Sunday, May 28, 2006

Killer Bees of Summer

Yesterday, I discovered new construction activity in the back yard. Bees were entering and exiting a small hole in one of the sprinkler valve covers. I knew that just under that lid a little bee city was taking shape. I knew that I would have to pull off the cover some time. Sprinklers break a lot. I admire the industriousness of the little boogers and they help pollinate plants. I don't want to hurt them, but here's the thing. If I don't launch a preemptive strike now and wipe out their camp, there will be a clash of the cultures when I finally open that lid resulting in injury to both sides and the ultimate end of their little condo project anyway. I must devise a plan.

I don't think life around people would be so tough for the little guys if they hadn't been tagged with the nickname "killer".

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Crop Circles in Arizona

While flying last week, Ann and I observed a strange formation in the fields below us. There were concentric rings almost covering an entire field. The rings appeared to be perfectly round and evenly spaced as they radiated from a central point. I had read about crop circles in other parts of the world but never thought I'd see one. As far as I know their creation is still a mystery. Whether by paranormal forces well beyond the comprehension of humans or by visiting aliens for their own secret sinister purposes, these formations are something we should understand. When I returned home that day I reported what we saw to the Council on Paranormal Phenomina. I hope they can make some sense out this mystery.

Say What?

Ann and I took to the skies again for more aviation practice. Ann practiced some gentle turns and slow flying with flaps down over the practice area south of Chandler. At Phoenix Regional Airport we swapped seats. I need a lot more radio practice so I told Ed, our instructor I wanted to transition across Sky Harbor.

Since the air around sky Harbor is controlled, we would need permission. After calling into Sky Harbor approach control and circling Firebird Lake several times, we were given the go ahead to across south to North at 4500 feet across the west end of the runways. This is the only way a private aircraft can fly across the center of Phoenix.

Over Piestewa Peak I made radio contact with Deer Valley Airport for a touch and go. We circled the Peak several times before receiving response. I did the touch and go at Dear Valley and over the Peak made the request to transition Sky Harbor. Circling Piestewa Peak for more than five minutes, approach control responded saying to make our request in another three minutes. Apparently, it was a busy day for traffic control. Ed decided we would go around the controlled air space since permission could take the rest of the day (the plane didn't have fuel and I didn't have the money for that). We had to go west several miles to avoid radio contact with Sky Harbor. Thanks to GPS (not invented when I learned to fly) we could follow the boundary precisely.

Ed had to complete a lot of the radio transmissions. It's complex with its own lingo and around major airports controllers can get snippety if your not on top of it. And they really don't want hear "say what?" from a pilot.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cat Memorial Stone

At some point in the past, Ann bought Marilyn a "memory stone kit". Last week, they dug it out and prepared to make a monument not just to our current cats, but to all the cats we've known (except Critter, he's the cat we try to forget). The kit came with the mold, concrete, mosaic glass and letter stamps. The two worked together creating a stone worthy of those special pets with special claws that shredded our special furniture. Ann added the homespun cat caricature so that people would know this was for cats and not mistake it for Ann and Marilyn's tribute to me. I'm sure it would have been a common mistake.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Felipe Shows Up

For those of you left in suspense wondering if Felipe, the yard maintenance guy, ever showed up again, I'm giving you this post. From my best guess, I think I'm the only one who cares but then again it's my blog. Felipe has made a personal appearance with tools in hand for two consecutive weeks. He's doing a bang up job. The lawn is neatly cropped and edged, bushes lightly pruned, and odds and ends that clutter a yard removed. I've gained a new appreciation for the park like beauty this yard has always had.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Crazy Fish Love

I've had my Goldfish for several years now and apparently they're old enough to mate. I never gave it much thought until I heard splashing and thrashing in the pond last week. They chased and pushed each other around the pond and even pushed each other out of the water. They've knocked the water leveler out of whack so I manually add water now. I keep the water level a little lower because you never know when that crazy fish love will take them over the edge.

A Nice Day in Flagstaff

Marilyn and I ventured to Flagstaff to attend Carol's graduation ceremony. Steve and I took an early morning hike. With GPS units in hand and Piggy on a leash we walked the tree lined streets of old Flagstaff towards Mars hill. In a few minutes we were at the trailhead and into the forrest. Approaching the top, the elevation change registered in my GPS unit told me I should be out of breath and I was. At the summit the trail passes the Lowell observatory where the planet Pluto was discovered and named after a lovable Disney character.

Later in the morning we all drove to the graduation ceremony at the Skydome. Steve was anticipating parking problems but we were able to roll up and park next to the dome. Steve still thinks we weren't supposed to park there but when you have teenagers in bright orange vests directing you from the middle of the road, it can't be wrong. It was a Goldilocks ceremony; not too long and not too short but just right. We all did our part to perfection which was to yell when we heard Carol's name. She smiled and waved at us as she returned to her seat. It was a done deal.

After the ceremony we all walked from Steve and Carol's into town for lunch. Steve brought us to the old Weatherford hotel. It was crowded so we ate in the bar which was mostly deserted making our banter the most intelligent conversation in the room. Leaving the historic hotel, the women wanted to duck into the row of small shops to look at things they didn't need or want and had no intention of buying but they might. Susie, Steve and I strolled on down to the corner ATM so Susie could get some cash. One of the buttons on the ATM didn't work. Unfortunately, it was one of the buttons needed to get cash. We walked to the bank and inside dealt with buttonless humans who promptly handed Susie some greenbacks. Leaving the bank, Susie discovered she had lost her sunglasses. Backtracking, we located the tinted eyewear back at the corner ATM. During this time, the women had a brush with fame when they saw, approached, and actually spoke to Eric Estrada. Pictures were taken and memories made.

Later that afternoon, a trip down Oak creek Canyon was the plan. Steve donned his cruising beret and lead the procession in Zippy, the wonder Miata. It was a beautiful day but there wasn't much of a creek. We finally stopped at the roadside Dairy Queen nestled in the canyon. Steve and I enjoyed frozen treats while the Coopers carefully examined the Native American jewelry laid out on card tables in the parking lot being sold by Indians trying to make up for that $24 Manhattan deal.

From the Oak Creek Dairy Queen, we said goodbye to all.. Whether it was the family, the weather, or the town. It was a nice day to be in Flagstaff.

Carol Graduates

Steve and Carol emerge beaming from graduation ceremonies at the NAU Skydome. The Cooper family, Marilyn and I attended to witness the conferring of degrees. With Masters degree in hand, the search for employment in the "noble profession" begins. Congratulations and good luck Carol.