Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Honoring the Veterans in my Life

In my mind Veteran's Day is becoming more important every year as young men and women are called upon to defend our country. Only those who have served know what it's like to be away from home and in harm's way. It's very important that we remind our friends and relatives how much we appreciate their service not only on Veteran's Day, but every day.

This is my dad home on leave with my mom and me when we lived on Stambaugh Avenue.

My children's father Fred Gaede (second on the left) serving in Korea. He bought his Canon camera while on R & R in Japan, and he took wonderful pictures that told the story of what it was like in the villages.

My father-in-law Edson G Loftus served as a Navy pilot and commander during WWII. In retirement, he became a physics professor at the University in Jacksonville, Florida.

My husband Gary Loftus in his ROTC uniform from Gordon Military Institute. I don't have a picture of him in his Army uniform. This was where he learned how to jump out of airplanes. He claimed in later years that he had a fear of heights; he also learned surveying which turned out to be his chosen career.

My cousin Teddy Balewski served in the Navy during WWII. Not only did the guys have their formal military pictures, but they loved to show off while they were relaxing during their time off. Some of those are really funny.

My cousin Bernie Dickun  served in Korea. The only thing I remember him saying about the service was the fact that he fell in love with his wife Betty while he was home on leave and couldn't wait to get back home to marry her.

What I hear most about those who have served is their love and friendship with those who served beside them. My dad had two buddies that he kept in close contact with after he was discharged, and we would visit their families during summer vacation: a good excuse to visit Kentucky and New Hampshire..

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Empire Ranch

Fun trip to Empire Ranch near Sonoita with friends Karen and Dawn! On our lazy way there through Box Canyon, we first visited Florida Canyon which my friend Brock and I had been to last Spring. It's somewhat of a birding place that I wanted Karen to see. I had the ladies pose for a picture, although only one of them is cooperating. Our trip through the Box Canyon had Dawn somewhat puckered, because at the steepest and most picturesque areas, it was one dirt lane. She was thankful to the Almighty that no one met us on a curve.

The ranch was a beehive of activity. After we got our maps and activity schedules we took off to take pictures (Karen and I); Dawn had already mapped out her agenda.

This picture is so much a part of my life in western Pennsylvania. It's a Youngstown kitchen. Fifteen miles from my birthplace in Sharon is Youngstown, Ohio, home to steel mills, not that Shenango Valley wasn't. This is what the kitchen that I was raised in on Stambaugh Avenue looked like. Haunting to think that they had something like this in a ranch house in southern Arizona.

I don't know what room this was but the view outside was so much more interesting. It was a wonderfully cool day with a stiff breeze blowing and lots of clouds racing across the sky. If I hadn't been so intent on the ranch, I would have been concentrating on the atmospheric conditions.

Another room with a great window. They tell so much about the architecture and time period; it's a story unto itself.

Same room, little different perspective.

This ranch house seemed to go on forever. There was more than one bathroom, but this was the one off of the master bedroom. There was a whole genealogy of who had inhabited the bedroom and when documented on the walls. It was all extremely interesting. We had a bath tub exactly like that on Stambaugh Avenue.

The event was well done and interesting to people of all ages. There were roping, branding, and riding demonstrations. and vendors of all kinds. This was for the kids: decorate your stick pony. This young man named Kevin agreed to pose for me; and "Yes", he had done the decorating.

This gentleman was allowing photographers to take pictures of his team, but I seemed to get in on the tail end of things as they were pulling away. Very spirited and handsome.

No event would be complete if there wasn't some reference to my wine-drinking. Karen took these two pictures of blurbs I'd never seen before, but definitely true.

Here's my new selfie! This is a motorcycle that was in the parking lot as we were leaving.

We had a great lunch in town at one of our favorite restaurants Overland Trout. Next door is a really great gift shop. Dawn is famous for spending money in gift shops, and she was no slouch here. I must admit that her purchases were awesome. Karen caught us as we were exiting.

This is another one of Karen's great pictures. I was driving, but stopped and insisted that Karen do what she's famous for. It has something to do with the angle of the sun and ice crystals. She posted this on Face Book with an explanation from one of her friends. Beautiful end to a great day!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Finding my way in cyber space

This is  not one of my normal posts. I'm participating in an exercise to see if I can post to my blog on a daily basis. I keep a written journal everyday of things that I have done whether they be daily mundane tasks, like picking up dog poop, or traveling to a birding site followed by lunch with friends.

On days that I spend house bound (my own choice) reading, massaging photos, or playing in my garden, I'm have a big hard drive spinning in the back of my mind reliving my life, seven decades worth. I think the hard drive is about seven tera bytes.

Sometimes I'm reliving my childhood, thinking about my parents, my siblings, and close relatives. What we see as children looks different played through the eyes of a mature adult. Maybe we have a better feel for our parents' emotions when they were unhappy with each other, shouting and yelling, slamming doors and stomping through the house. Maybe we understand how they felt about money, and what effect that had on our lives in a good or bad way.

I know we all play the "what if" game. What if I hadn't gotten married so young and gone through college in four years like some of my classmates did? What if I had chosen a different career? That wasn't a problem for me: I had five. What if I hadn't had children?

Sometimes the drive spins thinking about my children: how they were when they were little compared to the grown-ups they've become. Parents worry about doing right by their children and making sure they have every opportunity that they missed. I was never that way, because I was taught to create my own opportunities and be self-sufficient. That's one thing that my children thank me for passing along to them.

It's funny how the hard drive pulls up a name from the past that you never expected to remember and you wonder how that person is doing or is even still alive. You remind yourself that you need to keep in touch with close friends and family now TODAY, but you wonder if you'll make the effort.

My hard drive is extremely entertaining, but it's only there to be brought out and enjoyed when I'm not dealing with the here and now: traveling, taking pictures, trying new restaurants or meeting new people.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Looking Back

Seventy-five years ago my Mom and Dad, Helen Sulecky and James Snyderwine, were married at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sharon, PA. It was a simple ceremony after the 5 AM mass. There is no picture of them on that day, but the one of Mom in what looks like a suit and Dad in white shirt and dress pants will have to do. There is no one that I know of that is still alive who could tell me anything more. My parents told me exactly what appears on the marriage certificate. They laughed a lot about getting married at such an ungodly hour. I find it interesting that there is no reference to the Holy Seal of Matrimony. It looks like a certificate that any duly vested person would fill out. Another interesting aside is the fact that my Dad's parents, Mary Kimmet and John Snyderwine, were the first couple to be married at St. Joseph's which was the parish that we ended up at when they moved to Stambaugh Avenue.

If my parents were still alive, Mom would be 93 and Dad 98. From my observation as the oldest of three children, I feel they had long and happy marriage.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

After the Rain

Our monsoon season has been spectacular this summer. We desperately need rain all over the Southwest and California. Marshall stuck his nose on my pillow about 4 this morning, and directly afterward the bedroom was lit by a bolt of lightening. That dog knows his stuff. Ordinary humans roll over and go back to sleep, but dogs want to run and cower at the same time. I usually get up around 4:30, so this was no big deal. I put the coffee on and puttered, but the storm didn't let up until after 6. I'm usually out walking by 5:15. When it was down to a misty drizzle, I convinced the boys that they could go outside, and I'd go along for reassurance. Naturally, I had to take some pictures. These are raindrops on the mesquite.

Time to feed my furry friends and convince them that it was okay to be alone while I went for my walk. As you can see the park has minimal drainage, and this is what it generally looks like after a good rain.

I had been wanting to take these two pictures below for some time. These are cacti growing in a rain gutter. There are two big pine trees nearby and they drop their needles into the gutter and the local birds deposited some seeds and this is what you get.

Fresh from the cleansing rain, this flower couldn't help but be a beauty. It seems to be a relative of the Ceres, but I'm not sure.

Maybe I'll take a picture of my weed crop before I get serious and decide to pull them. That's really going to be a job, but we have more rain predicted and it's silly to start before the rain is done. Oh, the trials of living in the Southwest.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

To the father's I have known:

This is my Grandfather Sulecky with my dad Jim Snyderwine. My grandfather died when I was about a year old and this is the only picture that I have.

This is my dad at our house on Stambaugh Avenue in Sharon, PA. The house was completely remodeled in the early 50's. My parents sold it in 1957 and we moved to Sharpsville, PA, a mere three miles away, but it meant that I had to change high schools in my junior year.

This is my uncle Jack Snyderwine, my dad's oldest brother. He never married and was never a father; however, he had lots of nieces and nephews that thought the world of him. At his funeral, we found out why he never married: evidently, he was engaged when my Grandfather Snyderwine was accidentally killed. Since he was the oldest, he had to become the head of the family of at least ten children. He's standing in front of the apartment and garage that was attached to my Aunt Margarite Porrecca and Uncle Ollie's house where he lived with my grandmother.

This is my children's father, Fred Gaede, back in his motorcycle days. This long before we met, probably even before he went to Korea.

This is Fred's dad. His name was also Fred. He worked for the Erie Railroad. That was his corner where he read the newspaper and watched television and monitored the comings and goings of the family.

This handsome devil is Edson G Loftus, my late husband Gary's dad. He was career Navy and served in WWII. After retirement, he became a physics professor and taught at a college in Jacksonville.

And, of course, my husband Gary, also Edson G Loftus. He was a wonderful father to my children and to his son Barclay. Here he is sailing the Sea of Cortez.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge

Another wild and crazy adventure with my birding friends!  It seems that since I am the designated guide and driver, I have the ability to find these places where there is birds and scenery. I don't promise anything, but life is an adventure...don't ya know! This time Ellayne is busy with her East coast friends at the Grand Canyon, so Karen and I are out to discover places unknown (to us). I had seen signs to Buenos Aires, and since it was so close to home, it seemed a crime not to visit. Yesterday morning, Karen and I set off at 6 AM to beat the heat and wind. There were plenty of information posts and trails along the way, but here we are at the visitors' center, which opens at 7:30 and has restrooms. Thank you, Lord! Morning coffee and all. I wanted to identify our location, but there's Karen trying to capture all the swallows flying about. She collects pins for her hat and vest of all the locations we visit. We actually got to meet the young lady who designed the pins and t-shirts for Buenos Aires.

The visitors' headquarters was actually the ranch house for the area that was turned into the refuge. Below is the skeleton of a rattlesnake. Of course, I don't know how they did it, but I thought it was worthy of a picture.

Down the road from the center is Aguirre Lake when it rains: it was bone dry. You had to imagine a lake in the indentation of the land. From there, we headed east to Arivaca Creek Trail. We didn't plan to go far since this was just a recon tour for the fall season. Well, don't ya know, we got caught up in a fantastic walk full of birds and more....

This is a summer tanager with his back to me; the best I could do. If a bird flies in front of me, I'm lucky to get a good picture. I thought I was concentrating on this one.

My choice is flowers, so this is a white zinnia. You can tell that the wind has started to blow.

I love dead trees, and in the wild no one is going to take them away, so there they are for me to photograph. This is a cottonwood, but I don't understand why the bark is crackling. That's my only word to describe it. I guess it makes the woodpeckers happy.

All of a sudden there's a slight path going up the hill. Well, that looks like fun and different. Of course. it was. A burned ranch house with a cattle chute, barn, fencing and a toliet? Oh, that comes later.

Here, I'm trying to tell Karen that I want to do a picture of her through this window frame, and all she can scream is, "Look at that lizard!" Well there he is in the bottom right-hand corner.

We encountered four or five ranches along the road, and they all had cattle chutes. Some looked like they were abandoned, and some looked they were being worked. This one was on the burned out property from two different angles. This one obvious.

This one down the chute!

Oh! Here's the toilet to nowhere!

Below is Arivaca Lake. It is suffering some drought, but is still quite a bird paradise. Karen was snapping pictures like crazy.

Here's Karen. I think I asked to her to pose. I don't usually do that, but I was looking for a particular background, but settled for a nice photo.

Love dead trees! Big old cottonwood with the Santa Rita's and something called "Elephant Head" in the distance to the right. Without a glass of wine, you'd never be able to find it!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pow Wow

The Mission View RV Resort where I live is located on the Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation as well as Xavier del Bac Mission. In early March they had their annual pow wow. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon with lots of clouds scuttling across the sky. I got there in time to see the performers get their numbers and line up for their entrance to the dancing circle. The emcee announced that pictures were allowed, but no video. I guess that allowed for the honor system, because with today's cameras you can't tell if a person is doing stills or video. All of the outfits are handmade. They are not called costumes, because that would imply that one is pretending to be an Indian, and, of course, all these participants are Indians. This I learned from a lady from Canada who had come south to warm up for a couple weeks.

The outfits had several categories and fringed dresses was one of them. Pictures were difficult to take, because the person you might be trying to shoot could be blocked by someone walking in front of your camera. So even using telephoto, you never knew what to expect.

This young lady was so photogentic and obviously enjoying herself. She had sequins and fringes.

These entrants are lining up with their numbers. I was blown away by how colorful the outfits were.

You only have to be able to walk or toddle in some cases and have the appropriate outfit. These two were just darling. The one girl seems to be somewhat shy, and is being led by the other one.

I took a lot of pictures of this young man. He was totally into it. Some sort of shuffled to the beat, but this guy pounded the dirt and moved his whole body.

The dance arena is located behind the church, so when I came out to the parking lot, I couldn't help myself. The clouds made the day!

This food area to the east side of the parking lot always does a good business, but today because of the pow wow, they were exceptionally busy, and the smell was wonderful.

Clouds automatically make an exceptional sunset. What a perfect ending to an exciting day!

These are a neighbor's petal cactus that were blooming in March. Everything bloomed early this year because of our mild winter. I'm slowly learning the different cacti and someday will be more specific in identification, especially when it comes to the different petals.