Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Cigar Store Indian

I don't know if these statues of Native Americans are true cigar store Indians or not. Perhaps, in this day of easily bruised feelings and political correctness, many people don't even know what a cigar store Indian is. There's a very informative article at the Collecting Channel which says, among other things, that:

The most common shop statue in the 1800s was undoubtedly the Cigar Store Indian. Known as shop figures, these carved wooden statues stood in front of tobacconists' shops in almost every city across North America throughout the 19th century... Today, top examples of antique wooden Cigar Store Indians sell for as much as $100,000, depending upon the condition, artistic integrity, quality and intricacy of the carving.

This smaller guy (above) looks as though he was designed to hold cigars in his right hand -- the function of such a statue in a day when there were no billboards and a quick visual was the clue to a store's goodies.

The photos of the figures in the top three pictures were taken at one of the two old depot buildings out Iron Springs Road; I found the fellow below on our family drive out to Ponderosa Park last week.

It would figure that with prices as high as $100Gs for the Real Thing that the production of cigar store Indians proceeds apace. Consulting The Google produced almost 70,000 links! At this site some 39 different models are offered; another source shows step-by-step pictures of the figures being made by craftsmen in Thailand, of all places.

When my husband and I first moved out to this area in the 80s, there were two workshops producing cigar store Indians on US60 just east of Wickenburg (and one of the local Western curio shops on Whiskey Row had such a sculpt outside on the sidewalk.) The Wickenburg shop we visited was using a pantographic mechanical set-up to shape the figures from a master, which were then painted in different styles and colors. The last few times we made the trip to Sun City via US60, the shops were gone.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Nostalgia by Mail

No, I'm not taking money to blog about someone's biz. Fact is, it's very cold up here in the mountains tonight. I want to curl up in a pile of warm fuzzies as fast as possible. Aha! How about a post about what Mom/ Greatgrandma is getting her smallest great granddaughter for Christmas. See, Mom got this catalog -- and there was a Raggedy Ann (and Andy) on the cover and she remembered my own Raggedy Ann from oh so long ago and decided the little one should also have a similar doll.

That's where this started. But if you've never browsed the Vermont Country Store, you've got a treat coming. On the one hand, expensive candies from Europe (including Mozart chocolates like I always found in my room at the Intercont in Vienna); on the other hand, night shirts, yet, and Restless Legs Cream. Snuggies, long johns (in silk, too), chenille bedspreads. Bay rum and badger shaving brushes for the gents. Evening in Paris perfume and imported English tea pots for the ladies.

If these don't push your nostalgia buttons, I've no idea just what will! Try visiting the Vermont Country Store web site for a real G.O.D. (Good Old Days) fix. Me, I'm about to curl up in the middle of a bunch of warm fuzzies!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No Home for HOAs in Free-Wheeling Woods

Oh, I'm sure that there are enclaves in the forest where stiff, uptight rules Protect Property Values and an overblown, citified sense of propriety. Fortunately, the uphill/ downhill streets in Ponderosa Park that I climbed the other day were the picture of a more relaxed approach to home ownership and landscaping.

Cool signs...

A little, volunteered rest stop/park, dominated by a fine chain-sawed totem pole with three bears climbing up to the topmost eagle... an assortment of rustic seating suitable to the forest setting...

...a tent that may have or may not have been part of the park-let. Nonetheless, an open invitation to kids.

And the finale -- a door opening to nowhere, one of my favorite mysteries.

Days later: The forest service has given Ponderosa Park people a permit to decorate some of the trees (something some have always done, anyhow.) In the Courier article, a homeowners association was mentioned. It wasn't made clear how many of the residents of the area belong.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Look at Lava...

There's nothing like a road trip to learn a little local geology. Aside from 89A over Mingus Mountain, my favorite earth science lesson is the short climb out of the Verde Valley through the Copper Canyon pass on I-17. Besides, the cuts through the mountain are very pretty, if you like that sort of thing. I do. Returning from my Flagstaff weekend gave me an opportunity to see what kind of photography is possible from the co-pilot's seat in the little green car. It turns out that the shutter is fast enough to let me take pictures from a car moving at highway speeds!

Take a look at that mesa capped by a lava flow up ahead! That's the elevation we're headed for.

The wall to the right (above) has a thick layer of grey basalt on top of well baked soil which in turn looks like it is sitting on older lava.

The obvious lava here is underneath the baked soil. But there must have been lava atop that to cook the dirt!

This mountain slice appears to include at least three different basaltic episodes, including a flow that filled a major crevice in the older hillside, as outlined by the pink.

Stripes like these are particularly stunning in the late afternoon or early morning sun. Brings out the red in the one-time soil layer.

As our car nears the top of the pass, the grey basalt capping the mesas is very evident. Reminds one of gnomes and similar creatures.

The final road cut at the very top of the pass is missing the lava cap. Either it eroded away or perhaps it never existed!

These two pictures (above and below) are a reminder that the same sorts of road cuts exist within the Prescott city limits! The traffic light is just beyond the entrance to Costco on SR69, while the picture below immediately precedes the entrance to the WalMart coming from the East. By the way, for a really good look at the rock layers, pop into the WalMart parking lot. Gives you an idea of what Glassford Hill (our local volcano) was up to 14 million years ago.

The Glassford Hill basalts continue across SR89 south of the Dells and over past Willow Creek Road. If you take a good look at those huge 1.4 billion year old granites of the Dells, you will see that they disappear under the northwestern flank of our volcano.

If all this rock and geologic talk gets to you, Wide World of Maps down in the Valley has a geologic map of Yavapai County. If you go to their site, you might also look for a cool book -- Roadside Geology of Arizona. Or buy the book locally at The Worm or possibly Sharlot Hall Museum store. I also have in my library A Prescott Area Geologic Field Guide for Earth Science Week 1999 which I probably bought at a meeting of the local archeological society; no mention of it by The Google, so I can't recommend a source other than the library.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Joy to the World!

If Xmas at WalMart consists of Stuff in Boxes on Shelves, Christmas at the Watters nursery consists of much more traditional (and not-so-traditional) trees. By Thanksgiving, the interior store is cleared of seeds, bulbs, and assorted gardening accoutrement -- and the trees go up.

The family was in town for Thanksgiving, making this the ideal weekend for a Watters Christmas treat for the young 'un.

Almost all of the trees are themed (all teddy bears, for example) and there is an incredible assortment of ornaments (for sale, of course), but most are traditional...

But some of the themes are bit oddball. F'rinstance, the cowboy tree (above and below)...

...topped, of course, by a Stetson and flanked by America's Cowboy Himself.

This tree is ornamented with sports memorabilia -- plus blown glass hamburgers!

More pop items, including a piece of pizza as well as a Harley.

Grand ornamental poinsettias, natch, at a nursery Christmas display!

In closing, a picture that literally shouts "Joy to the World!"

Friday, November 24, 2006

Local Link of the Day

Very, very local, at that. In fact, settle for personal. I had thought of doing a brief on our family Thanksgiving (they had absolutely lovely salmon as an alternative to turkey over at Las Fuentes.) But the daughter and granddaughter spent the night -- and the OmegaMom did a couple of Thanksgiving pictures, so I'm just going to link into that! Take your time looking at the beautiful granddaughter -- and her dance! I don't believe I have mentioned that she's enrolled in a ballet class. And I'd better add that I might not be doing a post tomorrow night -- I'm going up the hill to Flag this afternoon after we do the Christmas trees at Watters!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

After All These Years, Boy Envy Remains

I really shouldn't complain. Nobody told me I couldn't buy that cool boy's Tshirt, after all. And only $5.69, at that. I wore it today, complemented by silver shoes and a lovely Celtic hair doodad given me by the daughter and SIL.

My complaint isn't that of the feminist crowd, really. No, what I learned early in life is that boy things tended to be interesting, while girl things tended to be, well, sort of wimpish. Boys' bicycles were more comfortable to ride, in my experience. Later in life, I discovered that boys' shirts were less expensive to have laundered than exact copies for women ; yes, of course I bought the boys' shirts -- I'm not stupid!

Oh, yes -- there's a reason that boy's (or men's) levis were adopted by many female type people -- they ride low on the hips, which is a helluva lot more comfortable than tight waistbands! Even for me at my extended age.

Further, I became aware quite early in life that careers for boys were much, much more interesting (and varied) than the usual openings for females. Therefore, I made sure that I didn't learn learn to type when I was in high school (a move I regretted much later, but at the time I resolved not to become a secretary!)

I deliberately did not become a teacher or a nurse or a social worker. Tried chemistry, but found I wasn't cut out to be a scientist. Journalism, of a sort, fit. I wasn't tough enough for the rough and tumble world of the daily newspapers, but found magazine work just right.

There it is. My life in a nutshell. I still buy boys' clothes when I find the right ones. The daughter points out that I am small enough to fit the dang things. Good fortune for me. I sure like that tiger with the pair of silver dragons up top.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Holy Mole!

Between June 1946 and the summer of 1949, something terrible happened to Arizona. Amnesia, perhaps, or Taco Bell (or a precursor). I'm not sure which. What I do know is that during my two years at Phoenix Junior College, every Thursday the cafeteria served enchiladas en mole. And that when my friends and I went down to South Central Avenue to Mexican restaurants, the combinacion plate included enchiladas en mole. But, when my first husband and I returned to Phoenix briefly in 1949, there had been a proliferation of Mexican restaurants, none of which had ever heard of mole.

In the meantime, back in Chicago, there opened a number of Mexican restaurants. Amost all of which served enchiladas en mole. In all my subsequent years in Chicago, I never had a problem ordering mole in a Mexican restaurant, whether fancy or cheap.

I should explain. Mole has nothing to do with rodents who live underground; besides, you pronounce the final "e". Mole is a sauce or gravy usually containing unsweetened chocolate, spices, ground seeds (pumpkin, for example) and thickening agents. No tomatoes. It is yummy. It beats those red "enchilada sauces" all hollow!

Perhaps, I thought when we returned to Arizona, a full recovery from amnesia (or Taco Bell-ization) might have occurred. Nope. Not as far as I can tell.

Yes, one can get mole in Prescott. March over to your neighborhood Safeway or Fry's or Wal-Mart (where I took the pictures). There it is. If I have company, I can easily whip up chicken en mole, thanks to Dona Maria. Or La Costena. But it would be oh so cool if a local restaurant would just buy a few jars and make me some enchiladas en mole so I don't have to do the dishes!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rolling Stock

If you want to see a real train, head over to Skull Valley or, better yet, to Flagstaff on the main line where a long coast to coast freighter rolls through town every few minutes. In our town, where the Santa Fe was once the king of the road, we're down to one little segment of track on an isolated bridge plus assorted toys and nostalgia in big and bigger packages.

Toys for sure. At any event that attracts the carnies, little kids relive the romance of the rails. Here at the recent Air Show.

For adult play, there's the Prescott trolley, which ferries tourons around town during summer events. More recently, it's been parked over by Chuy's on Miller Valley...

...promoting an even more playful role in life. When I passed by Chuy's yesterday, the trolley was missing. I wonder if it's retired to the barn, up in Jerome with a carload of batchlorettes, or what?

Another plaything, this little fellow, suitable only for parades and such, is back at its post along Miller Valley Road outside the costume store.

Now here's a reminder of what serious business railroading was once upon a time. An engine serving local mines, this piece of rolling stock is located in the upper Sharlot Hall parking lot along with a lot of other heavy iron from mining days.

This is a serious, if grounded use for old rolling stock -- as a big storage bin. I always dreamed of owning four such freight cars, preferably refrigerated units, which I would locate in a square, creating an atrium and a spacious well insulated home.

To those of us old enough to have enjoyed railroad travel, this old depot really plucks the heartstrings. It remains the town's most visible remnant of a bygone age. There's one other -- those very strange diagonal property lines still found between the old fairgrounds and the depot. One of these days, I'll map out where the railroad tracks went through town.

Link of the Day

Years ago my Uncle Max worked for Coronado National Forest, out of Tucson. My younger brother and I were invited down from Phoenix for a couple of days. So Uncle Max drove down on his Indian (I believe) motorcycle, while Aunt Betty drove the pick-up truck. We were parcelled out between the two of them. That's my only bike ride in my whole life -- and it still is memorable. Wind in my hair as we raced across the desert -- all the Good Things. By way of introducing a site with a batch of historic and antique motorcycles, starting with the 1885 Daimler.

Monday, November 20, 2006

In Which I Commit the Great Shopping Sin

That's right, I went shopping at the WallyMart today. Now, I do have a problem with WalMart, mind you. But it's not the usual complaint (wages, Chinese imports, etc.) No, it's the fact that I can't get out of the dang place without dropping at least a C-note. So much for everyday low prices!

While the amount of Stuff can be overwhelming, especially as we approach the Xmas gifting extravaganza, I felt it my duty as an American to do a walk-through today.

Besides, how can a non-driving sort come by copies of mail box keys, a CO alarm (recommended by my plumbing/furnace man), cardboard cookies, my first El Cheapo cell phone (recommended by my favorite aged-in-grade techie Bad Boy), obscure vitamins, grapefruit and a t-shirt with a dragon on it -- all at one place?

Of course, I had to look at the toy Stuff. Not done-up, Xmas-style like you'd find at many stores, but with bikes hanging from the warehouse ceiling...

...boxed barbies...

...and a belly-baring Bratz doll on plain wire rack shelves.

Next to all the toys, the battery concession. Logical.

On to the adult toys. Games. Flat panel TVs. Too bad WalMart doesn't do that zillion-screen TV display thing that so mesmerizes me over at Sears!

A splendid assortment of fabrics for those who sew special Stuff for Christmas. Tho I was a bit taken aback by the Disney (huh?) sewing machine below. It must have built-in designs or some such. By the way, I have found that WalMart carries almost as many fabrics as the JoAnn superstore nearby.

And, of course, there's the Pink and Lavender for little Princesses department. My daughter has warned me about the rampant pink and purple problem! Ugh.

My cynical self says that the complaints about low wages and chintzy benefits at WalMart really took off after the boys from Arkansas decided to tackle the supermarket biz. Why? Because that's the one segment of retail in which the unions have been strong and wages reasonably good. Plenty of room there for the old price squeeze! My cynical self also faults critics for not admitting that in general, retail wages and benefits have always been lousy--long before old Sam Walton had his great idea of a superstore for the small towns of America.

The food selection is pretty good with certain exceptions. Note that there is no cheese packaged in Black -- the standard wrap for decently, bitingly sharp cheddar (the only kind that's worth taking space in my fridge.) Good booze to go with cheese and crackers, tho.

For the record, a look at the exchanges counter. I'm sure that it will look a lot different after Dec. 25!

And here's my basket ready for check out. Yep, way over that $100 minimum I mentioned at the beginning!
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