Monday through Sunday, May 8-14, 2023–Just Call Me Lefty

We both played pickleball at Balboa Baptist Church on Monday, and Kay played with her ladies’ group on Tuesday. I had an MRI on the right shoulder Tuesday afternoon and the results showed a full depth partial width rotator cuff tear, swelling, and fluid buildup—pretty much expected. Kay played golf Wednesday morning with the Lady Duffers, and a call from the orthopedic office advised that surgery was needed to repair the right shoulder; it is wait and see when I can get on the surgeon’s calendar—6 weeks to 2 months out AFTER clearances from the GP and cardiologist. I was so preoccupied that I totally forgot about a Board of Trustees meeting at Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church! 

And “speaking” of the cardiologist, my checkup on Thursday provided much needed good news—everything was good and only an annual review.  Kay’s “The Book Club” met on Thursday afternoon, where the sisters of different mothers ate and discussed the book of the month.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we’re without “incident.”

Monday through Sunday, May 1-7, 2023—A Varied Week

No pickleball this week! For either of us! It’s been a varied week And, no golf either! We did continue semi-annual medical appointments and Kay had a couple of social events. And, of course, there were a couple of church meetings to attend. For the first time in memory, I did not have anything scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday—should have gone camping as weather was great!

I did get out to shoot photos on Tuesday, May 2, and again on Wednesday, May 3. Tuesday’s shoot was at the Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area. Here are some photos, gallery style. Just click on a photo to see an enlarged version. Of note is the first of Bee Balm blooms, a precursor to the emergence of Diana Fritillaries.

Bee Balm

Only a few butterflies were observed.

A Cedar Waxwing posed for a photo along with an Ozark Clubtail dragonfly.

On Wednesday, the forecast was for light winds and mild temperatures—perfect for a day trip to Mt. Magazine State Park. The wildflower bloom was spectacular.

The relatively high number of species of butterflies was surprising, though most of the butterflies were ragged and worn. The Giant Swallowtail and Tiger Swallowtail were the showstoppers!

Giant Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

On Thursday, Kay and I got our third COVID booster injection. For me, 24-hours of misery and despair followed. I have had a reaction to each of the four injections, lasting anywhere from 24-48 hours where my temperature runs about 3 degrees above normal, and I experience flu-like symptoms, This time, after 24 hours, everything was back to normal except for lack of energy from laying in bed all day.

Towards the end of the week a few Baltimore Orioles showed up at the hummingbird feeders. Kay put our orange halves and grape jelly for them, and they bring delight with each sighting. 

Monday through Sunday, April 3-30, 2023—Medical Appointments, Pickleball, and Photography

It appears that when you get our age, one’s life if filled with medical appointments: GP, pulmonologist, cardiologist, dentist, optometrist and ophthalmologist, orthopedic doctor and surgeon, and audiologist; I’m sure there are some “…ists” left out.

Kay quickly resumed her full social calendar along with golf and pickleball. My days have been filled with work on my paternal ancestry, some left-handed pickleball, a couple outings to take photos, printing, matting, and framing photos, and church work and meetings. I thought after a lengthy rest, the shoulder injury would get better, but it hasn’t! And, the results of various medical appointments reveal that it is in fact a torn rotator cuff; an MRI is scheduled May 8. It would sure be nice to be healthy again.

One of the accomplishments realized this month was the completion of a draft of my paternal ancestry. So many hours went into the research and writing, I feel as if I knew them personally. Regretfully, there was good, bad, and ugly ancestors!

Also, I managed to get out to the Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area a couple of times to photograph wildflowers and butterflies. It was almost too late for some of the usual flowers as many had already bloomed. A favorite, Fire Pink, was in the last stages of blooming, but offered a couple of photos. These photos are from an April 11 visit. Just click on a photo to enlarge it.

A few butterflies were flittering about as well.Again, just click on a photo to enlarge it.

On a personal note, I was diagnosed with a probable rotator cuff tear in the right shoulder by the orthopedic clinic on April 21, and have an MRI scheduled on May 8 to confirm the diagnosis. This shoulder has been hurting more or less for over 20 years, and movement has been somewhat restricted. It’s likely that I tore or finished the tear in December and January playing pickleball, golf, and water volleyball. Anyway, here’s the long and short of it.  I am learning to do as many things left handed as possible, e.g. pickleball. left handed.  The orthopedic (PA) spelled the process out for us.  She said she suspected his MRI would come back with a rotator cuff tear. If surgery is recommended, and it is highly likely, then it will be scheduled after the MRI.  The ortho surgeon is currently booked out 6-8 weeks, so we suspect the surgery will be after July 1 or later.  It will be done in Hot Springs at CHI as outpatient surgery.  The doc will check the labrum and repair if needed, as well as reposition the rotator cuff tendon and repair the tear.  I will be in a sling for 6 weeks with physical therapy, then physical therapy for stretching and movement for another 6 weeks, then physical therapy for strengthening for another 6 weeks, for a total of at least 18 weeks for recovery. Combined with periodic back pain from lumbar spinal stenosis, I have had better days. So, after surgery no big trips for us until possibly late fall. 

On the upside and in anticipation of a lengthy recovery, I upgraded the computer work station to gain a little speed processing photos—MacMini, new monitor, keyboard and mouse, and docking station. Time will tell if it is faster. And, bird feeders—seeds, suet, and hummingbird nectar—have been located in strategic spots. Next will be lots of flowers for nectaring butterflies and hummingbirds.

Dodging wind and rain most days, I returned to the Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area on April 28, almost missing the Larkspur and Blue Star blooms. Once again, just click on an image to enlarge it.

Blue Star

Even a Pileated Woodpecker made an appearance.

Pileated Woodpecker

And even a couple of butterflies survived the wind.

Friday through Sunday, March 31-April 2, 2023—Travelin’ Home

The winter season officially ended for us on Friday morning as we departed Palm Creek RV and Golf Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona. It was a bit of an uneventful winter with unusually wet, cool, and windy weather. Kay still managed to play lots of pickleball and golf  while I did very little in the way of outdoor activities. The likely rotator cuff tear really limited what I could do. Even taking photographs caused aches and pains. 

Nevertheless, we traveled from Casa Grande to Van Horn, Texas, a distance of just over 500 miles. With both of us taking turns driving, it was not a difficult day’s drive. After overnighting in Van Horn, the day saw us traveling to Santos, Texas, another almost 500 mile day. And, after overnighting in Santos, we finished the drive home, arriving mid-afternoon. Unpacking was more of a chore this time around, and we both were exhausted after the adrenaline stopped flowing. We were blessed in that there were no issues in the long trip home. Even the drive around Dallas-Fort Worth was not too bad.

Wednesday through Thursday, March 22-30, 2023—Keeping Busy and Sky Diving

To say that we stay busy would be an understatement. Kay has something going on almost every day and evening; on the other hand, without competitive pickleball and golf, there are large gaps of time in my days. Filling these gaps has been a relatively easy task, what with researching and writing about the Fred and Zoula Dunn ancestry (my paternal grandfather and grandmother), editing what few photos that have been taken this season, posting an occasional photograph on Facebook, and keeping this blog up to date. Wednesday evenings have become my personal favorite as we play “duplicate” bridge with the Seitz’s. Here’s how it goes. The hand is dealt, we bid the contract, and play the hand. And then, we reconstitute the hand face-up on the table, and discuss the various bids and ways to play the hand. Steve Seitz provides lots of very helpful guidance and input. Again, my favorite activity this winter. And, Friday afternoon “Arkansas” pickleball is always fun, but the dinner and adult beverages afterward is even funner!

Sunday afternoon is typically reserved for “Arkansas” golf and the 19th hole (or 10th hole in our case” but the last Sunday was called off due to lack of participants. Instead of golf, we drove to Elroy to watch the dare devil skydivers jump out of perfectly good airplanes, and free-fall thousands of feet before swooping in for a perfect standup landing. A long wait was in order because of dust devils and heavy wind.

And then, Sunday evenings are usually concert/show evenings. Our last Sunday evening concert was Down on the Country, a Credence Clearwater Revival Tribute Band featuring vocalist and professional entertainer Mike Yarema. The was a great concert with great music. And, Mike Yarema sounded just like John Fogerty.  Mike told the stories and sung the songs of this iconic group, including several favorite hits: Born on the Bayou, Fortnuate Son, Proud Mary, Who’ll Stop the Rain, Green River, and many more!

Monday and Tuesday, March 20-21, 2023—Wild Horses and Desert Canyons

Monday afternoon, we met for the next to last HH (happy hour.) “Arkansas” happy hours provide a great time to visit, eat hors d’oeuvres, and enjoy an adult beverage or two with other Arkansans, but the number of attendees is dwindling as couples end their winter and return home. Also on Monday, Kay and I have been participating in “our street’s”neighborhood” Monday night pickleball.

The wind was howling in Casa Grande on Tuesday, March 21, so Kay and I opted to do a day trip to the Salt River area in Tonto National Forest near Mesa, Arizona, where the winds were not to high, but it was misting rain. Our goal was to view and photograph the wild horses of Salt River. We slowly passed by the 7 recreation sites where the wild horses have historically been observed: Granite Reef, Phon D Sutton, Coon Bluff, Blue Point, Pebble Beach, Saguaro Lake, and Butcher Jones. These 7 recreation sites are all within 13 miles of each other, only taking 20 minutes to get from the first (Granite Reef) to the last (Butcher Jones). There were no wild horses at any of these sites, but the landscapes were great.

We traveled further north and east on the North Bush Highway, and then veered north away from the river and Saguaro Lake. Near MP 35, we noticed a number of cars parked on the side of the highway. Sure enough, a few wild horses were coming into view on top of the hill, and they grazed towards the highway. As we watched we noticed several scattered bunches across the entire hill side.

In addition to photographing these magnificent creatures whose genes date back to the 1600s in this area high desert flowers were in bloom and presented great photo ops.

We were particularly drawn to the Cactus bloom and the Desert Globemallow, aka Apricot Mallow.

Bush Highway, we traveled south to the small city of Apache Junction, then northeast on East Apache Trail. Apache Trail is a scenic byway designated in 1998. It is approximately 39 miles long, winding in and out of some of the most awe-inspiring country in Arizona—or for that matter, in the West. A couple of years ago, we drove the section from Roosevelt to Globe, and a couple of weeks ago we drove the section from Globe to near Apache Junction (we had also driven this route a couple of years ago.) Today, we closed the loop by traveling the drivable portion of the Apache Trail from Apache Junction to Fish Creek Hill Overlook/Rest Area (MP 220). Note: Due to the potential for severe flooding from areas burned in the Woodbury Fire in June 2019, a 5-mile, unpaved section of the Apache Trail from the Fish Creek Hill Overlook/Rest Area (MP 222) to MP 227 (near Reavis Trailhead Road) remains closed for public safety reasons, due to extensive roadway damage and rock debris.

The first main attraction (4.5 miles from Apache Junction) on the Apache Trail was a reconstructed 1890s ghost town, Goldfield Ghost Town. The second main attraction was Lost Dutchman State Park. It gets its name from a longstanding legend about a lost gold mine within the mountains that was discovered, then lost to time by an infamous “Dutchman.” Even today, treasure hunters continue to scour the Superstitions looking for the lost gold. Next was Canyon Lake. It is one of three man-made lakes along the Apache Trail, and by far, the most scenic. Dramatic red rock cliffs surround the lake. Following Canyon Lake was the small town of Tortilla Flat. Founded as a stagecoach stop along the Apache Trail in 1904, Tortilla Flat is one town that’s refused to be swept away by the desert sands of time. The saloon and restaurant are famous for their hamburgers, a fact we didn’t know until later. And then, Fish Creek Hill presented itself. The drive from Tortilla Flat up to the Fish Creek Hill Viewpoint is quite challenging but very scenic. We stopped at viewpoints along the way for dramatic photos of the Sonoran Desert vistas.

Three miles east, the road passes above a short slot canyon with pools and dry falls. The road forded Tortilla Creek, up to our running board, and then soon after, the paved section ends and a narrow gravel track continues to Fish Creek Hill Overlook/Rest Area, where the road was closed.

After turning around, we traveled back to Casa Grande, winding up a great day.

Monday through Sunday, March 6-19, 2023—Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

While Kay is keeping active with pickleball and Sunday afternoon golf, and partying, I have been working on writing a book on the ancestry of Fred and Zoula Dunn, my paternal grandparents. My participation in sports is limited to playing occasional pickleball left-handed as the right arm is useless due to a suspected rotator cuff tear.

Weather continues to be subpar, with cooler than normal temperatures, occasional rain (much needed in the area), and high winds.

Highlights of the week include Wednesday evening bridge with the Seitz’s, Friday afternoon pickleball with the Arkansas group, Sunday night concerts, and Monday afternoon “Arkansas” happy hours.

Sunday night concerts have mostly been really good, but on Sunday, March 12, the Eagles and Friends Show featuring music of the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Joe Walsh, and JD Souther was average. It was the same band, The Big Zephyr, that performed for the Linda Ronstadt concert a few weeks ago, with another lead vocalist. Most of the musicians were “mature” and one of the lead guitarists pranced around stage like Mick Jagger—not becoming!

The “That’s Country—The Outlaw Show” On Sunday, March 17, featuring music of  Johnny Cash and his outlaw friends Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Charlie Daniels was really good.

All the musicians and vocalists were good, but the fiddle (and violin) player, Cathy King from Mesa, was excepti0nal. She had all the audience rocking in their seats.

Monday afternoon “Arkansas” happy hours provide a great time to visit, eat hors d’oeuvres, and enjoy an adult beverage or two. But, the number of attendees is dwindling as couples return to their domicile.

And, Friday afternoon “Arkansas” pickleball is always fun, but the dinner and adult beverages afterward is even funner!

Wednesday through Sunday, March 1-5, 2023—Trying to Stay Busy

Here’s hoping that March brings “better” weather—not the cold, windy days experienced most of winter here in Arizona.  

Kay played pickleball on Wednesday, and I processed photos taken yesterday at Picacho Peak State Park. And, we “played” bridge with the Seitz’s in the evening. Our Wednesday evening bridge lessons with Steve and Mary have proven to be one of the highlights of the winter season here at Casa Grande. We’ve learned that there is so much we don’t know, but every week it seems a little tidbit is added to the repertoire. And, the evening is kept simple—no drinks or snacks—and it makes for a very pleasant evening! Now, if I could only keep Kay from saying, “just one more game.”

Thursday was Kay’s “cut and color” day, and she was real happy with the results. If Kay is happy …

Another highlight of the week was a cycling trip on the Consolidated Canal Path in Chandler and Gilbert, Arizona, on Friday. Norm Bushee and I met at the Paseo Vista Recreation Area Trailhead in Chandler, and rode north about 10 miles to Guadalupe Road, then back south to to the trail terminus at the intersection of East Hunt Highway and South Arizona Avenue, and finally back to the trailhead. This ride was a long time in the making. On the trip from home to Casa Grande, we almost lost my bicycle twice because the bike rack slipped and the bicycle kept tipping backwards. Fortunately, Kay’s bicycle was firmly enough entrenched in the rack to keep mine from falling completely off. The problem was solved by adding a “stopper” bolt in the bike rack bar to prevent further slipping—and it worked! However, there might be a new bike rack in our future. Now, back to the ride. Make no mistake, it was a great ride. However, there were several intersections and some road noise from nearby traffic. Signage was good, and the intersections were well controlled to allow trail user crossings. Statistically, here are our results. 

26.67 mi—Distance, 2:22:09—Moving Time, 110 ft—Elevation

137 W—Estimated Avg Power, 1,169 kJ—Energy Output 

Speed11.3 mi/h18.9 mi/h
Heart Rate90 bpm106 bpm
Elapsed Time3:30:20
Ride Information from Strata
Norm Bushee at the beginning of the ride
Beginning of the ride
Consolidated Canal Path
Consolidated Canal Path
Restrooms were available along the trail
Hand-held iPhone photo
Small section of gravel

Despite heavy traffic on I-10, I made it back in time to play (left-handed) pickleball with the “Arkansas” group. There were three full courts, and we had some fun games. Afterwards, we enjoyed beer and pizza at Dell’s.

Kay played pickleball again Saturday afternoon; for someone who never played sports, she does well and is steadily improving. Sunday afternoon was for the “Arkansas” group to play golf, and of course, Kay played and won a bit of money once again; that seems to be a habit. Sunday night was a dinner and concert. The food was good and the concert was great. It featured Crystal Stark doing a tribute to Whitney Houston. She put on a marvelous performance and was backed by a great band and back-up singer. Of course her resume is outstanding, including graduating magna cum laude in music education from University of Arizona, educator, America’s Got Talent semi-finalist, and international recording artist. Images courtesy of her website.

Crystal Stark
Crystal Stark and family

Monday and Tuesday, February 27 and 28, 2023—Finally, Some Photos

Monday was Arkansas Happy Hour day. We had good times visiting and sharing, though numbers are rapidly dwindling. Afterwards, Kay played pickleball with the neighborhood ladies, and had a really good time.

I finally made it out to take photos on Tuesday morning, traveling southeast about 30 minutes to Picacho Peak State Park to view the wildflowers. The Mexican Gold Poppies and the Lupine were in full bloom.

Mexican Gold Poppies
Mexican Gold Poppy
Mexican Gold Poppy

Given that it was the peak of the wildflower season at the park, I had to wait in due for about half an hour to enter the park, and then there were no readily available parking places at any of the trailheads or picnic areas.

Pichacho Peak SP
Pichacho Peak SP
Pichacho Peak SP
Pichacho Peak SP
Pichacho Peak SP
Pichacho Peak SP
Pichacho Peak SP

Another winter month has come and gone—much too fast. Many snowbirds will be leaving tomorrow (March 1), returning to their “sticks and bricks” house in colder climates, hoping winter is near over.

Monday through Sunday, February 20-26, 2023—Tournament Time

Monday was Arkansas Happy Hour day, hosted by the Bushees, and again another birthday was celebrated.

On Tuesday morning we had breakfast with Mary Emily and her friend Tim who were traveling from east coast to west and back. Mary Emily and her late husband, Wayne, were Winter Texan friends of hours for several years. Tim was also a recent widower and the two of them are having a great time traveling together.

This week another dinner and dance was held on Tuesday evening to celebrate Mardi Gras. The food was good—shrimp and chicken gumbo was the main course—but the band was too loud and with too much bass and not terribly good. We left after an hour of music, staying way too long! 

Wind has been particularly heavy this week, with speeds consistently over 15 miles per hours and gusts up to 50 miles per hour. In addition, rain Tuesday evening and a good portion of Wednesday, combined with high wind speeds, postponed the start of the Palm Creek Pickleball Club annual tournament until Thursday. Neither Kay nor I played because of injuries, but the action was fast and furious. The metal matches were particularly good, with most finishing with close scores. I also took a Lawn Bowling class on Thursday morning. It is believed that Lawn Bowling was played in Europe during the 12th century. It became very famous in England because in lawn bowling, physical stress is minimum. Since in those days there was always a war with the neighboring countries, the same proved to be a stress reliever. Bowls, also known as lawn bowls or lawn bowling, is a sport in which the objective is to roll biased balls so that they stop close to a smaller ball called a “jack” or “kitty”. It is played on a bowling green, which are usually be flat, and is normally played outdoors., on Thursday I took a lawn bowling class.

We watched practically our club’s pickleball tournament all day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but only a portion on Sunday. Friend Steve Seitz won gold in the competitive 3.5 group. All told, there were 537 participants, all members of the club here at Palm Creek. Kay also played golf Sunday afternoon with the Arkansas group and again won money!