Saturday, January 31, 2009

Skull Valley cemetery

It's a small cemetery but it's been there for over a century; after all, Skull Valley has been around for a long time, at least in Arizona terms. Location: on the west side of Iron Springs Road just before the underpass as you approach the little community. Very sere, but then the pictures were taken in December when the dotter visited. The grass never gets very green, but often brilliant red-orange mariposa lilies bloom in and near the cemetery in early spring.

The carved rock is somewhat unusual; note the cowboy on the right and the horse below. After all, this remains a ranching community.

Many multi-generational family plots.

For example, Alfred Shupp lived from 1834 to 1897; not in the picture is a smaller stone of another family member who died in 1945.

In addition to flowers, favorite things are found at the cemetery... including the curious balloon-ish object held by fairies (below).

Other objects, as well, including a beer can. Dotter removed the can for one photograph, but we decided that the beer belonged and was probably a gift from a hunting buddy of this fallen marine.

Another memorial to a service man, in this case one who served in World War I. Someone has given him a fresh flag.

More Blog Links: Remember reading about those remarkable glass sculptures down at the Desert Botanical Garden? Well, Catalyst was just there, lucky guy. With his camera, lucky us. Take a look. Next, friend Georgene has suddenly really gotten into blogging, with not one, but two new sites: Victorian Vices, focused primarily on beading, and Simplewise, on simplifying and organizing one's life.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The self-reliant abo-dude

Cody Lundin first came to our attention some time back in the early 90s. Probably at the Sharlot Hall Territorial Days celebration. There was this dude sitting crossed legged by some rather crude-looking camping gear. He was dressed in skins as I recall and barefoot. He had a brochure that talked about Aboriginal Living Skills or some such. We saw him a few more times around town. Always barefoot. (I've nothing against bare feet -- my mother had a hard time keeping shoes on my feet when I was a kid. But I've seen Cody Lundin barefooted at times when I'm struggling to keep my feet warm.)

His courses caught on. At one point, my friend Georgene spent a very rugged nine days in the bush as a student in one of Lundin's back country survival classes. She was very impressed.

Wednesday night, I finally got a chance to hear him tell his story to members of the Professional Writers of Prescott.

A self-reliant childhood as an Army brat. Then drugs. Jail. Rehab. Epiphany in the red rock country where he connected with the outdoors.

In fact, that's his explanation for the bare feet -- a direct connection with the earth. Today, he enjoys nationwide recognition for his survival skills, his no-nonsense approach to teaching those skills to others, plus two outspoken books on the subject of survival -- in the outback and in case civilization breaks down.

Unlike some in the survival training biz, Cody walks the walk. He lives off the grid an hour and a half drive in the high desert northwest of town, in an carefully designed earth home. Road kill? Rats? Insects? Food, when that's all there is. He enjoys shocking the complacent, as you can imagine.

And he brooked little nonsense when it came time to publish his books -- obviously, one who is larger than life can deal with publishers and editors differently than most of us!

Here are his two books (a third may be on its way). And do take some time to visit Cody's web pages. Fascinating reading and video watching.
Linkage: At last, a new blog I've been waiting for is online. LindaG, of The One Acre Wood, has premiered Prescott Past which will feature, along with reminiscences, selections from her husband's wonderful collection of old postcards. I think you'll also find Susie of Arabia interesting; she's an American woman who moved with her husband and son to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. And, if you have plenty of time on your hands, spend some of it at Zero Out of Five, where the schtick is selected answers to exam questions, some quite amazing. Oh yes, I nearly forgot the Chinese rap video the dotter featured today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One more minor civic mystery

Out in our neighborhoods, city and utility workers use assorted methods to communicate with one another . A prime message originator is the civic graffiti chap who sprays multi-colored intel about what's under the streets. Pink ribbons are another signal, usually tied to trees that utilities have deemed a danger or inconvenient and thus decreed to be lopped. And so I scratched my head when I saw the pink flying from guy lines that presumably were helping to stabilize a tall electricity pole in a local alley. Are they scheduled to be lopped like an overgrown oak tree? Or does it turn out that the pink ribbons are merely a suggestion that there's a problem and that Something Needs to Be Done, You Figure It Out. Maybe its time that I pass that way in alley once more to see if the problem has been solved.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I wuz memed!

What's this all about, you ask. It's Kate's fault, it is, the Kate who gardens up in the high, high cold country of Utah. She to whom I owe thanks for a big batch of hollyhock seeds that arrived in Arizona via Alaska; seeds even now in the earth to catch the winter rains.

So the instructions are thus: go to the 6th folder (determined how?) and select the 6th image & essay a brief essay about that picture. Since I didn't want to wind up with some obscure Macintosh-ish app as my source folder, I made life easy & selected my blog folder for starters. Every folder within contains pictures, carefully categorized (more or less). Folder number 6 turned out to be one named "arched windows" and the above picture of the one-time Wells Fargo office was .jpg number 6 in the folder. I think I actually had better images, without the cars in the foreground, but instructions are instructions.

Needless to say, that folder of arched window pictures containes very little that is contemporary. Such labor-intensive commercial decor is very much a thing of the past. It may be pleasing to the eye, but not to the comptroller. I look at that picture and realize that other windows, not only those with arches. are made so as to let in plenty of light. They represent a period when electricity was less ubiquitous, when one had to depend upon the sun and skylight for much interior illumination.

Me, I like big windows, tall windows, arched windows. All the better to see the sky, the trees, the birds, the clouds (including contrails!) and what little rain or snow falls.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The two-lion castle

Periodically, friend Patty takes me for a drive into corners of Prescott I'll never walk, because I didn't know they existed before the ride -- and often, figuring out just where we were is a challenge I don't have time for. That's the case with the two-lion castle among the granites to the west of town. Somewhere. I know it's up this windy road. But I don't know just where this windy road is located.

Regardless, the site features mini-ramparts, a gate and a tower, though a moat would never survive, given our city's water situation. Somehow, the modern house behind that imposing tower is hair anachronistic.

The establishment is guarded by this lion, who really doesn't look quite big enough for his responsibilities. Lion number two (below), who guards the mail box, looks to be far more dangerous to trespassers or marauders.

Just in case the lion pair fall down on the job, there's always the mini-canon up on the ramparts. Prescott! Sometimes it's hard to believe.

A Family Note: As long as I am talking lions, moats and castles, I'll play the doting grandmother as well and send you over to OmegaMom for the tale of the Printsuss Hoo Slad the Dragin. It is a book by my granddotter, just turned seven.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A yard full of pine cones

Upon setting forth for a short walk on Wednesday, I noted that there had been a major pine cone drop in one yard on my block.

Not only that, but this particular tree still has a good supply of cones for a further drop. Curious: I checked the other Ponderosas in the neighborhood, finding that only the trees on one particular property were so generously supplied with pine cones. It just happens to be at the house whose owner waters the most often.

So what to do with pine cones, aside from rake them into big bags that go into the trash cans? If you have a fireplace, you can use a few as tinder to help start fires. You might do as one householder on Vista did several years ago: pave the yard with them; after a few years, they begin to decay and lose their identity (above) but in the meantime, they make a neat, woodsy ground cover.

Squirrels and chipmunks tear the pine cones apart to get at the seeds. When I took a close-up of the cone above, the seeds were quite visible, lying against each of the individual scales. The Ponderosa do not provide those lovely pine nuts that the pinon give every five or six years. BTW, check out those two portable racks of dried fruit goodies in the Albertson's produce section -- the store sells little bags of pine nuts at a reasonable price.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Coffee table clocks

How to describe the idea of using an expensive clockworks as a coffee table? A remarkable extravagance? A leftover from an earlier time? It's difficult to say, but I was quite naively astonished when I first saw this piece in the lobby of our art deco Hassayampa Inn. I would never have imagined such an item, but then I am not big on home decor either.

And then, what do you know -- I met a second clockworks coffee table at my ex-sister-in-law's (we're divorced) when I visited this past summer. It had belonged to her LH.

I could but admire the piece. But I didn't dare rest a coffee cup on the dang thing -- that would surely have been sacrilegious.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Which buckwheat is that?

Count on it. I spy a few patches of green poking their way up through the earth and immediately begin thinking of flowers -- particularly wildflowers. Which for some unfathomable reason reminded me of my favorite mystery plant, one I am pretty sure is a buckwheat (eriogonum), American-style as opposed to buckwheat, European or pancake style.

This grey-green shrubby perennial is found all over the Prescott area. About 12" high, it begins to grow long leafless stems in mid to late summer, which will suddenly turn into white fluffy displays at the end of summer.

As the season wears on, the flowers gradually turn a brilliant rust color.

Close-up, the flower clusters are really quite pretty. This plant has frustrated me for years -- it is so very common here but I've yet to find a picture or a description in any of my layman's field manuals. However, my favorite A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona by Anne Orth Epple, did have this to say: almost all species of eriogonum are difficult to identify, even for the expert botanist. For the amateur, simply recognizing wild buckwheat as such is an accomplishment. So there! Epple says that there are 53 species of eriogonum in Arizona. (Note: No doubt the plant is described in McDougall, but that's for the real pro's among us, not me.) Just incidentally, one plant list referred specifically to a Yavapai County buckwheat variety common in the Prescott area.

Walking along a neighborhood alleyway this past summer, I noticed that a tallish, straggly plant most people would label a weed was putting out the same kind of long, leafless stalk preparatory to blooming. Aha! Likely another buckwheat, sez I.

Once the plants blossomed, I broke off a few stems to photograph up close in my kitchen table studio. These flowers, BTW, are really quite tiny. But again, quite pretty, even spectacular if you're snail or grasshopper or bumblebee size.

The buckwheat that the gardener is going to find at such wildflower outlets as Flagstaff Native Plant & Seed is the showy sulphur buckwheat, which is quite common in the high country. The best specimens that I have seen were at the top of Mingus. I tried one plant -- and failed miserably. (FYI, this post is dedicated to my aggie SIL, who first turned me onto the buckwheat family.)

Follow Up: I posted a query to the AZPlants mailing list and received this response from an individual at New Mexico State University, the first 8 [pictures] look to be Eriogonum wrightii, while the next three are probably Eriogonum polycladon. With a label, I was able to check further in my little southwestern library and struck gold. Judy Mielke writes in Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes, Wright Buckwheat blooms after many other desert plants have finished, so it can be used in flower gardens to extend the flowering season. A mass planting could be used for ground cover on either flat areas or slopes. A good suggestion; my plants are up the hillside, though I could do with a lot more plants to achieve that ground cover look. BTW, any Valley residents -- the Wrights is happiest at 3000-7000 ft. elevation, which probably lets it out as a good candidate for Phoenix gardens.
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