Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mucking Up the Mountainside

The rise in this picture is the lower, Southeast slope of our very own volcano, Glassford Hill. For most of my years in Prescott, it was a pleasant small mountain, clean, with no man-mades to ruin the prospect. No longer. Prescott Valley can't grow fast enough for its city fathers. So what's wrong with a car dealer up on the mountainside. Good way to get noticed. Especially at night, when the place is all lit up. In fact, it is so bright that a friend and my daughter, independently, call it The Mother Ship. Truly garish, it is.

In contrast: this huge hillside apartment complex which matches the basalt outcroppings and almost looks as if it might be a monastery. The architect or builder should be congratuated for restraint, tho I'm told that at night, when the tenants all are home from work, the lights do come on.

Nearby, a sight that truly makes me shudder -- blades lined up cheek by jowl on both sides of SR69, California-style, ready to flatten more mountain for more shopping center. Just what we need -- lots of sales tax for the government and low-pay retail jobs for the subjects. BTW, I'm not ranting -- just commenting. But take a read of former PV councilman Tom Steele's blog, The Truth Prescott Valley. Might well get your juices worked up. And while I'm on the subject of PV, Steve Words had something to say about a concert at the new arena over east of Glassford Hill.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stuffed Toy Overload!

I've named this post in honor of a site that I may have recommended in the past: Cute Overload. This is a first cousin, but live and here in Prescott. You may recall that on Saturday, friend Georgene and I escaped from our cages for lunch and an excursion to favored spots. One of which is the big resale operation run by N.O.A.H. over at the corner of Granite and Walker Streets. Benefits homeless animals, so it's a good cause, as well as a place to score interesting finds. (Georgene walked out with a telescope.)

I started out looking at books and records; Liberaci LP anyone? It was after I scanned the books and 8-track tapes that I became aware that the entire store was absolutely awash in stuffed animals. Everywhere I turned.

Occupying the high chairs.

Ensconced on a drawing table, together with four pictures.

Sharing an overstuffed chair.

Flounced out on a barstool.

Straddling a huge collection of shirts.

In addition, there were several racks chockablock full of smaller stuffed animals.

And to top it all off, high on the wall above the shoe racks was a large painting. Of teddy bears.

Reviewing my pictures, I remain overwhelmed by the size and the number of stuffed toy creatures. I wonder how many there are per capita in the USA. I worry about how precious an individual toy bear or rabbit or dog or cat can be when a child's room is paved with critters, as was my daughter's tiny room at one time and another. I grew up in a more Spartan world (the Great Depression was upon us) and had the one precious little brown teddy bear above, named Julius Otto, plus a couple of stuffed critters sewn by my mother to match dresses she made. JO has been around a long, long time -- Mom had to redo his face. I wonder how long Fred, the granddaughter's white bear above, will last.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Garbage Past and Present

There's this relic of the past just around the corner. It's hard to see the chain -- but that's one lid that obviously never got tossed around on garbage collection day or turned into a hoop to roll down the hill and disappear forever. Of course, the question is: how come it's still there. Something sentimental, no doubt. It has to be...

...cause it's been a long time since the city distributed the standard green and blue tipsters to every household in town.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Evolution: From Rock Shop to Gemstone Beads

Friend Georgene is about finished with her new beading book; Saturday was a day to escape her cage. I'm still slaving away on a huge database -- but needed a complete change of scenery. Besides, I have a birthday next Thursday; a birthday lunch was in order. Followed by a visit to Arizona Gem and Beads, over in PV.

For her, an indulgence in gorgeous new materials (and practical tools.) For me, a feast for the eyes (and color for the camera.)

A varigated array of individual beads...

...and brilliant strings of gemstones as well as glass seed beads. tools for work either muscular or delicate.

The availability of tools reflects the store's origins as a rock shop. Back in '81 when my husband arrived in the Prescott area, one of the more interesting stores he visited was Arizona Gems and Minerals, then on South Montezuma. Turned out that the owner, George Koldoff, was a lansman from Chicago. He even stocked fossils from the old Coal City strip-mining ponds south of ChiTown.

Over the years, we visited often, buying pretty polished river stones, picture sandstone slices, the occasional fossil, and mineral samples. The store moved to Gurley Street (near the Frame and I), then to the present Prescott Valley location. In later years, we lost touch but it remains a family business, now run by Koldoff's son plus grandson. I miss the older stock of rocks and minerals, but beading is in fashion , geology less so, I guess. That's change for you. Besides, I got the impression that expansion may make room for minerals again. After all, I did find some polished agate for my grandkids.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Sad Finish to an Historic Building

The Coronado Apartment building at Montezuma and Willis was built shortly after the turn of the century as a boarding house for railroad workers, according to the Courier. (The old depot and railroad yard were just around the corner, back when trains actually came into Prescott.) The historic building is no more, following a fire that gutted it last Wednesday.

Fortunately, only one tenant of the structure was injured. But it's sad to see history disappear right in front of our eyes. If I engaged in magical thinking, I'd say that this block of Montezuma is jinxed. Remember the former restaurant/bar up the street? On the other hand, there is another old apartment building (this one without an historic sign in front) which did survive a fire nearly a year ago.

What's the future of this corner? It's well underway across the street from the burned out hulk; the Compass Bank will occupy much of this new edifice; don't worry -- the yellow is slowly disappearing beneath a brick skin. I would guess that the apartment fire has created a choice piece of downtown real estate.

Note: Despite today's pictures, I'm not attempting to do on-line news -- for that, you might consider an on-line subscription to the Courier. Not only is the newspaper now posting its entire content, but it even features blogs written by staff members and its new web editor. Also the paper links to locally oriented blogs (including Walking Prescott--thanks, guys!) Free to present subscribers, but cheaper on-line only.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Virtual Pressed Flowers?

You know the drill: if you are a proper Victorian lady, you pluck a pretty here and a pretty there from your garden and carefully place them in the middle pages of a large, heavy book to dry. If you caught the bridesmaid's bouquet at a wedding, you might do the same with one of the blossoms (although roses are mighty hard to really flatten!) And if you are a botanist gathering field specimens, you have special papers and pressing frames to lug out into the field -- or at least to your camp.

What happens to carefully selected and pressed flowers? Often, they are forgotten and found by a grandchild exploring grandma's library for the first time. Rarely, they are arranged and framed, like the displays above. One was made by my mother-in-law, the other by my husband. The botanists' finds join others in one herbarium or another.

A more modern form of the classic pressed botanic specimen is this collection of autumn leaves my nephew's wife sealed between two layers of sticky shelf plastic. I've had this panel on my office doorway for well over 15 years. Much of the color has faded, tho the reds still make their presence known.
For the up-to-date version of pressed flowers, take a look above. One day, the late husband had this bright idea and sent me out to my potted garden to gather flowers and leaves. He arranged the specimens on the platen of our new HP scanner and let her rip. I guess you could call the result virtual pressed flowers (and leaves.) Here are some of the scans I found in the archives:

Virtual advantages: the colors are almost as brilliant as the original (and can always be PhotoShopped to outshine Nature.) Why not just settle for photographs? At the time these were made, LH was still working with film which took t-i-m-e (finish the roll, take it to be processed, wait a couple of days, pick it up, scan it. Ugh.) Today? I'm not so sure; specimens can rapidly be arranged, photographed and downloaded tho a real herbarium specimen offers the botanist DNA for potential study in the future. However, for the lay person direct scanning is an interesting design approach. It certainly isn't limited to plant material!
At the time we were playing around, scanning was new to us. In retrospect, I am reminded of the early days of that ubiquitous office scanner of the 60s, the Xerox machine. Youngsters who never had to cope with purple ditto masters or correcting typos on a mimeograph stencil will never ever understand in their guts what a Revolution the Xerox brought to the world. Or what a great new toy it was. Office wags made copies of their bare bottoms; prissier ladies copied their keys, and the kids -- their hands and anything they could lay their hands on. Suddenly everybody was a publisher. Which probably helped bring down the USSR.

I already have a couple of projects in mind dealing with material that is difficult to light properly. When I get my own, comfy computer back. (I still feel like I am working in a motel room and forgot to bring along all the right gear.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Flags for the Current Season

Brrr! That's the message of this seasonal flag I caught when walking the neighborhood this afternoon. Its setting, among the pines, is appropriate to the frosty mood. Looks very Kinkade-ish on closer inspection.

The local proprietors of the local JBs also make a point of changing banners to suit the season and/or holiday. Reminds me of the house over on Park Avenue that has lights and other yard decor for major holidays.

I've no idea just what this grand frog symbolizes. I don't think the Chinese have a Year of the Frog--besides, it was supposed to be the Year of the Pig across the Pacific. Perhaps the frog is an appeal for more moisture. With suction pads like those, he must be a tree frog of some sort. He's green like the tree frogs I recall from Florida -- but they weren't as fat as this guy. Believe it or not, there are two species of tree frog in Arizona, one of which is the official State Amphibian, beating out the spadefoot toad! (Getting back to the original subject, here is a site with flags and banners for every occasion or fancy.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Winter Discontents

How lush the Siberian elms, the cottonwoods, and other deciduous trees are in summer. How cool Ruth Street is on a hot day!

And how dreary the same trees can look in January! That's probably the reason that "in the pines" adds tens of thousands of dollars to property prices here in Prescott. The ponderosas are beautiful in winter, especially in the snow. But there's a catch: pines continue to provide shade when you least need it. People who settled this older neighborhood were more practical. Like today's greens, they figured that you want more sunshine in the cold months. Lower heating bills. Or maybe they just liked the kinds of trees they remembered from Ohio and other points east.

One thing I do notice when the leaves are gone -- the extent to which the tree surgeons have been at work on the older trees. In fact, people hereabouts often go to great lengths to save aging shade trees, especially those monster cottonwoods near Granite Creek.

Still, there is a delicate, mournful beauty to bare trees in winter. And the reassurance that they will leaf out once again the coming spring.
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