Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Datura Has Grown Up

You may recall that this spring, frustrated by my attempts to grow datura from seed, I bought a seedling up at Flagstaff Native Plant & Seed. Pragmatic, yes. Nonetheless, a defeat -- after all, the plant grows wild in my immediate neighborhood and I've collected plenty of seed over the years. In any event, the seedling has prospered and is now a largish plant. Big enough to produce one blossom this summer and possibly many more in the years ahead.

Here is the large bud, looking like a candlestick.

The blossom has emerged and is thinking of uncoiling.

I waited patiently the evening that the flower was to open; there was only a small amount of movement. I had once before caught a datura blossom as it suddenly sprang open at dusk. A wonderful sight -- and wonderful scent, as well, like many night blooming plants. This particular night, I lost patience, figuring that I could photograph the open flower the next morning.

Hah! No such luck -- in the morning, the blossom was spent!

I had to make do with another plant just up the street from me -- a plant that has grown wild by the roadside for several years, with neither watering nor other TLC.

Developing seed pods on the nearby plant; my own datura has one healthy seed pod. Easy to see why the name thorn apple. Other names for the plant include jimson weed, gypsum weed, loco weed, jamestown weed, angel's trumpet, devil's trumpet, devil's snare, according to Wikipedia. It is found in almost every state and belongs to the solanaceae family, which includes everything from belladonna to tomatoes, potatoes, chilis, tobacco and deadly nightshade.

BTW, I found this reproduction from Georgia O'Keefe among my pictures. Not only beautiful, the datura is seductively dangerous. "Most parts of the plant contain atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. It has a long history of [medicinal and magical] use both in S. America and Europe and is known for causing delerious states and poisonings in uninformed users," notes the Erowid Organization, whose pages are concerned with hallucinogenic plants. There is, of course, also an association of fanciers and breeders, the American Brugmansia & Datura Society. For the record, brugmansia is the name given to tree daturas, native to South America.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Education of a Candidate

My good buddy Georgene Lockwood has decided to challenge the present county supervisor from Yavapai District One. Not a career politician, she is undergoing a big-time education in matters civic, attending meetings throughout the county on all imaginable issues. Water. Development. Zoning. Roads & transportation. Affordable housing. You name it, she's getting a crash course.

And then there is the fun stuff. Which is where I come in. There are plenty of places and events to meet and talk to real people about how they feel about local issues. I've been tagging along as a chance to photograph more events than is possible for a mere walker-about-town. An almost overwhelming number, it turns out. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, we set out Saturday morning for an eight AM presentation on water-wise plantings out at Acker Park (above).

Followed by a quick stop at the Apple Pan for a breakfast bite. The other person at our table: Bobbi, the campaign's treasurer.

Next, a drive out to Skull Valley for the annual Pie & Ice Cream Social.

Finally, back to town for petition signing at the Book Fair over at the Sharlot Hall grounds.

This weekend started with the Open Space conference, also at the Sharlot Hall Museum, on Friday night.

This morning, early, an Audubon Society bird walk at Watson Woods, where Georgene met a couple of youngsters interested in tracking.

Next stop, the Yavapai Cattle Growers annual Bar-B-Q (which was absolutely yummy!) Here, the candidate buys some raffle tickets for the Yavapai Cow Belle's 2007 scholarship quilt.

And, finally, a 30+ mile drive out to Paulden for that rural area's annual Fall Festival. A windy day and a chance to get more signatures. Did I mention that I arrived home very, very tired?

I had hoped to link to an article Georgene wrote for ReadItHere News, but though it just appeared on the newsstands, it's not on-line yet. All about a green zoning ordinance in the works that nobody seems to know much about and -- how difficult it was for her to find the relevant meetings. Interesting.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Corn Mother Near Harvest Time

You may recall that back in June I posted pictures of the Corn Mother sculpture over at the Sharlot Hall Museum grounds.

Look at her today! She's almost completely hidden by the corn stalks that have grown up around her.

But then these are the first days of autumn and the final days for most annual growing things, such as these flowers I saw tonight, also at the Sharlot Hall Museum. I love this time of year!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

An Album from the Past

Gussi is a 99-year-old lady who lives in the same assisted living facility as my mother. Born in Germany, she lived 30 years in Ash Fork; today her hands are crippled with arthritis. Last week, Gussi showed me some of the pressed flower arrangements she created during the 90s. I only wish that my photographs could do her lovely little pictures justice.

Many of her flowers were actually pieced together from individual petals.

What look like leaves are, in most cases, seed stalks from different grasses.

Many were made into cards for friends and family.

When I am privileged to catch a small glimpse of the accomplishments of Mom's fellow residents, I am awed and I am saddened. These are people who have led active lives, who have worked, created, lived and loved. Yet their time is short and today few beyond their families are aware of how much they have achieved.

Hello! to vistors from the Pressed Flower Guild over at Yahoo. And welcome. I am glad you had this chance to enjoy Gussi's handwork. Do come by again!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Those Pesky Rights-of-Way

All right, already. Call me picky, picky. However, today marked the second time that our daily newspaper has printed the same incorrect map. On page 1. Story about Lincoln School's property problem. How do I know? Well, I happen to walk the area frequently, as you may have noted. Examine the map above. Picture yourself in your car, heading straight up Beach street from the back side of the Sharlot Hall Museum to get to Lincoln school.

Oh oh! What have we here? Look what's ahead of you. Even in your SUV, you aren't going to get up this little cliff! Pretty, though. Quite walkable -- there's a well worn neighborhood path. Yes, this is on some maps as part of Beach Street.

Now here's the map with my corrections. See the little stub of Beach? See the "new" street going past the other side of the United Methodist Church over to Gurley? MapQuest online has corrected its map to this configuration. On the other hand, my 2003 edition of the Yavapai/Coconino Counties Street & Road Atlas still shows the map just as the Courier printed it.

By the way, that isn't the only Prescott street found on some maps that in the real world goes over a cliff. Likely, the problem is that city rights-of-way do exist and the map makers mistake them for actual thoroughfares. No way. They should get out on the land more often!

As for the Lincoln School property problem -- I'd say that the city should quietly deed its "strip of land" over to the school and be done with it. After all, it did pass the whited-out portion of Beach Street to the adjacent land-owner, I'm told. And, after all, city had apparently lost the piece of land which the school has used for all these years. Isn't there a term for land ownership that passes as a result of long-term use? Oh, yes -- squatters' rights.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Rest of the Chickens

Surely you didn't think that all those chickens I posted last night brought an end to my poultry posts, did you? Our county fair had other ways to celebrate the national foul. Starting with the cloth, above, which covered one of the tables in the animal house.

Chickens were in evidence in the exhibit hall, too. This papier-mache critter was part of the big elementary school art show at the fair.

The quilt, above, was a blue ribbon prize winner. Neat roosters, aren't they.

Yes, there were also paintings and photographs on display.

As for this quiltish rooster, he was the creation of another of the school artists. High school, BTW.

Bloggy Business: sheoflittlebrain has handed me this award:

It seems I have made her smile on occasion. I hope frequently! And my instructions were to pass the award along to others who have made my day a happier one. Here goes with a partial list; several I might have included were already nominated by she:

* Right back to The One Acre Wood
* Desert Cat
* Albuquerque Daily Photo
* ksquest
* Not Dead Yet
* SmilenSigh
* Olivia in Germany
* The Lazy Artist
* Escaping Suburbia
* Foolsewoode

County Fair: Chickens Galore

I'd be willing to bet that a big percentage of visitors to the county fair are there for the thrill of the rides. But there probably wouldn't be a fair if it weren't for farmers and the products of the land.

A good third of the space over at our new fairgrounds was devoted to the animals -- big and small. Here, a focus on the small. Chickens, to be specific. And as an honor to Little Sir Galahad, the gallant Mille Fleur bantam rooster who resides at The One Acre Wood.

As a townie, raised neither on the farm nor in the big city, I'm pretty naive about such matters. The critter above, for example, along with his red brethren, is what a Real Chicken looks like in my mind.

Oops! How wrong I have been all these years. A university down in OZ offers this handy dandy chart of the varieties of chook, as the Aussies call this species of foul.

Visits to the One Acre Wood and, now, the Yavapai County Fair, have certainly improved my education re: barnyard denizens. What a wonderful variety I've become acquainted with, if ever so briefly.

Of course, along with chickens go the eggs. There appears to be a second prize-winner (red ribbon) in this batch.

A beautiful tail! What better way end to this short tale.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Intrusions in the Meditation Garden

Friday was one of those strange days. The first thing I saw when setting out for a brief walk was a claw. Looked to have been barbecued. When I picked it up, tho, it was merely a twig. Well, Halloween is around the corner, isn't it?

I was headed to the meditation garden over at the nearby church. A couple of days earlier, I had seen objects that didn't seem to fit exactly with a contemplative mood. It was time to photograph them, which had to take place up over that wall you see to the right, with the lens zoomed to telephoto position.

For instance, there was a flag tucked into the garden mulch. Turned out there were three little flags, one in a potted plant. I don't object to the flag per se, but somehow this doesn't seem the place for patriotic declarations. At least as I see it.

Item number two was a black fashion boot. Really, really out of place. I tried to picture how it got there -- not very meditative, for sure. When I walked around the upper perimeter for a better shot, lo and behold, both boots. From the comfort of my office, I can see that there's a hole in the sole of one. That's a somewhat better explanation than my first theory! Still a tacky gesture, though, throwing worn out boots into a serene garden.

This intrusion I'll allow. At first, I thought that a cement sculpture had been plopped down in one corner of the garden. Trying various angles, I discovered that the Siamese fellow was indeed alive. Now, examining the picture in greater detail, it seems that he was deliberately put in the garden. On a lavender leash. Guess he's the church cat.
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