Friday, August 31, 2007

These Chairs Are for Hanging

OK -- You explain this arrangement, which I spotted on a short neighborhood walk late this afternoon. Three wire chair frames; no seats. Up there in the pines, a short ladder length high. Decorative, I suppose. It would be too messy for paint drying.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Burning Man -- The Amphibious Prescott Connection

So a dissident set the Burning Man ablaze several days before the official Sept. 3 date. All of which reminds me of my very tenuous connections with the big annual Black Rock, Nevada, event. First was my buddy, the aged-in-grade Bad Boy, who yearned to visit the festival and finally made it, only to be completely shunned by the counter-culture folk. He forgot that, as a loner with his Jeep-kinda vehicle, cropped hairdo & clean-shaven look plus gear stashed in ammo cases, he came on as a stereotypical narc. Lesson learned and his 2nd visit went well.

Then last month, during the Memphis niece's visit, we got an invitation, third-hand, for a party celebrating something called Amphibia.

Turned out that this was, in part, a celebration for the completion of a pavilion, Amphibia, produced by the local/Arizona delegation to Burning Man, 40-50 strong. Plus a fund-raiser. Model above and on Tshirt below.

A goodly supply of amphibia were present on hangings at the outdoor affair. Above, salamanders; frogs below.

Niece and her dotter do the salsa amongst the amphibia. After all, this was a party, as the salsa contest below suggests. The food was plenty and tasty.

Decor for the party also included the Temple of Virtual Wisdom and, of course, an Art Car, made by Cosmic Steel.

The hostess of the evening, sculptor Juanita Hull-Carlson, holds up a second T, this one with a green pledge of allegiance to the earth. She has recently completed a children's book, Amphibia, and talked of plans to create a travelling educational caravan of the same name.

Just one more facet of the Prescott experience. For more about Burning Man, go here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Please Be Seated

For reasons that I cannot fathom, I've never been an easy chair person. Particularly not the lazy-type chairs with the retractable foot rest (despite the fact that I am convinced that airline travel would be immeasurably improved with the simple addition of foot rests.) These chairs -- and their over-stuffed brethren -- are traps for small people. Difficult to get out of. Always slightly more than a comfortable arm's length from the table to put the drinks or the book on. I suppose if the tube is your thing, they work. Me, I think the alley or the back of a pick-up truck is exactly where they belong!

No, my immediate family has always been a kitchen table family. An ample surface for elbows, beer, a magazine or a project; an excellent place for conversation or for solitary occupations such as crossword puzzles.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Different Kind of Mahogany

Not the well known furniture wood from the tropics, our mountain mahogany is a sprawling shrub that's a member of the rose clan. The plant above is one of many in the thicket on my hillside.

Researching the subject with The Google was less than very productive, unfortunately. Why the name, for example? I caught one brief sentence indicating that at least one species has red, mahogany-colored trunks. Not here in Arizona, as you can see above. Another article talked about the dense wood as being mahogany-colored. Afternote: I finally got into the brief Britannica article on MM, which noted that it is said that the common name was given to species of these plants by the Mormons, who used the wood to build the Tabernacle Organ at Salt Lake City, Utah.

The local MM grows many canes, often as tall as 15 feet. Most are unbranched, and seldom as much as 2-3 inches in diameter at the base. On the other hand, other varieties of MM do form small trees, especially at higher elevations and to the north of Arizona, which explains those organ pipes above. The plants all tend to be evergreen, with small leathery, gray-green leaves.

I found the canes useful for making this morning glory trellis. And I would bet on them for fishing poles, as well. Native Americans used the wood to make spindles for starting fires, for bows and arrows, prayer sticks and weaving implements. The roots provided a red dye for buckskin and wool. The plants also provide a good browse for deer and other animals.

Mountain mahogany flowers are small, shy and retiring...

...but the seeds are spectacular, especially when backlit. They are designed to fly on the winds, catch in animal fur and to corkscrew into the ground to get established. One reference cited the "difficulty" of sprouting the seeds; my experience is quite the opposite -- if I didn't pull the seedlings up promptly, mountain mahogany would take over! I like the plant, but not that much.

Monday, August 27, 2007

No! No! A Thousand Times, NO!

That which is not explicitly permitted is forbidden. I wonder if most Americans are aware of how we are surrounded by signs that forbid this, that and the other or that declare a negative of one sort or another.

I certainly had not noticed -- until I began my picture collection. If you're my age, you will recall those movies that depicted Nazi Germany as a land awash in verboten signs. In fact, all the set designer had to do to declare tyranny was to display that German word for forbidden.

It's curious. I wouldn't have said that Prescott had any big resemblance to Hitler's world. On the other hand, the little 2-letter n-word certainly does abound. Even when it's serving primarily for information -- no Q-line, for example, whatever that is.

Of course, automobile traffic control is responsible for a huge percentage of the NO signs.

But man's best friend is also targeted. In this case, by a saloon.

Waste disposal -- of any kind -- inspires a plethora of negatives. And the greener we get, I suspect, the more we'll see.

That's all for the moment, but don't get complacent. In another month, I'll post yet another batch of NO signs.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I Finally Saw My Small Tenant...

...actually, just his tail. I'm talking about the little guy who's been living in my woodpile. He/she was just about to enter the pile when I showed up. Followed by Max Cat, who immediately gave chase. The chipmunk took off and spent about half an hour or so up in the trees, chirping the alarm or otherwise chatting with its fellows.

Max has been aware for sometime that Something That Smells Like Prey lives among the sawed up oak trees. I only became aware of the critter recently when I heard a gnawing sound while eating my breakfast out in my cool back porch/grotto. I now put out bits of fruit everyday; every night, they are gone. But note the carrot pieces in the above picture -- they've been there for a couple of days. The little guy turned up his nose, obviously.

Now to continue where I left off last night ... about my other big problem. Bird photography. Bought the new Canon Powershot for its 12x zoom lens, hoping to improve my odds at home despite 1) the lack of bird bath and feeder and 2) the overly wooded hillside. The birds are there, but I seldom can catch an entire bird -- even if one sits still long enough! I was lucky with the (I presume) house finch above. But the picture doesn't tell you much about the bird.

Why bird talk? For some reason or other, Thomasburg Walks tagged me as a birder, with a list of eight or so questions, most of which I can't answer because I'm not really a birder. Yes, my late husband and I spent a lot of time out in the field while he videotaped water birds, chiefly up at Sullivan Lake. But that was long ago. Today, birds are just one of many fascinating things in my immediate environment. However, one question did bring up memories of a recent experience:

What is the coolest bird you have seen from your home?
Easy to answer ... it was the misplaced great blue heron circling above my street, chased by a local raven who was shouting at him/her to get the hell out of the neighborhood. Fast. Mind you, I live a far piece from ponds of any size; all I can figure is that the heron had discovered that there are people who live nearby who have well stocked koi ponds. Nonetheless, he soon gave up. Our local guard ravens protect us well!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Yes, That Winery Is Still Open

There are two area of hip, modern life where I am a failure ... a member of the lumpen proletariat ... a real turkey. One is wine, which I do drink regularly, tho I secretly prefer a good beer or ale. I usually have a box of what my dear bro calls plonk on hand; beer is simply too filling at my tender age. The bottles above? Brought by the Memphis niece from Trader Joe's on her way up to Prescott; you will note my rather cavalier treatment of the opened bottle and my little 6-oz. glass that once held Dona Maria mole sauce. The pretty red glass is from a set that the youngsters used.

What brings up the subject of wine again? The AZ Republic has answered the question of what has become of the mysterious San Dominique winery over at the east end of the junction of SR169 and I17. Basically, nothing. It's still in business! Sez the Republic:

[Bill] Staltari began the winery and tasting room in 1981. Since then, he's hosted garlic, apple, jazz and wine festivals. The shelves of the tasting room are filled with spices, canned items and garlic. "I have a couple of vines left," he says, "but now, I buy most of my grapes when I need them."

He says water costs and warming weather have made growing his own grapes too difficult. Visitors are given 16 choices to taste, at 50 cents per taste. The wine is served in tiny plastic cups, similar to shot glasses. Staltari says dry reds are his favorite, but the novelty wines are a hit with visitors.

"I attended a seminar and they said to make wine appropriate to your area," he says, pouring hot-pepper white wine. It's dry, spicy and unforgiving; peppers swim at the bottom of the bottle.

The article did not answer the question of what is at the top of the mesa just south of the winery. There's a road going up the side, but what's up there? A rich couple's summer cottage? Perhaps a cell phone tower. Someone fill me in.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Good Evening!

The trouble with our late summer climate is that if it isn't raining, it's too dang hot. As a result, I don't do enough walking. Tonight (and last night) I forced myself out after the sun had gone behind the hills to the West. And I was rewarded with a rose...

...and a remarkable explosion of clouds from the southwest. This might be a harbinger of the wetter weather we have been promised for the weekend. Even a little of that moisture from Dean might be blown our way, tis said.

One of the sights that caught my eye: a utility pole at Park and Gurley that serves as a major bulletin board for yard sales, lost cats and similar neighborhood events. Obviously many years' worth of tacks, nails and staples remain stuck in that wood.

On the other hand, there's another interesting use of wood I see regularly -- the tree that once provided shade at this spot now provides very convincing ground cover. Now, if only we get that rain -- many of the promising plants are wilting from the current dryness.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

For Whom the Bells...

...toll? No, too small. Also too small to peal. Whatever. The bells are there to earn $$$ to help pay for the ambitious structures forever abuilding at Arcosanti. Paolo Soleri's Utopian community on the side of a small canyon near the Agua Fria River was not the sort of place that would have attracted the late husband. And so it was up to the accommodating niece from Memphis to show me the place in the flesh. On our way back from Sky Harbor this month, it was.

Yes, I have plenty of pictures of the place. Far too many. Hence this post showing just the bells. I don't recall whether they are made up here in the high desert near Cordes Junction or at studios down in Scottsdale in the Valley of Death.

In any event, all manner of bells -- except for those big berthas that inspired all Russian composers or that starred in thriller Hitchcock movies. I would guess that these might tinkle or maybe ring. Peal or toll, never.

However, they do indeed make fine architectural accents!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Grass in Bloom

On my walk this evening, I was reminded that we have entered the season when all the grasses are blooming. What an invitation to photography!

What an invitation to frustration. To turn the camera on is to invite the breezes and an unexpected blur.

Nonetheless, occasionally, one gets a picture of tiny little blossoms hanging down from the dangles on a stem.

And the variety is wonderful.

My neighbor took her dogs to walk out at Pioneer Park yesterday. She said that, thanks to the July rains, the grasses out there are stomach-high -- a horse's stomach, that is. She promises to show me these range grasses.

The grasses here are all city grasses; undoubtedly one or more is a wicked invasive, but as I look at the pictures, I really don't give a damn!

More Links: The latest mural is done -- I know because the final panel has ravens looking on critically -- and Paul over at PrescottStyle has a post and link to a Flikr slide show of the entire 90 feet. Sheoflittlebrain alerted me to the remarkable photo of a hawk moth at Arizona Babylon; it's hard to believe the tongue on that critter. But don't overlook the hawk sitting at her site, BTW.
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