Monthly Archives: January 2022

Monday Morning Wisdom #347

Monday Morning Wisdom #347

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
—Leonardo da Vinci

From the Creator’s Heart #344

From the Creator’s Heart #344

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20 NIV)

Return to the Riparian Preserve


“Have you seen the spoonbill who lives here?” asked a man with a camera.

“No, I’ve never seen the spoonbill, but I see you’ve brought the big gun,” I said, pointing to the huge telephoto lens on his camera.

The Gilbert Riparian Preserve is a popular local venue for nature photographers. I posted about it in 2016 and 2017, but I hadn’t been back there since, so the other day I drove to the 110 acre park that boasts a lake, seven ponds, hiking trails, a playground, and an observatory. I wasn’t expecting it to be so busy on a weekday; I was lucky to get a parking spot. The park was full of senior citizens and parents with young children. And also lots of ducks.

Water Ranch Lake
Water Ranch Lake
lotsa ducks
Lots of mallards.
feeding the ducks

When I was a little girl, we’d go to the local pond with a bag of stale bread and tear it up to feed the ducks. Bread is no longer a recommended duck cuisine. At the Preserve, only at the lake (not at the ponds) are you allowed to feed the ducks, and only birdseed, corn, and whole-grain cereal are permitted. (Most people, like the kids above, bring baggies of Cheerios.)

House sparrow
I think this little house sparrow wants in on the Cheerio action.
ring-necked ducks
Ring-necked ducks. See the white markings on their bills?
turtle sunning
A turtle sunning himself

As I wandered around from pond to pond, I found lots of things to look at and wonder about.

Cactus garden
A garden of saguaro cactus
memorial placard
No blossoms in this garden in January, but as I read the dedication, I realized it was planted in honor of a baby who died the day she was born.

Benches appear throughout the preserve. This one had a placard that particularly touched me:


In one of the ponds I noticed some wading birds fishing for food.

American avocet
An American avocet. See the curved-upward beak?
Black-necked stilt
A black-necked stilt

And further on, another turtle:


I noticed a painted rock nestled in the V of a tree trunk:

painted rock

A gambrel’s quail sprinted across the trail in front of me, and I was barely able to snap a shot before it disappeared into the brush:

Gambrel's quail

I won’t let another four-and-a-half years pass before I make another trip to the Preserve. Maybe I’ll see you there. . .

Flower of the Day: Brittlebush


More FOTD.

Creative Juice #279

Creative Juice #279

Lots of quilts and artwork.

Video of the Week #342: Sometimes You Just Gotta Watch Cat Videos


Less than eight minutes. You’re welcome.

Kammie’s Oddball Challenge: Mailbox

I love the shadows cast by the numerals–they are what made me take this picture.

Wordless Wednesday: Cactus Grouping

3 cacti

My Daughter’s Wedding

Beautiful hands and bouquet

Katie and Michael have been together for twelve years. Just before Christmas 2019, Michael asked Katie to marry him. They planned to get married in Fall 2020, but, you know. . .

Covid. No big indoor gatherings. No traveling.

When the number of infections dwindled, they began brainstorming—they could have a small, intimate, outdoor wedding. They even tried to contact a venue to get the ball rolling, but no one responded to their inquiry. As infections spiked again, they put everything on hold. No wedding in 2020. But I thought, surely the pandemic wouldn’t last much longer.

Ha. On and on it dragged. Finally, they said, “We’ve waited long enough. We’re getting married before the end of 2021.”

Katie discovered the gorgeous outdoor wedding portraits of Cassy Arch Photography on Instagram, and contacted her about her availability. She was free on December 28, and Katie booked her for an “elopement” session.


Cassy recommended several locations, and Katie invited me to scout them out with her. One with incredible mountain views would have been hard for my disabled husband to navigate in his wheelchair. But at Usery Mountain Regional Park where Katie and Michael often hike, we discovered that near the Visitor’s Center is an amphitheater with a paved path that is wheelchair accessible. Katie and Michael reserved it, planning to have the ceremony in the late afternoon, just before “golden hour,” so they could have their outdoor portraits taken as the sun began to set.

One of the advantages of living in the desert around Phoenix is that it almost never rains. We average about 9 inches of rain per year. Other parts of the country regard an accumulation of less than an eighth of an inch as a “trace.” In Arizona, rain is measured by hundredths of inches. We were confident rain wouldn’t be an issue, though as the holidays approached, they brought with them clouds and winds.

It started raining on December 24. On Christmas Day, it rained a whole inch. The next day we had cloudy skies and showers. On the morning of December 27, Katie called me in tears. The weather forecast for the 28th predicted a 10% chance of rain at 10:00 AM, and a 50% chance at 3:00. Could we possibly host the wedding on our covered patio?

Now, for most people, this would not be such a big inconvenience. But years ago my husband converted the patio into his workshop. His woodworking and welding equipment were there, as well as work tables and heavy machinery and junk. So I said, sorry, no.

Long story short, I had a change of heart. Katie and Michael came over and we spent the next few hours clearing and cleaning and setting up Plan B.

The next morning, Katie and Michael met the photographer in Usery Park for their photoshoot in the desert.

See the ominous skies?

Meanwhile, I picked up cupcakes and flowers and did some last-minute housecleaning. In the afternoon, family and a few friends arrived. Counting the bride and groom and the photographer, our happy little wedding assembly included 15 people.

We settled into assorted lawn furniture and dining room and kitchen chairs arranged on the patio. I was beat, and prepared myself to listen to the standard “Dearly beloved” ceremony.

Dad and daughter
Greg accompanies his daughter to her groom.

I should have known better. Our middle daughter, Erin, got herself certified to perform weddings, and she and Katie and Michael crafted a service that was beautiful, personal, and included everything I would have wanted said at a wedding. Erin is a remarkable speaker, and her delivery was flawless. The couple exchanged vows that they wrote themselves.

Michael's vows

Katie and Michael had their vows written out on their phones, but they barely looked at the words; they knew them by heart. At one point, as Michael was telling Katie how much he loves her and wants to spend his life together with her, he broke down. There was not a dry eye on that patio, even though we were sheltered from the raindrops that periodically sprinkled down.

With this ring

When the ceremony was over, I had to admit it was the most beautiful wedding I’d ever attended. (Okay, maybe I am a little prejudiced.)

Katie and Michael kiss
Yay! Bubbles! (That’s Michael’s mom standing on the right.)
Huelsenbeck clan
Our sons Andrew and Matt, Michael and Katie, Greg and me and Erin.

Erin’s husband, Dave, was the man-behind-the-scenes who facilitated everything and made the ceremony go smoothly. He started the music when Michael came out to take his position; he held onto the rings; he even FaceTimed our other daughter, Carly, who lives in New York so she could see the ceremony.

Signing the papers
In our kitchen, signing the paperwork to make everything official.

Afterward, we all went out to dinner together. The best day of 2021.

All images by Cassy Arch Photography.

Monday Morning Wisdom #346

Monday Morning Wisdom #346

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
—St. Clement of Alexandra