Saturday, December 29, 2012

Return to Oasis Bird Sanctuary

With Carol and Dennis visiting for just 2 nights, Carol’s request for our one full day together was to visit the Oasis Bird Sanctuary, after reading my blog post when we visited earlier in the month with Pat Livingston.

This time, Janet was again our guide, but the weather was much colder, so we were all wearing jackets.


We quickly learned how fond the birds are of the teeth on jacket zippers. Janet knew how to keep them away from hers, and she still lost at least 2 zipper teeth to Cockatoos during our tour. One of them landed on my shoulder and was fascinated with my earrings. Before I knew it, she had pulled off a couple of beads and we never found them. I hope she didn’t swallow them! I should have known not to wear dangly earrings, but during our last visit none of the birds lit on me, so I didn’t think about this danger.

Carol and Dennis were pet store owners in a previous life, and are pretty familiar with the varieties of exotic birds. The birds took to Carol right away. This female Cockatoo got very cuddly!




As before, some of the birds were very friendly and showed off for us, like this colorful Macaw.


Others called out their greetings loudly…or was that screaming “what the heck are you doing invading our space?”


We met more of the staff and some of their favorite birds, like Jean and these nice African Grey Parrots.


The sanctuary operates on funding from a variety of sources, and encourages private donations. It welcomes volunteers to come and live on site as well.


The Quakers are illegal in some states, and several of these birds were rescued from people who had to give up their pets, or the birds were confiscated. Janet related story after story about how birds had been rescued from bad situations.


The Quaker aviary has an enclosed bridge linking two separate rooms.


Today the birds were friendly with all of us, including Dennis, who didn’t quite know how to deal with the rather ‘amorous’ affection from this Lorie. I won’t go into detail, but the bird seemed to *really* like Dennis’ shoulder a few minutes earlier, and here he’s trying to get the bird back on the branch and off of his hand.


Buddy (a Cockatiel) gave me lots of kisses, and was soon joined by another friend. These may be the same birds that liked Pat so well during our last visit.



Don had 4 birds paying close attention to him, with one kissing him, another looking up his pants leg, and another examining the back of his neck, and another sitting on his arm.




And Carol found one who loved to have his head scratched, while another one scratched her head!


I encourage you to explore the sanctuary’s excellent web site, to learn more about the birds and the staff. You’ll quickly see why this is such a special place and the people who manage and run it day-to-day are such very special individuals. If you have an interest in supporting a worthy cause, by becoming a member or volunteering or sponsoring a bird, you won’t find a better place to lend a hand and a few dollars. If you’re in the area, take the time to call and schedule a tour – you’ll never forget the experience.

Our tummies were starting to growl when we left the sanctuary, after such an informative and enjoyable tour, so we stopped at one of our favorite places in Benson for lunch: Wild Dogs. This is a new place, with an extensive menu of gourmet hot dogs, and it has quickly become one of our favorite places to eat.


Such a nice morning, followed by ‘nappy hour,’ then a walk with Shadow for me and Carol. Later, Don grilled a Santa Maria Tri-Tip for our dinner, Dennis baked potatoes on the grill and Carol made a green salad and Watergate salad. (I set the table and washed dishes.) We really enjoyed their brief visit and look forward to seeing these good friends again in Quartzsite next month.

P.S. Don’t forget to check Dennis’ blog for his report on the bird sanctuary. I’m sure his pictures will be far better than mine. (Be sure you get to the entry for Dec. 29.) Also, please forgive me if I got any of the types of birds incorrect.

More Visitors

This blog will be easy for me to write because Dennis Hill has done it for me! Yes, Dennis and his lovely wife Carol are visiting us for a few days.


As Dennis mentioned, Don made his ‘famous’ fried rice last night, heavy with ginger so Dennis calls it ‘ginger rice.’ We all enjoyed second helpings and chatted for several hours while we caught up since our last get-together in September when they showed up at the Escapade in Sedalia, MO unexpectedly.

Today we’re going to visit the Oasis Bird Sanctuary, as Carol had mentioned after I blogged about our visit that she would like to go see it too. I’m sure Dennis, a much better photographer than I, will have lots of pictures of birds in his blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Change of Scene

After staying on our lot in Benson for over 7 weeks, Don was getting itchy feet. Or, as we say in the RV world, “hitch itch.” Together we had scheduled 4 different medical appointments in Tucson during a 10-day period. We figured it would be better to make one round-trip with the motorhome rather than 4 round-trips with the car. And we could do some Christmas shopping, see a movie or two, and enjoy some different restaurants in the big city. So we prepared the motorhome for moving, hitched up Carrie the car and drove 42 miles to the Davis-Monthan AFB FamCamp.


We had no trouble getting a full-hookup site, which is unusual in this popular park. Normally we have to park in overflow without hookups for at least a day or two while waiting for a FHU site to open up. In fact, we’ve never seen it with so many empty sites, like these two right in front of us.


The weather has been beautiful, warmer than Benson and with very little wind. The desert is shining in the sunlight.

The first appointment was mine, early Monday morning, with a dermatologist. I had noticed a few spots on various parts of my body that looked a little strange for one reason or another. Since both my parents had several bouts of skin cancer, I keep an eye on own skin. Dr. Tracy Thomas, whom I had seen before, has moved on to another practice so I saw Dr. Kay (Strickland, but the clinic just uses first names).

She wasn’t concerned about the spot I thought was the most suspicious, but she didn’t like the one on my right eyebrow that felt like only a small scab but it wasn’t healing after several months of being present. And she found another one on my left eyebrow that I hadn’t even noticed. Both are Seborrheic Keratoses (SK), which are common, non-cancerous (although she said they are pre-cancer) growths. Having more than one at a time is also common. They are also known as ‘barnacles’ because they can resemble the look of barnacles stuck to ships. (Makes me feel like an old scow, sitting forgotten in the water!)

The treatment Dr. Kay used was cryosurgery, using liquid nitrogen to freeze the SKs. It hurt and stung at first, but the pain was reduced after I got home and trimmed my bangs so they didn’t touch the painful areas. I’m not including pics on purpose because of the slight swelling of my eyebrows, plus seeing me without eyebrow makeup isn’t a pretty sight! The resulting scabs should form and be cleared up within the next two weeks, then I’ll be ready to pose in pics again!

The only downside to moving to Tucson for this period is that Shadow had an early-morning appointment with the vet at the Benson Animal Hospital yesterday. Don made that round-trip in the car and let me sleep in a bit – Thanks! Shadow has been tested for Valley Fever and cancer, and has neither, thankfully. But he’s still coughing and so is still on antibiotics and special food. Some of the meds he’s taking include steroids, plus he really likes the new food, both of which have caused him to gain weight. So we’re now trying to cut down on the quantity of food and getting him to walk more. And, at the vet’s suggestion, we’ve introduced green beans as a treat. At first he wouldn’t eat them, but now he seems to like them. Great – they’re low fat and good for him.

My wrist is now almost completely healed from the De Quervain’s syndrome, after having surgery on Nov. 5. So I’ve started to knit and crochet again, using simple projects to get used to the motions again. I knitted a shawl and a scarf.


Then I got inspired to make crocheted bowls, so I pulled out my stash of cotton yarn and made a few using a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Maybe I’ll even make some bigger baskets and/or bags.


In the process of looking for ideas and patterns for these bowls, I discovered a new technique that might be of interest to my friends who crochet. If you’re not a crocheter, you can stop reading now.

To start crocheting in the round, make an adjustable ring. You can follow the link to the online instructions, and here’s how I made mine: first, create the ring following the instructions and crochet the required number of stitches into it.


Then pull the free end of the loop to tighten up the ring so you can join the end stitches and begin the next round of crochet stitches.


Cool! This proves a crafter is never too old to learn something new. I’ll never go back to making traditional crochet rings!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Concert

On Saturday evening, we enjoyed attending a concert performed by the Escapees Saguaro Co-op Choir, held in the clubhouse. Our friend Pat Livingston had told us about it, as she was one of the singers, and had been attending choir practice twice a week since she arrived in October.

The clubhouse was decorated nicely, with 3 trees covered with ornaments made and donated by Escapees members.


The trees were particularly beautiful when their lights shone with the room’s lights lowered.


And the backdrop on the stage was decorated, as well.


There was an almost SRO audience, with plenty of goodies to eat (sorry no pics of the food).


The choir members were dressed up, wearing combinations of black/white/red for the occasion.


They all did a wonderful job. Pat’s taller than most of the others, so she stood out from the crowd, looking beautiful as she sang her part.


The choir director chose quite a variety of pieces, some of which the audience was invited to join in and sing with the choir. The program included a wide range of familiar standards and unusual pieces we hadn’t heard before.


Outside, on the hill to the west I noticed the simple star and Saguaro shining in the dark.


What a lovely evening!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gammons Gulch and Oasis Bird Sanctuary

We tried to visit these two places back in October while Rey & Loretta Armstrong were in Benson, but I wasn’t able to reach either of them by phone and we didn’t catch them open when we drove out there. This time, I made sure to get return phone calls and confirmed that they would be open and ready for tours. Pat Livingston joined us for the outing, and it was fun spending more time with her as well.

Gammons Gulch is a movie set created by Jay Gammons in the high desert north of Benson. Jay himself was our tour guide. He said he wanted to buy a ghost town but just couldn’t find the right one, so he bought some land and built this town over 30 years ago.


The buildings are representative of a typical western town dating back to the 1800’s. It’s a perfect setting for western movies, and much less expensive for movie producers than anything in California. Jay and his wife Joanne live on the premises in this building that looks like a hotel. But it’s full of modern conveniences, including electricity that comes in from out of sight in the rear, and satellite TV (dish is visible on the balcony).


The number of details about the buildings and their contents that Jay remembers is amazing, especially considering that he’s only a few months younger than I. He remembers each item, when and how he obtained them, how much he paid or who gave it as a gift. Here are a few of the 65 pictures I took.



Not only can Jay play the old-time piano, but he’s teaching himself to play the banjo and doing a good job of it!



This 1931 Buick still runs, and Jay’s the only person who drives it.




Our next stop was several miles further north, at the Oasis Bird Sanctuary, a life-care facility for exotic birds that have been abandoned or need medical care.

Here are a few of the more than 70 pictures I took there, starting with Janet, our tour guide, receiving a kiss from one of the friendliest birds.


Don got kisses, too.


And Pat was visited by a threesome, with the one on the left kissing her ear repeatedly!






IMG_1397Some of the birds aren’t quite as exotic.


One of the staff delivered lunch to birds in the infirmary, while guard dogs watched patiently.


The Rainbow Bridge is the final resting place for animals that have been especially close to someone at the sanctuary.


The sanctuary is non-profit and is currently participating in an animal rescue challenge for extra funds to support their important work. If you’d like to vote, follow this link to the Animal Rescue Site, search for Oasis in Benson, AZ, and click Vote.