Kung Fu Panda and Joe Satriani

We had the boys this weekend, which is always lots of fun. I love having them at our house and look forward to their arrival every other weekend. The oldest is really into Call of Duty 4 (or as the cool kids call it – COD4) and I think he would play it constantly from the time he gets in the door until the moment we take him home if we’d let him. We don’t, and I think he’s okay with that, but still…if given the chance, I don’t think it would go offline all weekend. 🙂kung_fu_panda

Saturday’s mail brought a package from Amazon.com. I pre-ordered Kung Fu Panda for my hubby for his birthday (which was Tuesday – Happy Birthday Honey!). Now my hubby is not  a big fan of going to the movies, but we’d seen the trailers to Kung Fu Panda and thought it looked funny, so we went. It was so funny, in fact, that we went twice! There is something about the slow motion animation that is so hilarious that we had tears running down our faces both times we saw it in the theater. This one is a definite “got to own it” movie. So guess what we did Saturday night…yep, watched Kung Fu Panda with the boys. We all got a good laugh out of it.  I couldn’t help but  think that the dudes would have probably laughed a lot harder at this movie three years ago (especially oldest, who is now 15 and cooler than the other side of your pillow) than they did now, but I think they enjoyed it a lot.

Last night we dropped the boys off a couple of hours earlier than usual because my wonderful sister-in-law bought us tickets to see Joe Satriani at the Dodge Theater in Phoenix. Before the show my husband treated me to a fabulous dinner of prime rib at Kinkaids.

l-westLeslie West and Mountain opened the show. They weren’t bad, but not great either. During the second (I think) song Leslie tripped over one of his cords and crashed into the floor, tweaking his knee and who knows what else. This guy is no spring chicken anymore so there was a lot of concern for him. He got up, limped back to his mike, cussed some, and continued his portion of the show. His bass player (sorry, can’t recall his name) was pretty entertaining. He’d get his 2 ft. braids (which protrude from his mohawk) swinging around his head like a helicopter and I was pretty sure he was going to take flight at any moment.  The highlight of Leslie’s show was when he played Mississippi Queen, which was the only song that I recognized of his.

Then came Joe Satriani…Wow! That. Dude. Can. Play! He’s just so amazing. He did mostly songs from his satch1new album. But he also did a few of his old standby’s as well. I especially love his song “Always With Me, Always With You” as that is the song my daughter and her hubby chose for their processional music for their wedding in August 2007. He did one song, “Ghosts” that I thought was pretty interesting. I liked the mystery and emotion that it evoked. “Andalusia”is a beautiful song that is technically brilliant…but of course all of Satch’s music is technically brilliant. He switched guitars throughout the show, but I think my favorite was a gorgeous silver guitar that he played quite a bit.  Several of Joe’s guitarsare custom made by Ibanez. Stu Hamm, Joe’s bass player, did an incredible solo on the bass…Wow!! What a show!

The only down side to the entire evening is that I had this in front of me all night, blocking my view!!

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He could have just scrunched down in his seat, couldn’t he? Oh well, the music was still amazing and I had a great time with my hubby. Many thanks to my sister-in-law for the concert. It was a once in a lifetime experience for me!

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A Trip into the Past

My hubby has a hard and fast rule, from which he rarely wavers, about traveling over holidays – that rule is that he doesn’t travel…period. This especially applies to New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, as these are the holidays that most lend themselves to people drinking and then getting into their cars and wantonly endangering the lives of themselves and everyone else that is unfortunate enough to be on the same road. He calls these holidays “Amateur Night” and vowed long ago that he wasn’t going to be out on the road with all the crazies, even when he was one of them.

Needless to say, I have pretty much quit asking if we can go somewhere fun on a three-day weekend. There are plenty of other weekends in the year where we can go and do, so it’s just not a huge deal to me anymore. This year he surprised me.

Last Sunday we were going to go to a movie. My hubby isn’t crazy about going to movies, either, but he knows I love going, so he planned for us to go see something that we both thought looked fun and entertaining, “ You Don’t Mess With the Zohan”. The bummer for us was that the movie isn’t being released until June 6th. I sighed and began to plan a day of laundry and paying bills. It was okay, I wasn’t planning anything anyway.

Nevertheless, Hubby was determined to give me a fun day on this holiday weekend! He decided that we would go visit the Heard Museum in Phoenix. I’ve lived here for 2 ½ years, but had never yet been to this wonderful place, and he hadn’t been there since he was a kid on a school field trip; probably about 25-30 years ago. I LOVE museums, and had expressed a desire to visit the Heard, so he thought this would make for a fun day for us both. He was right!!

We arrived about 11:00 AM and had lunch at the lovely little restaurant, The Acadia Farms Cafe that is part of the museum. We feasted on seafood enchiladas and salad while sitting outdoors under a tree. The weather was beautiful! It was sunny, a very slight breeze was blowing and the temperature was about 80.

There is a shop that sells Native American items, many of which are very costly. I told my hubby that I thought it would be really cool to have one of the large baskets that we saw in the shop, I have just the place to put one that size…that is I thought it would be cool until he pointed out that the price of that particular basket was $17,000!! NO, I’m not exaggerating! $17,000! But, in all fairness, it is an amazing piece of work.

After lunch we went to tour the museum. We saw authentic, handmade jewelry, pottery, baskets, katsina dolls (I really loved these!), textiles, paintings and more. We saw clothing and artifacts that were up to thousands of years old. Papoose boards, buckskin dresses adorned with elk teeth, moccasins, pottery and primitive weapons were among the many items we saw. The exhibits were divided by the various tribes that inhabited this area: Navajo, Hopi, Apache and others. There is also a room that contains artifacts and artwork from other native peoples in parts of the world such as Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand and South America.

To me, one of the most interesting exhibits was about the Indian boarding schools. It was sad, however, to see how our government tried to “civilize” the Indians by sending them away from their homes and families to educate them to be more “white”. Some of them had to be dragged away, screaming and crying, to be taken to the boarding schools. In every single photograph of the young Native Americans there was only rarely a smile. Most stared rather blankly at the camera and many looked very uncomfortable. We also saw the Indian that used to adorn the Indian School gymnasium here in Phoenix. My husband recognized it immediately as he once got to play basketball in that gym. Apparently they cut out the center of the floor and it was donated to the Heard Museum when they re-purposed the building. There were a lot of stellar athletes to come out of the Indian School system, including Jim Thorpe. During the summer of 1912, before his last year at Carlisle, Thorpe was chosen to represent America at the Stockholm Olympics in the decathlon and the pentathlon.

This was an educational, interesting and fun trip. The best part was that I got to experience this wonderful place with my sweetheart, who being a Phoenix Native, had some insights that I would not have gotten had I gone alone! It would take many weeks to take in all that there is to see at the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix; I’m certain this will not be my last trip!

Downtown Phoenix

While she was here, my aunt and I took a short day trip to downtown Phoenix. First we went to an outdoor market where my aunt found some nice things to take back for her sister-in-law and a couple other people back home in Colorado. After the market we visited the Phoenix Science Museum, where we took in the Titanic Exhibit. That was pretty amazing! To see how well some of the artifacts have survived after all those years under water was very interesting. Of course some items showed some wear and tear, but other things, like wool socks, were in almost new shape!

After the museum we walked downtown to Saint Mary’s Basilica and the Arizona Center. Both are very interesting in their own way. We sat and prayed for a short time in the sanctuary at Saint Mary’s before walking over to the Arizona Center, where my aunt picked up some souvenirs for her grandchildren and her daughter and son-in-law. While she had fun shopping, my joy was in taking pictures to share with everyone. Below are a few of my favorite shots of the day.

Saint Mary’s Basilica

Arizona Center

Saint Mary’s Basilica

Saint Mary’s Basilica

Saint Mary’s Basilica

Saint Mary’s Basilica

Lion Fountains

Park at the Arizona Center

Red Geranium

Rossum House

I love downtown Phoenix! There is so much to see and do in this city. I think I will have a lot to explore while I live here!

“Driving” me crazy!

Phoenix has, without a doubt, the worst drivers in the world! Honestly, I cannot get to work and back home again without some idiot trying to cut me off, pass me on the shoulder of the road or switch lanes without signaling, nearly running me off the road and/or into another car!

My husband and I think this may be some sort of malady that affects the brains of people who get behind the wheel of a car. We call it “JACKASSISM”!

There are a lot of double turn lanes here. This means that you turn into the lane you’re in…there are generally dotted lines to show you which lane to turn into, but even so, this is not brain surgery!! If you’re turning from the inside lane and you make a left turn, TURN INTO THE INSIDE LANE!!! DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT TURN INTO THE FAR RIGHT LANE, CROSSING THREE LANES OF TRAFFIC! The same goes for turning right. STAY IN YOUR OWN FREAKIN’ LANE!

A couple of weeks ago, a little old lady with a crocheted hat, sitting behind the wheel of a blue Chevy Cavalier was in the far right lane signaling to turn right. I was in the left turn lane (also a right turn lane), which actually turns into the middle lane of the street I was turning onto. Guess what happened! You got it! Little old lady in the crocheted hat turns into the middle lane and grazes my Pathfinder! And then? She takes off!!! Grandma Speedy hit the gas and was shaking her fist at me as she spun out and disappeared onto the 101. By the time I fully comprehended that she really wasn’t going to stop it was too late to catch up to her and get her license plate information. Crazy me, I thought she might actually do the right thing, MY BAD! She was definitely stricken with a full-blown case of JACKASSISM! Fortunately, my vehicle has only some minor dents in the front and back passenger doors. But, it could have been much worse had I not been paying attention. Thank God there wasn’t someone in the inside lane so I had room to get over, almost in time. And,  thank God there was no one behind the crazy grandma lady or me!

All of this brings me to an article that my husband sent me this morning. 5 things your car will finally do in 2020 suggests that your car will be able to do the following:

1. Your car will predict the future.

2. Your car will talk to the road and the road will talk back.

3. Your car will take itself into the shop for maintenance.

4. When you drive through McDonald’s, your car will be debited, not your VISA.
5. Go ahead, take a nap. Your car will drive itself.
I’m not sure that I think all of these are good things; but, in the case of Grandma Speedy, I think that it would be nice to have a car that can predict the future and drive itself. Surely the vehicle couldn’t do much worse than the thousands of drivers on the road who are afflicted with Acute Jackassism!

Live…from the Desert

After we moved here from Colorado, it took me a while to actually appreciate the beauty of the desert flora. Over the past two years I have grown to love the splendor of the Arizona Desert.

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I read that some of the largest cacti hold up to 1500 gallons of water!

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I love  springtime, when the plants are beginning to flower.

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A very ornate saguaro.

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There were a lot of bees buzzing around this yellow blossom.

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Phoenix has the feel of the “old west”.

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I must get a field guide! I don’t know the names of any of these flowers!!

These photos were taken in early March 2008. Don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix if you come here. It is absolutely amazing!

The mountains will always feel like home to me, however, the desert is quickly becoming my second home. I’m sure you can see why!

Weekend Fun

My husband loves planes, trains and automobiles. If it has horsepower, he’s into it. He has gone through phases with each one, but his most recent passion is trains. He has an N-scale model train and layout that takes up one entire room of our house. He spends a lot of time in the “train room” working and reworking his track plan. He models, solders, builds, tears down and builds again his little world.

 A couple of weeks ago a friend of his, from his former job, had a birthday party for his three year old son at the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. My hubby was hooked! I believe he could have spent the whole day at the park; however we had my stepsons, who most definitely do not share their dad’s fascination with transportation. They were good, but obviously bored and couldn’t wait to get the heck out of there to go back home to play Guitar Hero 3 and to soak in the hot tub.

So, the following weekend hubby and I went back to McCormick Stillman Railroad Park by ourselves and he got to spend all the time he wanted looking, reading, and talking about his magnificent obsession. I, like the boys, am not nearly as spellbound by trains as hubby is, but I took advantage of the trip by turning it into a photo opportunity. Below are some of my favorite shots.

Signal Light

This signal light was on display on the museum car.

Pullman Car

 This Roald Amundson Pullman car was chartered by the United States Government for transporting Presidents Hoover, Truman and Roosevelt throughout the U.S., much like Airforce One is used today.

Plush Pullman Car

I would have loved to sit here watching the country go by as I traveled in this plush car.

bunks

If necessary, the President would sleep here to the the clickety-clack of the metal wheels on the tracks.  This could be a comfortable way to catch some zzzzz’s while in transit.

Clock

This clock is a very interesting piece of equipment, there are several parts to the “face”, all with a unique purpose.

 Mars Hill Copper Mine

The N-scale layout at the park is done in modules that are removable for transporting to shows as well as for maintenance. This is the Mars Hill Copper Mine module.

Drive Carefully

I loved the billboard sign in this section! There is so much you can do with a layout when you have the space! It is truly limited only by the imagination of the hobbyist crafting the model.

 Roundhouse

This is the turntable and roundhouse section of the layout. This particular module takes up a lot of space but is one of my favorites at the park.

Desert Reds

 These photos were taken at The Boulders in Cave Creek, Arizona one afternoon late in December. I was fortunate to be shooting during the late afternoon as the sun started to go down. The colors were stunning!

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Prior to moving to Phoenix I had never seen flowers like this one! It reminds me of  coral underwater as it sways gently in the breeze.

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This handsome fellow was only a little camera shy when I spotted him along the trail as I walked back towards the resort after my hike. A gentleman riding a golf cart stopped and told me one of the maintenance men feeds this jaunty cardinal every day and that he eats out of the man’s hand!

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Another gorgeous red flower, glowing in the afternoon sunlight. I just LOVE Desert Reds!