Author Archives: Andrea R Huelsenbeck

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

Back to South Mountain Park

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I’m horribly out of shape. I blame the pandemic. I’m just not one of those people who said, “Gee, since I can’t go to the movies or go out to dinner, I think I’ll concentrate on doing pilates. . .”

It’s been almost a year since I’ve gone hiking. I miss it. I used to go once or twice a month. A few weeks ago I headed over to South Mountain Park and couldn’t find a parking spot. It was a Sunday. Duh.

Last Friday morning the temperature here was 60 degrees–in my opinion, the perfect hiking temperature. I drove out to the Pima Canyon trailhead at South Mountain to hike down the main trail, which is fairly level. I needed an easy hike. I took my camera with me and put on my larger lens, so that I concentrated on a medium distance instead of what’s close by. I’ve taken millions of shots in the park, and I wanted to try to make these a little different.

They all pretty much show how rugged the desert is. See that cyclist near the right edge of the frame below?

I got another shot of him a few minutes later.

Oops. The little circle in the sky below is not a balloon or a UFO. Probably just a speck of dust on my lens.

I walked as far as the intersection with the Beverly Canyon trail, then turned around and headed back to the parking lot. The next shot is toward Tempe, where my home is. It also shows the cloud of particulates effectively sealed in by the surrounding mountains.

I’m not sure what this group of people was up to, but I think maybe they have sketchpads? Or maybe they’re all just checking their phones.

I feel sorry for the people who have left items on the trails, especially for the poor soul who lost his keys.

When I got back to my car, the temperature was 68 degrees. Can’t complain.

Monday Morning Wisdom #293

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From the Creator’s Heart #290

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I’d Rather Be Dancing Irish Folk Dances

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I’d Rather Be Dancing Irish Folk Dances

If you’d told me last March that we wouldn’t be getting together to dance for more than ten months, I would probably have dug myself a hole and thrown myself into it. Here’s hoping, no, praying that a combination of masks, social distancing, and vaccination will help stop the spread of Covid-19 so we can begin to gather again soon. I’m forgetting every dance I used to know.

The Irish have some of the most beautiful folk dances. One that I love is actually a Texas line dance based on some Irish moves. Our Phoenix International Folk Dancers use an adaptation choreographed by Sue Steiger of the Prescott (AZ) International Folk Dancers. You’ll see that around the 1:45 mark the dancers join hands in a circle to dance the final patterns. (We were bored with keeping it a line dance all the way through.) We made this video last year as we were preparing for our annual Folk Dance Festival, which, sadly, didn’t happen, because, Covid. Sorry for the poor quality of the music—I didn’t realize I was holding my hand over the camera’s microphone while filming. Live and learn. Pot O’ Gold:

This is a beautiful performance by dancers who really know Irish dancing. See how erect they keep their bodies, and how their hands are mostly straight down. Sweets of May:

I’m used to doing Haste to the Wedding like this:

But I’m intrigued with this version of Haste to the Wedding danced by the Riverdance folks:

When I taught elementary general music, we had an Irish music unit in fifth (I think) grade, and I taught the kids this dance, Bridge of Athlone:

Those are all the Irish dances I personally know. But there are many more. Here’s An Rince Mor:

And here, the same music is used for Walls of Limerick. (Any jig or reel will do for most Irish dances):

Stack of Barley:

Haymaker’s Jig:

The Irish Washerwoman:

And who doesn’t love Irish step dancing—no music required:

Creative Juice #225

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Creative Juice #225

Some creative inspiration for your soul.

In the Meme Time: Raw Materials at the Ready

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Kammie’s Oddball Challenge: Fault in the Concrete

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More Oddballs.

Video of the Week #288: All About Stephen King

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Wordless Wednesday: Cholla

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Review of Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza

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Prior to 2008, I noticed young Senator Barack Obama and labeled him as someone with presidential potential, but I expected him to complete a few more terms in the Senate before he ran. In the 2008 and 2012 elections, I wanted so badly to vote for a Republican, but both John McCain and Mitch Romney ran very ugly campaigns. (Here in Arizona, McCain is something of a saint. I agree that he had many lovely qualities, but he slung a lot of muck in 2008 and acted like a crabby old man. To top it off, of all the talented women he could have chosen to be his running mate, he selected the ditziest woman in politics.) Obama, in contrast, conducted himself with great dignity; he won my votes.

Shortly before the 2020 election (I had already submitted my early ballot for Biden), MSNBC presented a special tv program about Pete Souza, who had been the chief official White House photographer during the Obama presidency. The show made me nostalgic for what the presidency had been under Obama. His eloquence as a speaker. His character. His warmth. A sharp contrast to the buffoon who, as I write this review, is trying to retain his power by any means possible, including inciting angry mobs to storm the Capitol. Immediately after the show aired, I ordered this book, so that I could savor what our country can be again, soon, hopefully.

Souza had unprecedented access to the White House. During the eight years of Obama’s presidency, Souza was a virtual fly on the wall all day, every day. He had the ability to make himself inobtrusive, unnoticeable. He took hundreds of candid photos of the President at work and at leisure, in addition to the official documentation of his presidential actions.

And what he captured was amazing. He recorded the stress of the job, the intensity of crises, the seriousness of the President’s focus. He also chronicled Obama’s tenderness toward his family and his staffer’s children, his sense of humor, and his kindness. The photographs and Souza’s recollections regarding them comprise an in-depth account of what the Presidency was like during Obama’s two terms.

I didn’t agree with every decision Barack Obama made as President, but I was always confident that his motivation was to try to do what would be best for our country and our world. He served the United States diligently, and I welcome the return of Joe Biden to White House to resume that legacy and undo the harm that’s been done in the interim.