Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lovely Lively London

Parliament with Big Ben at back
Big Ben on Parliament Rosie, Jon,  Martha
Wow Where do you begin telling about the charming merry ole England.  I have been fascinated with England since a child and now to be able to visit.  It was our favorite place to visit even though we were endeared to the Dutch people.  We traveled by subway, train, bicycle taxi & plane.  Rosie and I rode the train from the airport  making 2 changes to our hotel for $6 (4 Lbs.) while Taxi would have cost $150 !  You need not own a car with such excellent & constant transportation.  With a map and since this foreign country is english it is no problem to get anywhere.
Her Majesty's Theater
Big Ben
Westminister Abby 
I hadn’t seen Martha Hales Ball (1st cousin) in years but I don’t think she has changed a bit since we were kids.  Cousin Jon Hales (my mother’s sister is my Aunt Eleanor Peterson Hales) I saw last at mother’s 90th BD.  We had a delightful time with them.  Since Martha had already bought tickets to see “Thriller Live” a Michael Jackson tribute and we had no specific plans we went with them.  Man it was so easy getting tickets.  As we arrived at the theater district we saw that the Phantom of the Opera was playing and had our heart set on that for the next night.  Imagine being able to see the “Phantom” at Her Majesty’s Theater in London.  We felt like classy jetsetters among royalty or at least arrogant country bumpkins for first time in the city night lights.  At first we could not get into the swing of Michael Jackson until late in concert until they began playing the crowd.  These master performers finally got the bumpkins jiving with the crowd leaving us with pleasant memories of the show.  The “Phantom” was phenomenal even though it seemed to end with a different twist.  The stagecraft was 2nd to none....fabulous.  I was constantly commenting “how did they pull that off”...... the phantom would disappear in thin air and reappear on a different part of the stage instantly, candlesticks were coming up out of the floor, boat scene like magic.  The phantom and Christine didn’t hold a candle to Sarah Brightman and ???.  This Christine was played by the understudy.  Even so what a delightful treat.  I am so glad we did it for the memory now I want to see it on Broadway in NYC.  This trip is a bit difficult to talk about without bragging....we can tell no one about it down here because it has caused us both trouble in our work.  People can be so petty, envious and jealous.  Even in my experience growing up in our Ellsworth Thanksgiving dinners there were those that delighted in hearing about the trips but others were offended by the arrogant attitudes.  Well this trip is really something to brag about but I hope you kids will only be glad that your old Dad had a grand time with Rosie in Europe.
Oh but the simple pleasures of life are difficult to convey their true sensations.  The one thing I was going to do for sure was indulging in some Apple Strudels or similar treats. And wow wee did we ever bask in some delectable goodies.  Imagine a sweet crumbly ‘all down the front’ pastry filled with delicious apples that make your eyes rolled back into your head as you imagine if heaven could offer simple pleasures more invigorating.  The pastry was large enough to satisfy the eye but so flakey it wasn’t too filling with too much sweet to the point of saturation but left me wanting several more.  Wow what simple pleasure this life can offer!

Train up to Cambridge near Duxford Air Base

London Bridge in London
Orig. London Bridge in Arizona

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Incredible Monarch Winter Visitor

The Incredible Monarch Winter Visitor
The curiosities of nature are a marvelous in both simplicity and its unimaginable complexity.  Imagine a butterfly that goes through 4 generations in one year where 3 live only one month but the Methuselah generation lives 8 months and this butterfly flies 3000 miles in the fall from USA & Canada to the central mountains of Mexico to become a famous Winter Visitor.  It’s a type of hibernation I suppose.  They hang out in a particular pine tree waiting for Spring.  On days when the sun is shining they will fly by the billions.  The day we were there is was cold and they would only just begin to fly until the sun would go behind a cloud.  The male will carry the female upside down belly to belly flying endlessly wearing himself out during mating season (March).  She mates with several to ensure she is fully prepared for the return 3000 miles to lay the eggs.  Just imagine the buff Mr. Monarch says “ Wow, she is Drop Dead gorgeous”. Well that is exactly what happens to him after one passionate flying encounter with her!!  This She is identical to all other 100 billion butterfly babes.  After the fatal tryst with her partner she is ready to return to the Milk Weed of southern USA to lay her eggs.  The flight appears to take several several months in the fall and again in the spring.  Milk weed was common in Safford but not in Yuma.  There are many species of milk weed (they have a seed pod filled with cottony fiber which carries the seed in the wind.  The sap is a milky latex and toxic to cattle.  The butterfly concentrates the toxin in her skin and makes her unpalatable to most all would be predators.  It took many decades for scientists in Canada & USA who studied the monarch butterfly to find where they went when they flew south.  The area in Mexico where they hibernate is only 50 acres yet the entire Eastern US and southern Canada provides the habitat for reproduction of the 4 generations.  So it is this concentration of butterflies that is an absolute marvel.
PS  We took 4 taxis and 2 buses to go the 5 hours from Puebla to the Monarch Biosphere.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

La Mujer Dormida 2010

Aztec Legend has it that when Princess Iztaccihuatl thought her beloved warrior Popocatepetl (means Smoke Mountain) had died in battle, she stopped eating and fell into a deep sleep. Upon returning from the war, her beloved took her in his arms and left the city. A few days later two very high volcanoes emerged throwing flames into the sky.
When the emperor, her father, saw the two mountains, he said to his people:
” Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl died of sadness Because they could not live without each other. Love has transformed them into volcanoes and their faithful hearts will burn as a flame forever”

Other views of the legend and close up of Mt. Iztaccihuatl - La Mujer Dormida (The Sleeping Lady) where you can imagine you see a sleeping lady on top of mountain.  The modern Mujer Dormida 2010 with the Mt Izt in the background barely visible in the photo.  I

In the last pic you can see both Popo and the Mujer Dormida in the background with a 2010 Poblana Dormida on the wall on top of the Cholula Pyramid.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cacaxtla - The Murals Depicting Book of Mormon Scenes

Zoom in on the dates here for when Cacaxtla was founded and it looks like about 100 BC. (Story starts with previous blog "People of Ammon") Notice also that the starting date is 1800 BC with 600 BC being important. The people of Cacaxtla are considered a mix of the Olmecs (origin 1800 BC at the time of the Tower of Babel-Jaradites) and the Xicalancas.  This makes this ruin very important in the context of the Book of Mormon.

The font or bowl structure is at the base of a pyramid on the hill seen across the valley from Cacaxtla at the ruins known as Xochittecatl both near the town of Nativitas. One can only wonder why the font container that is hewn out of solid rock is at the foot of a temple pyramid ... my imaginations pictures it as a possible baptismal font originally even though later it could have been used in some other way later in a religious ceremony as priestcraft began to spread.

The last photo is Cacaxtla as seen from on top of the pyramid at Xochitecatl in the previous photo across the valley The enormity of the roof is hard to fully appreciate. This ruin and hill are more prominent and more strategic for local protection.
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The Mural of the People of Ammon

This is an actual photo of the mural as it is found on the inside walls of the plaza in the central pyramid of Cacaxtla. The next photo is the re-creation of a mural displayed in the museum near the entrance to the pyramid. It shows the worship of the corn plant with human heads on each ear of corn.

A most amazing event:  Rosario took me to a ruin of which I had never heard and about 30 minutes from Puebla City in the neighboring State of Tlaxcala.  The Ruins Cacaxtla and are not listed in Dr Allen 1000 page book of “Exploring the Lands of the BoM”. The complex was only discovered in 1975 even though it is super huge. Because it has the most colorful murals in amazing good shape they build a super huge monolithic roof over the ruins. Time permits to tell only 4 interesting things. 1. In the museum there is this chart (zoom in to read dates) which shows that Cacaxtla began about 100 BC about the time of the mission of Ammon in Book of Mormon times.  2. The people of Cacaxtla were a mix of Olmecs who originated in 1800 BC (Jeridites) and the Xicalnacas.  Maybe this why they had son many people in such a short time.  3. At the base of neighboring pyramid is a pool, a large bowl, a font etched from solid rock…….. one wonders what was its original purpose since many pyramids were temples of worship!!!!   4. The main mural on the Plaza Wall of pyramid complex is still pretty much intact and is about 7 ft tall by 60 ft long.  It depicts a battle scene (hence the title The Warriors Mural or The Battle for Power Mural) of two peoples (different shields)….. one superior warrior with sword raised standing above another bleeding warrior on his knees. It is explained that it is a sacrifice of a brave warrior. But that doesn’t jive since throughout the history of man that there have been battles and sacrificial offerings.  Why dedicate such a large space on the mural in such a large pyramid to such common events. It has to be a special story or event to give space and significance. Before arriving to the mural a native LDS member who came with the purpose of seeing that portion of the mural expressed intense interest in it. It is noised among some church members here that mural is in fact the story of the people of Ammon who refused to take up arms to defend themselves after they had made an oath with their God to never again spill blood and would rather die while on their knees praising their God.  Many of the opposing warriors refused to continue the slaughter and were converted to their God...... a very significant event worthy of being told in mural form. In the mural is the symbol of Quetzalcoatl (the Christ) and of the Jaguar (the museum depicts them as dark people). It is believed here that they represent two peoples –the good and the bad or the light and the dark or the people of Christ and the opposition. ISN’T THAT AMAZING. Well, I find this place because of these facts 10 times more interesting than any of the other ruins I have seen or heard of. I will be going back to visit soon.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Puebla is Amazing - The City of the Angels

Beauty should be free but the first 3 photos are from the Internet and wished I could take credit. these 3 are of the same church on top of the world's largest pyramid in volume (probably not recognized as such because it is not tall and is covered with vegetation. Somehow the wonderful photography make Mt Popo look much closer as seen in my pics. The "Mujer Dormida" is pictured in the background of no. 4 with "mine" in the foreground.

Next (no. 5) from on top of the Cholula Pyramid (no. 6) looking out to Mt Popo in the distance. The Cholula Pyramid is covered with vegetation and a church Nuestra Señora de los Remedios on top No. 7 is in the colonial part of downtown. A night view below on the left (no.9) of the main and central cathedral in downtown Puebla and the next morning on the right (no. 8) from the hotel where we had our training that I mention below.

As it turns out we were invited by officials of the State of Puebla to include their State in our 2010 corn project. I made it known that if there were a project in Puebla I would of course have to take care of it! In record time of less than two weeks from initial talks I am here in Puebla having finished the first week of training and a day touring growing zones. What a coincidence to end up training in Puebla at the beginning of Spring Break!!! Yippee!!! If how well motivated the government officials appear and the agronomists and farmers are is any indication, it should be an excellent project. Things are happening so fast by comparison to other areas that it is really exciting. Of course I will put in extra effort and visit often!! (Not to be confused the city of Puebla is the capital of the State of Puebla.) Rosie actually lives on the edge of Cholula (30,000 pop) which borders Puebla City (a million plus). All life and shopping etc centers around Puebla the city. Cholula has the world’s largest pyramid in volume with the Catholic church built on top. Since it is not as tall as others and covered with dirt and vegetation it is not ever mentioned with the great pyramids of the world. Because Cholula had one of the largest populations when the Spaniards came they had to conqueror it and build Puebla next to it. Puebla is one of the oldest modern cities in Mexico being founded in about 1531 just a few years after the arrival of the conquistadors and less than 40 years from when Columbus discovered the Americas.

Our training was in the Historical section of Puebla. In the evening Rosie took Ernesto Miramontes I on walking tour. We ate some delicacies that are world famous as originating in Puebla. Some you might have heard of some foods that originate in Puebla: chile chipotle, chile poblano (poblano is nickname for anyone from Puebla), mole, Chile Enogado (Em do you remember right after we went to LA Temple with Jarom then to Newport Beach Temple we ate in that nice Mexican restaurant and I had a dish I had never heard of and was ecstatic about?) Chile Enogado is a stuffed poblano chile (larger than bell pepper but flavored like jalepeno but sweet) then covered sauce of fruit, nuts and some chile…….. it is super delicious and like nothing you would ever think of as Mexican food.

From on top of Rosie’s house you get these 3 views. The first is the Catholic church build on top of the Cholula pyramid, 2nd is Mt Popo the active volocano with “La Mujer Dormida” (the sleeping lady) to the left. More later on these 2 mountains. The 3rd is the “Pico de Orizaba” (Orizaba Peak) (note: included b/c cuss word bloger is a piece of junk) which is tallest in Mexico with Popo in 2nd. Homework for my grandkids: Google Puebla/Cholula, Mt Popo & La Mujer Dormida.
Cuss word, cuss word cuss word no better yet 5 very bad cuss words in spanish!!!!! I can not get these danburn rotten no good lousey blog pics organized in order as I have explained. I have 3 choices get mad and leave (it automatically goes to draft where I just now found 5 other drafts started over the last 6 months..probably not finished for the this same this yet again will not be a good choice!) 2nd leave it how ever it falls and let you figure out which pic is which or 3rd continue for several hours more and figure it out!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Quiet Yuma Christmas 2009

The 23rd of Dec. is not the time to be arriving home and expect company for Christmas. But on 21st the Under Secretary was coming to Guadalajara for one of our corn harvests that my presence was necessary. The plane was waiting for me as soon as the harvest event concluded as was my pickup in Tijuana. However, Emilee did not wait up for me in San Diego as I didn't arrive at her place until 11pm. After tons of fun visiting I went shopping in La Jolla near the Temple my first shopping (on 22nd no less) and didn't arrive in Yuma until late that night. But before Becky, George, Jebezdaz, Kimball & Lil Dorth arrived Wed the lights were put and I was rather proud how well they turned out for quick 2 hr decorating job. Dir. Jarom, Esq arrived 4am Thur and Emilee, Cody & Liza wandered in at noon. Plans had been for the girls to decorate the inside of the house with all the Christmas traditions but the storage had put their lock on my unit b/c mine had broken. We decided that we would just go with my tree (that was still up from the Christmas before) with just the lights--red and white and with no traditional indoor decorations and not get our undies in a knot over what we couldn't control. (A good lesson b/c no one seemed to mind not being traditional.....we just had tons of fun relaxing and not worrying). We did Christmas Eve Soup Supper at the Bodines. We took a Green Chile crock pot.
Bek & Em baked pecan pie, divinity & carmels, whole ham, (NOTE: I found this in drafts having started it right after Christmas so here it is as I remember it) [NOTE2: Someone please tell me how to edit and put the picture in order of text....this sorry piece of junk blog]