Sunday, May 21, 2017

To Phoenix...and Beyond! Part Four

Okay, I'm finally blogging the last part of my trip to Phoenix...a month ago. What can I say? I'm a busy lady.

My last day in Phoenix was, of course, sunny and warm. I woke up early-ish (about 7:00), but got suck watching a live stream on Facebook of April the Giraffe. I was lucky enough to open up the video just in time to see the baby fall to the ground, and spent the next hour watching until he got up.

By the time I went downstairs, to sheepishly tell Summer and Ben why I was so late getting up (they totally understood), it was warm out, but I was determined to get a run in. I slathered on a ton of SPF 50 and went out for a 5K around the neighborhood.

After the run, I took some more cactus pictures.

The plan had always been to have a leisurely morning after our whirlwind Sedona-Flagstaff-Grand Canyon adventure, so after showers and breakfast, we figured we'd visit the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.


Seriously, the museum is amazing. I asked a docent if they'd mind transplanting it to Sacramento so I can take my students to it.

Just walking into the place, I was like, "HELL YES."

The museum has every possible world instrument you could dream of seeing, sorted by country and continent. There are great videos on loop at each exhibit, showing the instruments in authentic cultural use, as well as traditional dances, costumes, and other costumes. You are given a set of headphones when you pay your entrance fee, and as you approach each video, the sound comes to you...but they don't overlap, so you're not overwhelmed.

I took a ton of pictures to show my students.

The Octobasse was really that much taller than me.

Balofone, from Africa

Mbira (thumb piano). I was so excited to see these
instruments up close and personal.
 In addition to instruments, some displays had traditional costumes and other artifacts.

Turns out the bagpipe isn't just traditional to Ireland and
Scotland. This was from an Asian country.

Puppet Theater

Indian Sitar. I am going to look into the possibility of having
a local Indian musician come to my school next year. 

When I saw the full Balinese Gamelan set-up, I nearly swooned.

Part of the gamelan

Shadow puppets

Pan flutes from Peru.
 I was delighted to see the display of recycled instruments from the Landfillharmonic in Paraguay. It's important to recognize that music is often not made with sophisticated, expensive instruments, but with what is on hand--hence the hollowed reeds that make pan-pipes, or the many world percussion instruments made of dried-out, hollowed gourds.

So many drums.

Little bit o' Scottish pride going on.

I have a lot of students from Romania, Moldova, Russia, and
other Baltic countries.

We could have happily stayed at the museum for a whole day. There's so much to see that we were both overwhelmed--in a good way. Next time I visit Summer, I'm going to insist we go back. I barely touched on the North American and European rooms.

Summer and I have a tradition of having ice cream--good ice cream, and we had found Mary Coyle's on Google and decided to try it out. We were not disappointed. I had Cookies & Cream (a favorite) and Salted Caramel Pecan.

And then it was time to head towards Sky Harbor, where we got briefly lost before finding the drop-off for Southwest Airlines. I had the most expensive cheap dinner ever (something like six bucks for the "snack" below) and went on a long hike in search of a few more post cards for my brother.

Finally, it was time to board.

Sky Harbor has great carpet. 
I took two pictures out the window as we flew away from Phoenix, and two more as we flew in to Sacramento to a lovely California sunset. 

Home again, home again!
It was a great trip--Summer and I have great adventures, but this was definitely one of our best. We saw so many interesting places. I really appreciate the beauty of the Southwest--it's a beauty unlike anything I've experienced in California.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bloomin' Awesome

My mom is a talented gardener, in that she can keep a whole yard of plants and flowers and shrubs alive through long, hot California summers. It's remarkable, and, of course, her garden has been well-documented here and on my Facebook page.

So with Casa Meg settled on the inside, I decided, about a month ago, to create my own little garden, on the tiny balcony that I call my own.

It started with two small houseplants that weren't getting enough sun in my living room, a pot of mini daffodils, and a small bucket from the Target Dollar Bins in which you get a few forget-me-not seeds and a dry pellet that turns into soil when you add water.

Daffodils are hardy little souls (that's why their my favorite--I identify) and so I've never been too worried about those. But the houseplants were dying slowly and I was never sure the forget-me-not sprouts would do much of anything.  But I persisted, and added. I hung a hummingbird feeder--no takers yet, sadly--and adjusted how much sun everyone got. I have asked Mom so many questions, and with her advice, I have managed to keep everyone alive even as I add to the crowd.

New growth! I soon dead-headed all those brown leaves and now
this one is looking great.

A couple of weekends ago, I got a bit of a bee in my bonnet and went to the OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) across the street. One hour and about twenty bucks later, I had a small pot, some potting soil, some Allyssum, and Savlia. Oh, and a package of citronella tea lights. I went home and gamely set out to plant my new charges...and I discovered that dirt under the fingernails isn't so bad. There's something immensely gratifying about helping things grow.

By the time I was finished, the sun was setting, so I lit a few of the candles and relaxed for a bit.

Now, I've got a daily routine. I enjoy going out and checking on everyone, gently cooing to them when new growth appears, and singing to them about how pretty they are (I'm told this works, so I'm rolling with it). I've started saving tea leaves, egg shells, and produce waste to blend into a vile mixture that nourishes the soil. Mom uses this with great success, so I now have three plastic food storage containers of the stuff chillin' in the fridge.

It's really lovely out there now, perfect for Sunday brunch after a four-mile run.

Now that I've had some success, I'm adding even more. Mom gave me cuttings from two of her geranium bushes, and I bought some basil because summer is coming, and I'll be needing fresh basil with my tomatoes and mozzarella.

I moved the shelf over to get it a bit more out of the sun, as on particularly hot days, my little garden gets parched and unhappy. I almost lost my was a very close thing.

My forget-me-not sprouts are growing like mad, and I'm so proud.

This past weekend, I added yet more--a bigger pot with some marigolds, more allyssum, and some gorgeous lantana, which I've seen all over Mom and Dad's neighborhood and I absolutely adore.

Lantana--it's so multi-colored and pretty. One of my favorites
in a garden.
 While all of this was happening, I was on the lookout for the perfect garden gnome. I didn't want a California Surfer Dude Gnome, or anything like that, just a simple, small one to watch over my wee garden. I found him at Hobby Lobby.

A little colorful touch.

The lantana is going to be fabulous.

As I mentioned, my basil went into some distress--it got blown off the shelf one day and dried out. I've babied it along, and I'm getting new growth!

One of the original houseplants that I almost killed, showing
signs of coming back. 

It's almost ridiculous how satisfied I feel every time I glance out at my tiny balcony garden, knowing that I'm keeping it alive, and feeling happy every time I go out and water and check the soil. I hope to buy a larger pot soon to keep on the floor of the balcony, for some summer annuals. In the fall I'll replant my daffodil bulbs in a bigger container, and some bulbs that Mom has from her garden, so that next spring, their happy faces will greet me just as I'm starting to get sick of winter.

Garden Girl