Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Lady in Waiting

In the back parking lot of the local physiotherapy office...
Mrs Goose is waiting patiently for a happy event. I wonder where Mr Goose is? I'll be going back next week, so I'll report on the family's progress then.
UPDATE ... sadly the nest was raided by unknown intruders, and all that remains are broken eggshells. I hope Mr and Mrs Goose have better luck in a more secluded nesting place.

Sunday, 23 April 2017


Jerome, Arizona.    Founded in 1876 in the Black Hills of Yavapai County 5000 feet above sea level, Jerome was once the fourth largest city in Arizona Territory. It had the largest copper mine in Arizona, producing three million pounds of copper per month.  The copper returns were pure profit as the mine operating expenses were covered by the extraction of other minerals..... gold, silver, lead, zinc, azurite and malachite.

Prehistoric Native Americans were the first miners. The Spanish looked for gold, but found copper. The first claims were staked in 1876 and United Verde mining operations began in 1883 after the Little Daisy claim.

Once known as the "Wickedest Town in the West", Jerome grew from a tent city to a prosperous town, inhabited by a mix of nationalities, all intent on making a fortune in the mines. Miners, smelter workers, freighters, gamblers, storekeepers, prostitutes and preachers, barkeepers, wives and children.... all citizens of the mining town.

In 1882, Jerome's first postmaster named the mining town after the family of financier Eugene Jerome. It was incorporated as a town in 1899, after a number of fires destroyed buildings and the town had been rebuilt.

Welcome to the town of Jerome with a giant J carved into the side of Cleopatra Hill. About 160km north of Phoenix, an easy drive for an afternoon's sightseeing.

By 1900, Jerome was a thriving copper mining town, but many of the businesses were associated with alcohol, gambling and prostitution.

With women in the minority, "soiled doves" found plenty of hardworking miners in Jerome willing to pay for companionship. Although it was illegal, enforcement was inconsistent. prostitution was in integral part of life throughout the mining years.
It must have been a rough life.
In 1916, over 3000 miners were employed producing copper for machinery and weapons for WW1. Disused mining equipment is on display along the approach to the town.  By 1918 underground mining was changed to an open pit mine after an uncontrollable fire broke out in one of the tunnels. The population of Jerome peaked to 15,000 in the 1920s but within 10 years during the Depression it dropped to less than 5,000. Another boom for copper to supply the needs of WW2, but Jerome's mines finally closed in 1953. Within 5 years, Jerome was left with only 50 inhabitants, and was the largest ghost town in America.

One of the old hotels hosts Rock'n'Roll in the Spirit Room. The place was really jumping to cover versions of Johnny Cash songs. Just walk in off the street and enjoy. 
I fell into a burning ring of fire.... I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher....

After dancing to the band in the bar, we dropped into Cellar 433 winery for some light refreshment. Two glasses of their good red wine and a cheese plate, but what are those dark items with long stems in the top right corner of the plate? They were pickled and spicy, full of small seeds. No idea what they were.... yummy though.

And while we enjoyed our wine and cheese, this was the spectacular view across the Verde Valley towards the red rocks of Sedona. The large building is the Douglas Mansion.

The Audrey mine shaft and headframe was constructed in 1918 after James "Rawhide" Douglas located a rich copper deposit. From 1919 to 1938 3.6 million tons of ore came out of this mine, yielding 320,000 tons of copper, 190 tons of silver, and 5.3 tons of gold.

Local transportation?

The Jerome Historical Society was formed in 1953, the year the mines closed. It's no longer a ghost town, thriving with tourist shops and artist's studios. It's been designated a National Historic District and the appearance of the streets and buildings has not changed much in 100 years, although much restoration has been completed, and more is planned.

The miners are gone, the current population includes artists, craft people, musicians, writers, hermits, historians and families. I'd love to go back and explore more of the streets, and perhaps buy something made of local copper.

Thursday, 20 April 2017


I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, a couple of weeks ago. When I left Ontario, it was 4C, a sprinkling of snow left on the ground, and a chilly wind blowing. Arriving in Phoenix still wearing my jeans and a sweater, running shoes and socks, I was hit with 34C, hot and sunny! People in Tshirts and shorts and flipflops. It takes a bit of getting used to for this Northern girl! Especially when the Customs people took away my sunscreen.

The first evening, looking out towards the neighbours house. I was so excited to see palm trees and cactus.

I wondered what these tiny oranges were on the tree in the back yard. They were about 1 inch across, a little smaller than a golf ball or pingpong ball. I was told they were kumquats, and are edible. I tried, but ooooh... really sour! However they make great marmalade.

The back of the house I was staying in. No grass in the back yard, that would be too expensive to maintain in the dry climate. The back and front yards of most homes are covered in gravel..... ours was grey, next door had a red colour, and the neighbour's gravel at the back was more yellowish. No need to water it or mow it.

At first I thought this was a sour orange tree, but it turned out to be grapefruit. Can you imagine strolling out to the back yard and picking a grapefruit for breakfast?
I was fascinated with the main thoroughfares lined with tall elegant palm trees. However I discovered not all is as it seems, I found the microwave towers were disguised as palm trees with green plastic palm fronds attached to the top.

I was staying at Sun City West.... a 55+ community of around 15,000 houses established in the 1960s.  Everything was so clean. No garbage anywhere. No dirty cars.  Perhaps if you drive a dirty car you get a traffic ticket, I don't know. No children. No schools. No graffiti. Lots of churches. Very few people walking the streets, probably because it was hot, and it's so much easier to drive your golf cart to wherever you are going.

There are ten golf courses, but I don't play golf. However, each golf course has a couple of really good restaurants which had to be investigated. One golf course even had its own church.
Definitely a retiree's paradise. I was there about a week, staying with my friend V who had just sold her house, so I had volunteered to drive back to Ontario with her, with the car packed with all her "stuff" including her little dog. But some time for some sightseeing first.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter Bonnets

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter Parade.

I think that was Judy Garland's song wasn't it? I remember my mother humming it every Easter.

Well, I'm not wearing an Easter Bonnet today, but here are some fancy creations that I saw in the BeauChapeau hat shop in the up-market tourist town of Niagara-on-the-Lake last week.
I don't think I've ever been in an actual hat shop before. Well, not since I was a little girl and used to go with my dad to the nearby "big town" every year to buy a new trilby. Sorry boys, I didn't take any photos of the male oriented hats. Lots of ball caps, fedoras, cowboy hats, Tilleys, even a black velvet top hat! Men looked so good when everyone wore hats. (Especially those gentlemen with a little bald spot! You know who you are....)
But the ladies hats were truly fabulous! Every colour and style you can imagine. And pretty pricey too. I love the look of a hat, it completes an stylish outfit.
I bought a fancy wedding hat complete with ribbons and feathers when YoungerSon got married (WOW that was ten years ago!) but didn't have the nerve to wear it, as none of the guests was wearing a hat. A hat is not so much a tradition here in Canada as it is in England. But I'm invited to a wedding in June.... will I be brave enough to bring my wedding hat out of storage? We'll see........

Monday, 10 April 2017

Flutter By, Butterfly

Over 2000 beautiful butterflies belonging to over 40 different species flutter about at the Butterfly Conservatory at Niagara. They were flying over my head, landing on my clothing, even landing on the ground so I had to keep an eye on where I stepped. I would hate to squash one of these delicate creatures. All colours, all sizes and shapes.

Lots of pictures here. But I didn't note the names of these colourful creatures in most of the photos. But the species of butterfly at the conservatory include the banded orangeblue morphocommon Mormoncydno longwingDoris longwingGulf fritillaryJuliaLow's swallowtailmonarchmosaicowl, red lacewing, Sara longwing, and small postman.

This butterfly perched on the back of a lady's yellow jacket. They love bright colours.

Some species are bred at the Conservatory's breeding facility and others are imported from butterfly farms in Central America, Indo-Asia and Australia. Most butterflies are nectar feeders, using their proboscis mouth to reach into flowers to drink. The Conservatory has a tropical plant collection of over 100 exotic plants. And the butterflies love them all.

It was hard to get a good photo. My strategy was to focus on a flower, and sooner or later a butterfly would land on it.

The average life span of most butterflies is two to three weeks. This Blue Morpho butterfly was dead and definitely a bit ragged around the edges, but still beautiful.

Ooooo there's a butterfly on my tummy.... it tickles!

Caterpillars are reared through to the chrysalis stage on overseas butterfly farms and then shipped via special air courier. They are pinned to the emergence window at the conservatory. The butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, dries it's wings, and then makes its way through holes in the window to the main butterfly area.

The Magnificent Owl butterfly has large eye spots making them appear to have the eyes of a much larger animal.

Both the Owl butterfly and the Blue Morpho feed on the juices of rotting fruit.
There's a rain forest, and a waterfall keeping the atmosphere humid. And helpful knowledgeable staff ready to answer butterfly questions. A great place to visit. Especially if you like butterflies!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The End of an Era

For the last few years, there has been the annual threat of closing, and then a reprieve, and the local Country Market was able to open for business for yet another year. But this time, the closing is real, and the demolition machines have started their sad work. The fences are up. The parking lot is empty. The property was sold 11 years ago and a developer is finally moving in. More houses will be built. Progress?

The Market's been operating for 64 years. It started as a livestock auction arena, Saturdays only, complete with auction ring and stockyards at the back. Farmers came from all around the area to get a good price for their pigs, cows and horses. It was a great morning's entertainment to listen to the auctioneer and watch the proceedings. I've posted about the Market here.
Over the years as the town grew, the livestock auction business declined, and the market was taken over by fruit and vegetable sellers, and of course, sellers of all manner of goods, including second hand and "junque". Along with apples and cabbages and honey and eggs, live rabbits and poultry intended for food were sold here, which often resulted in angry skirmishes between the stall holders and the anti-cruelty to animals people and animal rights activists, and subsequent visits from the local SPCA.
The old ramshackle auction buildings were taken down and new ones built to accommodate the new vendors. The Market opened on Sundays as well as Saturdays, rain or shine. There was a Mennonite butcher shop that sold delicious sausage and jars of the hottest horseradish you have ever tasted. There were businesses that sold chocolate, furniture, sports equipment, electronics, musical instruments, T-shirts, wood carvings, shoes, cosmetics, books, dog food, mini-donuts, just about anything. There was even a man who sold budgies and parrots and lovebirds a few years ago.
Cars had to negotiate the only road through town to get to the Market, and weekend traffic jams on Main Street were a weekly occurrence. But flea markets or farmers markets don't make as much profit as development for houses, and there will no longer be an outdoor market in our town. Even though I didn't spend money there every week, I enjoyed wandering around the stalls looking for a bargain. I'm sad to see it go. Definitely the end of an era.