Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hacker's Hydrant?

You tell me! I don't know quite what to make of this hydrant-plus- extension. It was across the street & down aways from my splendid chrome-plated biker robot.

The stick holding up the far end of the extension is good evidence for hacker rather than official provenance!

Biker Robot

Nothing neater than walking along and suddenly catching sight of a 10-foot-tall chrome-plated fellow. He stands down at the lower end of Granite St., guarding or more likely welcoming folk to the Electric Hog. Which is where they do custom things to one's Harley. Of course.

I was taking the long way to the Phippen show on the Plaza Monday when I happened across him. I'm more smitten by this gaudy character than by any of the incredible number of bronzes of horses & more horses I saw on the Square later in the day.

Do take a look (below) at his special features. For example, the hair-do is grand. The ears? Well, his creator might have used small dish antennas instead. At the bottom of the picture, you can see either A) his abs & insides (including a loudspeaker for belching) or B) his privates. I haven't figured out which. But the finishing touch is my favorite -- the rear view mirror welded to one arm.

Anybody out there know his name? If so, drop a note in the comment box below. Otherwise, he remains some version of "Hey! You!" He deserves better.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Things That Go Bump... the night! So there I was, late last night, working away at my previous post. And I heard loud thumping
& bumping. The Max cat was outside. Had he captured the neighborhood skunk? Had a wandering coyote tried to grab the precious Max cat?

Opening the door, I shouted for Max -- and heard heavy clumping footsteps making time uphill. Plus the telltale "huff huff". One of the local pack of pigs.

Excuse me, javelina. Got to keep the species straight.

It happens that, tho I live less than a mile from the Courthouse, my house is apparently located on an old javelina trail. The pack shows up every so often, looking for goodies.

These include the staples: grape hyacinths, the roots of any wild white evening primrose that I have managed to tame, and a handful of surviving tulip bulbs left over from more optimistic gardening days. Dessert? Try pansy blossoms, for starters. And, occasionally, the roots of a red California poppy I've been nursing along.

Last night, the beasts had found out my secret: that I had transferred most of my hyacinths to pots, in the belief that the pigs sniffed the ground out first. Worked for several years. But I've been found out. I'll have to work up a new strategy!

Like the little electric fence a tulip-loving, tulip-planting neighbor installed when I first mentioned the pig problem. It worked for a long time, even after he had planted literally hundreds of bulbs a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, early this spring, after the blossoms had opened, the javelina discovered that the fence was in disarray.

That was one Tulip Massacree!!!

But then I have another friend who loves wildlife. As you can see, below. Great picture, but I'm glad it wasn't taken here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Love That Life Force

Way back in the 50s, an audio production of GB Shaw's Don Juan in Hell was a popular record. It featured (sigh) Charles Boyer as the Don, with a major discussion of the persistence of the Life Force. About as spiritual as GBS ever got!

I think of the persistence of life periodically, especially in the drought-ridden West. I'm always impressed at how lush the Arizona desert is, even in the driest times.

I'm also impressed at how floral and faunal creatures persist in the face of major obstacles. Take the sprouting sycamore above. It's right at the Sharlot Hall corner of Gurley and McCormick.

Several years ago -- maybe five or six -- this large tree was cut down, because, like most sycamores, it had shallow roots. The kind that tilt sidewalk squares and cause Hazardous Conditions for pedestrians. The diameter of the trunk, as you can see, was sizeable, maybe 15 or more inches across.

Apparently that sycamore has a good system of roots because every year, it tries to make a tree again. And every year the powers that be, no doubt mindful of the liability lawyers, cut the new growth back.

You gotta admire the persistence of that sycamore!

Then there are the mariposa lilies in bloom right now on the Sheldon Street slope next the Masonic cemetery. Not much else growing there this year; look closely and you'll see dried leaves and dry grass surrounding the blossom. And the recent winds haven't been kind to some of the flowers, either.

But these mariposas are persistent! This the only stand of mariposas remaining in the city that I am aware of. The old Citizens Cemetery on E. Sheldon did have a splendid batch of mariposas (as well as paintbrush) before the professional tidiers cleaned things up; I don't know if any survived the civilizers.

All the Prescott mariposas are of the white variety. Go north along SR 89 and the lilies are a buttery yellow.
The brilliant red-orange desert mariposas are a lot more common in the region than most people are aware.

One location where we found them in the past: Tonto Rd. near the intersection with Contreras Rd. which branches off Iron Springs Rd. (That's roughly where the current fire is/was burning). I've seen mariposas along the highway embankment near the Skull Valley cemetery, as well as along the road between Skull Valley and Kirkland. Another location: Kirkland Junction.

But for the most spectacular combination, my vote goes to the Orme Rd. off Hwy. 169. Along this road, in a good year, you will find the white-to-lavender mariposas at the higher elevations giving way to the brilliant oranges on lower slopes. Often the two grow next to each other at the transition zone.

By the way, I am not suggesting that you'll find blossoms at these sites this year -- I haven't checked them out for several years. And it's probably a little late in the season for the oranges, anyhow.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Gurley Place. Place???

Ever hear of Gurley Place? No? Most people haven't, not even long-time residents of the city. But it's there, half a block west of Park Ave., branching off Gurley St. to climb a little bluff. More important, it provides access to all of four houses overlooking Gurley St. plus the parking lot for a former church.

Not only is it a neat little walk, Gurley Place provides one of my favorite middle-of-town wildflower spots. The property between Gurley St. proper and its offspring belongs to the city -- and is pleasantly neglected. This means not only cans and plastic bags -- but also a place for one of the better stands of red gilia that I've found in town.

Even better, last year, after our wet late winter, there was a spectacular showing of wild blue delphinium. What really surprised me was that this was a better display than I've seen out in the field hereabouts.

That was then. This is now. I checked last week, only to find that the many delphinium plants that had sprung up were either totally wilted or already dried up.


The gilia appear to be made of sterner stuff -- they are still growing. So far. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Pleasures of Strolling

If you are as old as I am...and if you couldn't Power Walk if your life depended upon it (even going downhill)...then it's time for a daily stroll. Keep your eyes open for those small surprises that make a city far superior to any gated suburb for walking.

City neighborhoods have usually been around for a while, have aged pleasantly and show their eras' and their residents' individuality. F'rinstance, I walked maybe a half mile out and back today; here are just a few of the items I found:

A classic flamingo pair...

A collectible diesel truck

A face on a tree trunk

A teacup and saucer sitting on a pole

Oh, yes, I also saw a pair of bluebirds up in an Emery oak, eating the berries of the mistletoe that is gradually strangling the life "blood" of the tree. I don't often see bluebirds -- once in awhile near a creek. Try the Park
Ave. crossing of Aspen Creek near Copper Basin Rd.

The first time my daughter, thoroughly adult and raised in the big city, saw a Western bluebird, she was amazed. "I always thought that bluebirds were something you only read about in fairy tales."

A fine walk -- as always.
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