Thursday, April 30, 2009

April bouquet

Our April has been on the cool side, which is A-OK by the pansies, who do not like Arizona hot, even the milder mountain version. So they continue to put out. I especially like the little purple and whites below, perhaps because of the goatee.

The California poppies are in full bloom -- and, for once, I managed to hit the button while a bee was visiting a flower. For some reason, my flower pictures seldom feature a bee or other insect, in great contrast to my LH's photos, which invariably included fauna. However, that's a neat seed pod.

I always scatter red flax seeds in my pot garden; this fellow overwintered and so is blooming early.

The one evening primrose managed to produce several blossoms before it was devoured by the voracious pigs. The flowers are open only through the early morning, at which point they wilt, turn pink, and look like abandoned Kleenex.

Ah, yes -- my favorite ferocious duo, the semi-red Calif. poppy and the man-eating red paintbrush. This is the best close-up I've managed of the paintbrush.

However, the prettiest flower of all is my bleeding heart. Too bad the plant blooms once and is done for the year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My beribboned neighbor & other dogs

Meet Cain. He's my next door neighbor, out on one of his regular walks, complete with favorite frisbee. He would much rather have seen cat Max than a dull old human photographer. Below are his recent ribbons, won at a competition down in the Verde Valley, for which I congratulate this handsome Australian shepherd.

And here is Georgene's Posey, who was carried halfway across the country to her new home by a free pet transportation service. She's still a shy girl, but coming out of it.

Scout and Ruby (guess which dog she is) are two of Bob and Patty's three. Ruby is a recent adoptee.

And here's Whiskey Row's dog amenity. Considering how many dogs are walked at The Square, I wonder just how often that bucket has to be refilled.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A portfolio of playhouses

When I was of the age for a playhouse, it was the Depression of the 30s. And so, to the extent that I had a playhouse, it was a pretend playhouse. Perhaps an old cardboard box or lines drawn in the dirt to mark out rooms. Very different times, those. Real playhouses were definitely way down the list of luxury items.

Not so any more. Oh, to have had a neat middle class playhouse like this. Homemade, I'd say, looking at it carefully, but not a structure that would cause neighbors to raise an eyebrow or complain.

This was the playhouse of my great-niece in Memphis. Nice touch, that slide in place of a staircase. I wouldn't be surprised if the Famous Niece from Memphis found the little house by the side of the road or traded someone for it. She has a talent for doing well by saving money.

This little neat playhouse was hiding in a woodsy section of town.

I'm not particularly fond of plastic, but this compact little house had to fit in a small front yard. And, besides, it does have a skylight! On the other hand, there's this castle (below) my ex-sister-in-law (we're divorced) kept for her Memphis grandkids; now that they're older, being of plastic it makes a fine bin for mulching yard leaves.

Then there are the real homemades, put together with whatever wood or other material is at hand. These two, above and below, look most like the few playhouses I remember from way back in time. Especially the treehouse. A few kids in my day had platforms in trees, but seldom anything more elaborate.

Certainly nothing like this elegant, highrise in the trees out in Chino Valley. I mean, the children are lucky if their parents don't commandeer this treehouse. I wouldn't mind having my computer up in such quarters.

And now, the big news -- a wee new javelina that must have hatched just this week. I got this photo from friend Bob just yesterday.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What's up overhead at the library

Once again, it's quilts, courtesy of the Thumb Butte Quilters' Guild. The library calls the venue its "Look Up" Gallery. I call it the impossible-to-photograph location. Too bad -- as ever, the quilts represent topnotch craftsmanship and are great to look at.

If you wonder about the weird angle, credit the lights that are quite in the way for straight forward pix of most of the quilts.

In case the dotter doesn't recognize it, this quilt celebrates a trip to Alaska. Now that I look closely, I see many orcas as well as tall trees and a glacier. All that's missing is the volcano.

I think the zinnia quilt was my favorite. That or the chickens.

Serious Links: Normally, my linkage deals with the interesting, the beautiful, the amusing. For a change, some heavy-weight stuff. Let's start with our local foreclosure blog, which reports a fact that hasn't made the front page of our daily paper -- the Prescott metro area (i.e., Yavapai County) ranked #25 on the nationwide list of metro areas hardest hit by foreclosures in the 1st quarter of the year. You may have seen comments by Boonie; he has changed the focus of his blog from travel to brief essays, such as a commentary comparing the green movement to a religion. For a dose of the current economic bad news in interactive graphics, visit Slate's Disappearing Jobs map. Then there's Fred, who bemoans the evolution of the newspaper city room from a smoke-filled home of hard-bitten, hard-news cynics into a sanitized, polite, non-smoking and tedious environment. Amen! I started my own journalism life as a copy boy on the old Chicago Sun. Dropping into Kappy's Bar & Grill to get whisky in a paper cup for one reporter or running the latest handicaps over to the Daily Racing Form for the slotman on the copy desk as well as sharpening handfuls of soft lead pencils and interleaving cheap yellow copy paper with carbon paper to make "books". Back then, type was set by wandering linotype operators who 1) could spell and 2) were sharp in a way that only the self-educated can be . Too bad that world has vanished.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Resident horned toad!!!

Several days ago, I lucked out in the critter department. First, there was this LBB hopping about the front of my house, dangerously close to the human type animal (me). I suppose that it was a youngster, who hasn't learned the hard lessons about safe distances. (Well, maybe he had -- I see that this picture is more than a little noisy from being blown up too much.) No idea of what variety of bird, but it was sparrow or finch size.

But look at what I found over on the landscape river rocks at a neighbor's house. I haven't seen an adult horny toad in these parts in a couple of decades, though I did discover babies two years ago, meaning that there were grown-ups hiding out somewhere. When spotted, the horny one freezes, unlike most of the local lizards. That's why I was able to get several shots; note how he has moved his head ever so slightly slightly to get a better look at the big monster photographer (below). Also interesting: he is blue-ish, compared to the usual brown. The reason may be the blue-ish color of the rocks where he appears to be living. FYI, head/body length about 5-6 inches.

Nature Linkage: According to Foothills Fancies, it you see tufts of Ponderosa pine on the ground, credit the Aberts squirrel. Which reminds me that over in Bavaria, the beautiful red squirrels that visit Steve's deck now have a young one or two. Warren displays shots of gorgeous Easter Lily Cactus at a Tucson nursery, while From My Point of View takes a trip to equally gorgeous Fossil Creek in its new, free-flowing condition. And down in Kermit in Texas, the 2nd graders do a major dinosaur show; no, no Tippy-style costumes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Biking the mountain outback

Today the town was chock-a-block full of bicycles. The occasion, the 6th annual Whiskey Off-Road, a trial by elevation for some 7-800 mountain bikers. No, I do not have pictures of all those buff folks as they maneuver up dirt roads and trails through the pines. Instead as befits an 82-year-old who sleeps late, I caught the tail end of one of three races...

(Note: Karoliina is much younger and full of more energy than I -- if you want a picture of the race over some of the rough terrain, her blog is the place to go. Wonderful coverage!

More: another batch of photos from the mountain at The Courier site.)

...starting over at the corner of Gurley and Park, where the right hand turn lane was set aside for contestants coming down from the hills.

Half of Cortez Street was also dedicated to the racers (above and below). Frankly, they looked pretty full of pep as they reached the end of the trail. Especially considering that the 15-mile and 25-mile cyclists probably had a climb of nearly 2000 feet on their course. On the other hand,
the final portion of the course was pretty much all downhill.

This racer, his run complete, takes a spin with his young son.

Here it is -- The End. At the Courthouse Square, of course.

A Must for every event these days -- an official T-shirt. Plenty of fancy bikes were on display (below).

Tired bikes (above) and bikers (below) rest. I suspect that none of the 50-milers were back from Skull Valley, however. I cringe just imagining their long, steady climb up from 4600 elevation to the top of the Prietas.

Some contestants take time out for a beer or other goody at The Palace, while others pack it in.

If you're curious as to the course laid out for the cyclists, full details at the Epic Rides site. Yes, maps are also available. The Courier has a good pre-race roundup of info and tomorrow's paper will doubtless offer more. You know what? Just looking at those racing pictures has worn me out!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Corn Story

Tippy the saurian isn't the only reason to carry a camera to our downtown library. Art abounds on the walls as as well as in the courtyard guarded by that wonderful bronze cougar. What I am showing today is a series of sculptured sand paintings by Susan Popko, acquired in 2007. They depict the corn story, which suggests that Popko is Hopi or other puebloan. I quote from the plaque that accompanies the sculptures.

When the rain fell, breezes were soft and the sun warmed the earth, corn seeds were planted.

Corn seedlings had to be protected from the raiding birds.

The corn crop also had to be protected from the hungry deer.

After a good harvest, as night approached, the tribe danced in celebration.
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