the time has come, Ed is a little saddened by the prospect of having to slaughter the first of our chickens, even though we both agree that it's going to be necessary soon.  Still, it is the circle of life and part of our family plan to become more self-sufficient.  And that is a good thing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Flying High

5 Sept 2011: Ed and Mary beneath a World War II bomber.

 And now, to continue the saga of our romantic Labor Day weekend getaway...

After spending a leisurely Sunday at the resort, we were up bright and early Monday morning to check out of our condo and drive back into Tucson to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum.

I loved this sculpture at the entrance.

The first thing we did was take a tram ride around the outdoor exhibits.  It lasted about an hour and 15 minutes.  Our guide, an elderly veteran, was quite knowledgeable.

Ed on the tram with an A-7 Corsair Navy plane in the background.

Ed was in his element.  He knew almost as much about the planes as the guide, and soon they were in deep discussion.

We saw a lot of interesting planes on the tram ride.  This was Air Force One for both President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson.  I think this must have been the plane on which Johnson was sworn in right after Kennedy's assassination. 

 One of the first things Ed found after we arrived was this F-4E jet.  It was built in the 1950s and flown during Vietnam and then for decades after that during the Cold War.  This particular one was one of the Thunderbirds, performing in the #7 slot.

Here's Ed with the F-4E jet.  This type of plane means a lot to him because it's the kind he worked on when he was a mechanic in the Air Force from 1980 to 1984.  It brought back a lot of memories.

Ed with a World War II B-17 bomber.

Ed gets into the belly of the B-17 bomber to check it out.

There were several huge hangars filled with planes and memorabilia from various eras.  This is Ed in the hangar featuring space exhibits.

I thought this miniature of the space shuttle launch site was cool.

The Santa Catalina Mountains provided scenery for our 3.5-hour drive home.

We had a great time, and Ed really loved being around all those old planes.  Then by 5:30 we were on our way back home, looking forward to sleeping in our own bed but happy with the memories we created.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Birthday Times Two

1 Sept 2011: On our birthday, Ed turned 51 and Mary turned 57.

Who would have thought it would be so much fun to share a birthday with your spouse?  We've enjoyed that pleasure twice now since we got married, and it has been great! 

This year our birthdays fell on a Thursday, so I had to work, but we enjoyed dinner out with son Dylan and new son-in-law Chris (daughter Sarah had rehearsal with White Mountain Symphony Orchestra that evening).  We had Mexican food at El Rancho, the restaurant where our family has celebrated our birthdays for close to 20 years now.  They put a sombrero on your head, sing "Happy Birthday," take your picture, and bring you a free dish of deep-fried ice cream.

3 Sept 2011: The building to the left is our condo.  That's our front door straight ahead.

The next day was Friday, though!  Ed and I wanted to get away and spend a romantic weekend together, so we made a reservation at the WorldMark Rancho Vistoso resort in Oro Valley, 14 miles from Tucson, AZ.  Ed had never been to Tucson before, so we decided to check it out despite the heat we knew we'd experience there.  (The high each day has been around 104 degrees.  Could be worse!)

2 Sept 2011: The living room of our condo.

When it's just the two of us, we're able to spend fewer of our vacation club credits by reserving a studio unit instead of the 2-bedroom, 2 bathroom units we used to reserve when traveling with 3 children.  The 2-bedroom condos are as big as my whole house!  The studios are smaller, but still very nice and quite roomy for two people.  And they still have a full kitchen and laundry room in each unit, as well as a patio complete with grill.

2 Sept 2011: The kitchen/dining area of our condo.

We spent Saturday at Old Tucson, the movie lot where more than 300 Western movies and TV shows have been filmed.  I've lived in Arizona for 31 years, but I'd never been there before.  We had a good time!

When we return home, I will post the photos of our little vacation on Facebook, but meanwhile here's a taste of how we spent our day at Old Tucson:

A stagecoach arrives at the coach depot.

Ed prepares to board the stagecoach.

Mary smiles despite the jolting ride inside the stagecoach.
We shared the coach with 3 people from Denmark (who loved the heat!).

Ed poses in a casket.  Kinda creepy, eh?

Here's Ed, still hale and hearty, at the cafe where we ate lunch.

I never expected to run into family at Old Tucson!  Cole and Bob Younger, standing behind Frank and Jesse James in this old Wanted poster, are cousins of mine!  My Great Grandfather Sam Haley, their first cousin, remembered them riding into town to visit family (and maybe hide out) at the height of their notoriety when he was a child.

I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! 
Ed and I find ourselves in lock-up just like my infamous cousins!

We end the day in search of souvenirs for family!
Tomorrow (Monday) we'll be exploring Tucson's "Pima Air and Space Museum"!