Monday, March 31, 2008

Picnic in the winds

My last political picnic was some eons ago, in Chicago. A friend was a precint (that's how they say it) captain for the Democratic party and he needed numbers to prove his value. Twas great fun; Riverview Park. Hot, in the middle of summer. Hot dogs. Beer. Potato salad. Lots of grubby Chicago pols. My memory of that picnic reminds me of the wonderful political rally music in Virgil Thompson/Gertrude Stein's opera, The Mother of Us All. (FYI, it's about Susan B. Anthony). This Sunday's political picnic was a more Western version of the classic American pastime. Except for the wind. Close to gale force.

Examine all the pictures -- you'll see blowing hair in almost every one. And the wind added a chill factor, as well.

However, there was great music -- Western-style, of course -- by the Cheektones who regularly play at Coyote Joe's.

And the candidate --Georgene Lockwood -- sang, too. But then you may have heard her sing folk music and play guitar or autoharp on Acker night.

The setting for the event: Watson Lake Park in the Granite Dells. Look closely -- those are huge granites, a popular challenge for rock climbers.

But the purpose of the picnic -- electing Georgene in the September Republican primary -- was front and center. Even the dog sports an in-your-face Lockwood for supervisor button. Buttons as well as magnetic signs for cars were available. Curiously enough, the law limits the period during which signs can be stuck in the ground -- but says nothing about vehicles such as the fine period pick-up truck below. (It belongs to Bobbi, who shows up in the comments here.)

I hadn't seen this part of the park for a long time; it was grand to see all the water this winter brought us. The lake had been very low and showed ugly white bathtub style rings on all those rocks.

Do note the white caps, thanks to the winds. This is unusual; as a rule, the lake is quite placid. A splendid place for birders, too. It's a stopover point on a minor spring and fall migration route for water birds.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The glass landscape

Walking Norris Street as it approached the low water level crossing of Butte Creek, I noticed that there was new ground cover along the Garden Street corner. Looked like salt and pepper, not your usual tan decayed granite gravel. You can see the difference at the top of the picture above.

Intrigued, I moved in closer. Aha. Shattered glass, about the same size as the usual gravel. But clear, with scattered remnants of beer and wine bottles. Even the occasional blue medicine container from the past. The only item missing: glass that has been sitting in the Arizona sun long enough to turn purple. In any event, an interesting use for yesterday's glass. Prescott College turf; it figures.

You must understand that the city does recycle. Some plastics. Cardboard and paper. No glass, however. I'm willing to bet that this bin over at PC's recycling set-up is possibly the only place for abandoned glass in town. After a not-so-quick visit to consult with The Google, I find that recycled glass landscaping is apparently neither that new nor that remarkable; over 133K links. Just new to me. My idea of what to do with used glass? Throw it into a rapids or over a seaside cliff. The one season I lived by the sea down in Florida, finding translucent glass shards was always a thrill! But I guess that mulch will do.

And, speaking of mulch, oh what lovely looking heaps of mulch there were at the PC recycling center. Too bad that there isn't a service one could call to send a chipper with operator around the neighborhoods to return sticks and grass and pine needles to the earth, rather than burning or stashing them forever in a landfill.

Linking: Interesting data on water allocation in Arizona in the Courier. Worth a read.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Art in the McCormick alley

A few years ago, a local realtor acquired several old cottages along McCormick Street just north of Gurley. Instead of immediately razing them and erecting creekside condos, he had them painted pink and purple and orange and yellow and declared them to be the McCormick Street Art District, thereby earning a few good marks. At this point, most of the cottages are now antiqueries, there's one radical bookstore plus this gallery.

The art fun is out in back of the buildings. Above, a shed, painted on two sides. This object has been here a couple of years.

However, there's new material, here at the back of one of the houses.

Around the corner is a Buddha sort of character.

Across the way, that is, I believe, a garden planted in the former bed of a pickup truck. This is part of the sculpture garden advertised by the Eye of the Mountain Gallery. One of these days I'll take on a a proper tour of McCormick Street, which is also quite interesting at the south end of town down where the White Spar Road begins.

May I Grump? I had my first Travelocity experience. Not good. Prices jumped $200 after I had picked a set of flights; the on-line form refused to accept my ZIP code & so I had to do the 888 call to Bangalore -- at least I didn't get charged the extra $25! I was so aggravated and flustered by the entire procedure that I set things up for the wrong dates, yet. Grump.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Something old, something new...

Oh what a tangled web we weave ... when we get a too-cute idea for a post. (That's the editorial we, folks.) So I spotted something quite new at the Sharlot Hall Museum this afternoon, which immediately suggested I should look for something old, etc. I'd certainly say that the old windmill or the detail from the Bashford House (below) built in 1877 fits the something old criterion.
Here's the something new that started all this off! My first guess would be an automated weather station, tho I've never seen one before. Sure looks like wind direction/speed indicators there. What say you?

Sorry, I had to stretch a bit to locate something borrowed amongst my Sharlot Hall pictures, but then those blue tipsters belong to the city, not to the museum, so they fill the bill. As for the file cabinets out sunning themselves, I've no explanation except that some sort of remodeling or maintenance might be underway. It seems to me I saw other office furniture out on the back sidewalk a few days ago.

Ah, yes -- the something blue is the sky overhead, though one might just say that the plastic bag high in a tree is something blah in an otherwise pretty decent picture of a tree coming to life.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The bike's in the tree. Where else?

Nothing out of the ordinary about this business sign on West Gurley. If anything, said the woman at the door who figured out why I was out front with a camera, the sight above (see below) might give clients a better clue as to the businesses' location.

"I tell 'em to just look for the bike in the tree." Apparently it's been there for nearly two months now, though I just spotted it yesterday evening. As you can see, quite a ways up.

My friend and I certainly couldn't figure out how the machine was hoisted into position. But it certainly makes a neat landmark.

Two days ago another transportation/tree combo caught my eye. In this event, two tires each topped by a platform, up in a tree. Much too big to be for most birds; too close to the house to be for big birds. Possibly positioned for a tree-climbing kid -- although, by me, there are just too dang many pesky branches in the way for a pleasant climb. Ah, well, it takes all kinds. Especially in our little city.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The desert in bloom

There! I've pulled together the wildflower shots from Sunday's expedition to the desert next the Santa Maria River (elevation, roughly 1800 ft.). A few disappointments: none of the chia pix worked, my assorted field guides (the kind with pretty pictures) didn't help ID in too many cases, there were a lot of bad, throw-away images, and that lovely pale blue delphinium was nowhere in evidence.

Just to prove that this lush landscape is really desert, a scene-setting view that includes a saguaro cactus in the background (the straight-up fellow in the middle.) The poppies were in full bloom, perhaps edging toward the end of their reign. California poppies or Mexican gold poppies? Currently, there's a debate, with the wildflower folk leaning toward a broad category -- all California poppies.

The poppies are varied, some pure gold, many with a center that is more orangish. Over in California, the poppies are a definite orange.

The poppy growth pattern was somewhat spotty along the Santa Maria Road on the east side of the river; however, my experience has been that if you opt for the paved road on the west side of the river, you won't see many wildflowers. Probably a major soil difference -- on the east, the soil is mostly volcanic and on the west, it's more granitic and alluvial. BTW, tho the lower elevation desert is famous for fields of California poppies, they grow quite nicely up here in Prescott, with the added advantage of being perennial.

Here is one of several mystery plants; it might be a member of the waterleaf family. Pretty even without a name.

Another nameless yellow. I was inclined toward the caltrop family (did you ever step on one of those awful bullheads in your bare feet down in the Valley?) But this flower is bigger, maybe 3/4 to 1 inch across, and the center doesn't look right.

A bladderpod for sure. Those little spherical seed pods will pop if you squeeze them.

I guess the desert marigold is a later blooming plant. We only saw a handful. There are great stands of this un-marigold along SR 69 as you head toward Mayer, courtesy of the highway department, so I hunch it might be a plant of slightly higher elevations. I've seen them even at about 5000 ft. on the West Spruce trail.

Tiny yellow flowers adorn the fiddleneck.

If you look carefully at the clear yellow flower to the top right , you'll realize that it is quite different from all those poppies. We saw just one small stand of these yellow evening primroses.

Enough of the yellows. Lupines (the two tallish purple stalks) are a major desert wildflower although we saw many more alongside the highway in road cuts than down at river level. The little lavenders? Mysteries. You tell me!

The third of the big-three of Arizona desert wildflowers -- owl clover. Again, only a few specimens at this location.

The lavender blossom on the right is a phacelia; there are many varieties of phacelia here in Arizona.

Along the Orme Road as it nears I-17, you'll see clouds of this pretty pink flower. It might be a gilia. Again, the field guides didn't help me.

Another pair of smallish lavender mystery blossoms (above and below.) Both covered a swath of ground. The lower guy might be a phacelia.

Nama? Whatever. As you can see, the plant forms a mat, with little pinkish-purple flowers.

We may have a Mojave desert star (above); the lower picture is of tackstem, which tended to grow in the shade of the palo verde trees or any other spot protected from the sun's heat.

The only tree trees blooming were willows in a stand at the rivers edge. We'll have to wait for the mesquite and the palo verde to blossom as well as the cactus. If you are planning a similar trip out the Bagdad Road for the wildflowers, I'd suggest you do it this weekend or perhaps next week. Unless we get a rain. Things are beginning to dry out.
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