Monday, August 31, 2009

Is Jimena another Octave?

Synchronicity strikes again! Honestly, I wasn't thinking of Hurricane Jimena, currently hurling itself at the Baja peninsula, when I posted a link about Arizona catching the leavings from Pacific hurricanes every few years. After reading Azlaydey's comment about the Skull Valley Store this morning, I thought about 1) how maybe it would be interesting to check out the the current situation and 2) how weird it all was when Octave's tailings landed here in back in 19aught83.

So there you have (above) the projected path of Jimena, as of 11:30 p.m. EDT Monday, courtesy of Wunderground. Pointing smack dab in our direction. However, Ken Clark, the Accuweather blogger, has this to say, what happens to Jimena past Wednesday [when it hits Baja]? The interaction between the land and cooler waters should quickly diminish the strength. But moisture will continue to spread north. What is not easily answered right now is how far north will that moisture get. Computer models are not that impressive with moisture over southeast California or Arizona on Thursday or Friday. They very well could be wrong. But one thing we have to consider is that there will still want to be a ridge in place between a storm moving through the Northwest and the remains of Jimena and that ridge may be over portions of southern California and Arizona blocking a lot of the northward advance of moisture.

There was nothing like such a protective ridge when Octave came our way. LH and I were living in Wilhoit the other side of the Prietas at the time. We slept soundly the night it arrived, unaware that there had been a major storm. Little did we realize as we drove up the winding road from Kirkland to Skull Valley the next morning that the road might not be there the next time we tried it -- or that the flash flood had undercut the railroad tracks on the other side of the big wash. Imagine our amazement when we arrived at the Skull Valley Cafe to be told that they weren't open, that there had been 14 inches of rain on the west side of Granite Mountain, and that there were a two or three of feet of mud in the Skull Valley Store , which had recently been bought by a young couple. They were wiped out, we were told.

And so we headed to Prescott, still hoping for breakfast. As we left Skull Valley and headed up into the hills, we hit a patch on the highway where it looked as though water had washed across at some point. Reality was that water, several inches deep, was still crossing the highway. Everywhere. The hillside was still draining. Once we arrived in Prescott, it was almost impossible to find an open restaurant because the gas mains had been shut for fear of a break. Also, we were told that Iron Springs Road had nearly been taken out by flooding on Willow Creek. The final blow from Octave was that a railroad bridge north of town was washed out; as a result, the Santa Fe decided it didn't have enough business to bother repairing the damage and Prescott was without rail service from that time forward. However, the track along Skull Valley Wash was quickly repaired; a good thing, too -- roads in the area were in such bad condition that the rancher at the Bar-U-Bar could only get out by hitching a ride into Skull Valley on the Santa Fe.

So we wait and see. In the meantime, we are finally getting some rain.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Veggies with attitude

It's been some weeks since my friend and I happened across a sign at Gurley and McCormick that shouted "free vegetables!" Once we made the turn onto McComick, there was the follow up, at the Catalyst Infoshop. Figures.

I would expect that at the end of August there would be a larger selection of veggies than we saw that morning. We felt just a tad put off that the sign shouted "free", but laid a guilt trip with that donation cup at the point of purchase. Figures.

End of August Links: Warren is showing some mighty pretty cactus blossoms at Touch Wind. Jim Morgan continues to post Arizona wildflower pictures with ID on Picasa. And, from the sublime to the ridiculous, Toilets of the World, in pictures -- a travelogue of sorts.

Hey -- I just found a real goodie -- a Wikipedia entry all about hurricanes whose leftover bits and pieces have dumped rain on Arizona. There's a similar list for California. Some surprises in both. Not mentioned is that Octave (1983) washed out the Kirkland-Skull Valley Road and really dumped on the west side of Granite Mountain (something like 14 inches, if I remember correctly.) It also cost Prescott the end of the Santa Fe link into town.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

One less tree

If only I had been driving -- or at the very least, been pulling a little red wagon -- I could have yet another fine log as a stand for my potted garden. I espied these remains of an alley tree on my walk yesterday.

There's the stump (above) and an interesting log with two hearts (below); I don't recall what type of tree it was. This particular specimen was not one of very great significance, but it's always sad to see a tree come to its end.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Beautiful critter

Once again, my open window policy has paid off. This curiously patterned moth has been hanging about in my kitchen, where the portable air conditioner requires an open, unscreened window. I'm sure the critter showed up to enjoy the bright lights of Chez GrannyJ.

I had not realized how showy this insect was until it opened its wings. Wow! Time for pictures. After flying about, said moth landed on my left hand, while I somehow managed to get the camera operational with my right. Oops, wings closed. One picture, then two and three. I had to poke at the critter to get it to display its spectacular set of R.E.D. rear wings for this view.

As well as the red and black abdomen. Q: do all moths have those lovely silky hairs where wings meet abdomen? Below, a close up view of the pattern on the wing. Note how the grey color is achieved by alternating lines of black and white scales. Very much like old fashioned newspaper half-tones.

For the record, this particular moth is called the painted tiger moth or, officially, arachnis picta. Why arachnis, which sounds pretty spidery to me, I don't know. Googling, I found physical specs for the critter and plenty of pictures, but nothing about how it makes a living. However, one insect collector in American Fork Canyon, Utah, had posted a splendid series of 12 life-cycle pictures. Starting with a female who laid 400 eggs in the first week of September, subsequent pix followed the caterpillar and pupa stages on to emergence of a new generation of arachnis. Great stuff!

Links for the End of August: The site where I found those pix was most interesting: Insect Net, a network for insect collectors (which means primarily butterflies and beetles, of course.) Forums, photo galleries & videos, news, shopping -- all in one place. While in the realm of nature, a picture from NASA of a curious cloud formation down under in Queensland -- they are called morning glory clouds, though they look more like rolled up crepes. Closer to home, I found a set of Flickr photos of our Citizens Cemetery.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


As you probably know by now, the decor of medical offices fascinates me. Since this is the time of year following my annual check up, I've been sent to a couple of specialists just on the off chance. Today's pictures remind me of why I became a journalist.

Back when I entered college, the standard career options for one of a female persuasion were 1) teaching, 2) nursing and 3) maybe social work (if you'd ever heard of it). To all of which I said, "no way!" As you guessed, the pictures remind me of the nursing choice; no stomach for all that icky stuff!

Of course, they also remind me that I was never going to be a real blood and guts newspaper reporter, either. I wound up working the trade press where the pinnacle of my career was one of the few in-depth interview allowed by Ray Croc, the man who invented McDonald's. (Also Col. Sanders, the real article.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

There's something about a gazebo...

...that says something about a town and a way of life. Especially in the hot days of summer.

A gazebo is a focal point for community events and I guess that we've always had one at our town Square, whether it was a 4th of July celebration in the early days -- or as a backdrop to the recent high school band concert. It is part of an inviting outdoor civic life that suggests we forgo contemporary air conditioned seclusion and the TV for a few hours and join the crowd -- almost always a great idea.

The other of our major gazebo venues over at the Sharlot Hall Museum grounds. (In this case, a fine opportunity for me to point out that there's no better combination than a gazebo and a brass band.) Though it is often home to musicians of various genres, periodically I see it being set up for a wedding or other special event.

While my mother lived over at Las Fuentes Assisted Living, we enjoyed afternoons at this pretty portable gazebo. Unfortunately, it did suffer from the winds and weather; I don't know if it is still there or not.

I'm envious of the folks who built their own private gazebo among the granites on the west side of town. What a lovely spot to enjoy a lemonade and a mystery novel on a lazy afternoon! Not bad for a party, either.

This being the west, people might quibble whether this structure is a ramada or a gazebo; my vote goes to the latter, as much for the privacy latticework as for the comparatively small size.

Memphis, which I visited last summer, was a great place for gazebos, especially on estates with large expanses of green lawn, sheltered by huge trees. Can't help imagining crinolines, bonnets and plenty of mint juleps. Though I wonder about the mosquitoes in the bad old days. The FNFM (Famous Niece from Memphis) helped me locate the local summer houses (you do recall that term, don't you?).

The ONFM (Other Niece from Memphis) drove me far out into the Tennessee countryside one day, where we saw these gazebos. More rustic in design and materials than their city cousins. More my style.

This lovely shelter overlooking the mighty Mississippi was featured at the National Ornamental Metal Museum. Yes, I'd gladly accept a copy of this belvidere, especially if the view came with it. As you might gather, it is made of iron -- and it is certainly ornamental. Quite the contrast to the so-called "gazebo" package I caught at one of the big box stores recently. Strictly for a casual hot dog and 6-pack scene, I would say.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


WOW! An entire blog entry dedicated just to me. Just because I cursed the fickle weather gods every time that Catalyst posted beautiful pictures of beautiful August clouds. All I could think of, looking at those clouds, was the rain they were not delivering. And so this morning, CatA posted scrumptious pix of water. Water falling from the sky, not only in Prescott Valley, but here in Prescott. Complete with dedication. It was reasonably good magic; we had several showers at my end of town. No downpour, but more than a trace.

If we had received a really good amount of moisture, I could not have taken these pictures of double shadows on my street. If you look carefully, you will see the standard dark shadows cast by the sun, when it reappeared. But those lighted areas? Those are the rain shadows cast by the tree canopies, holding back the raindrops.

The great tall Ponderosa pine down the street casts a rather small rainshadow. A bit more rain and those "shadows" would have been completely wiped out. Below, the pattern left on the roadway by a passing car.

By the time I took my walk this afternoon, about the only relic of the earlier rain was this puddle on a cement parking lot..

However, it was sufficiently cloudy this morning to persuade my fancy new morning glory to stay open most of the day. Seeds for that particular beauty were sent me by both my son-in-law and my daughter-in-law. I thank them -- and in thanks for his post, dedicate the picture to Catalyst.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Moss & lichen (mainly lichen)

These are definitely not today's photographs -- or yesterday's -- though I would normally expect such lush mosses in late August. However, we've not had our usual summer moisture this month; these photographs date from a happier time. The mosses grow in the crevices of the granite or other rocks, where moisture collects; the accompanying blue-green lichen spread out on the rock surfaces.

This is indeed a local scene; the pictures above are all from the rock cut just off Gurley Street to the west of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

When I was a high school biology student, mosses and lichen occupied a position in the botanical scheme of things just below the ferns, which in turn were just below the flowering plants, as measured in terms of biological complexity. Things are not so simple these days. Per the Arizona State University lichen site, lichens are a partnership between a fungus and either a green algae or a blue-green bacteria.

Lichen are tough customers, too. A sample sent out and exposed to space for over two weeks turned dormant and did not metabolize, but once returned to Earth, resumed normal activity and its DNA appeared not to have been damaged, according to a report in New Scientist, which noted that lichens have a tough mineral coating that could shield them from UV rays. They are also made from individual organisms layered on top of one another, so outer layers may provide protection for underlying cells. The organisms have already been shown to be capable of withstand high levels of UV radiation on Earth.

I don't have much exposed granite in up my hill, but lichen is quite happy growing on oak tree trunks and those stout mountain mahogany stems (above, below). Our common blue-green lichen is just one of 1400 species found in the Arizona/SoCalif/Sonora region.

When conditions are right (meaning very moist), lichen form fruiting bodies -- those round holes above -- which launch spores to spread the organism afield.

This pine tree trunk over at the Gurley Street site is covered with a yellow lichen; I do not know if this is a different species or actually the blue-green form that has died.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Big brass fix

Those cases lined up over at the Square could only mean one thing -- tubas! A chance for a great big brass fix. At 4 o'clock, the schedule said.

Yesterday's event? A benefit for the Prescott High School marching band, which needs the money for a trip to a London competition come January. Below, the requisite Tshirt, which was also the costume of the day for loads of kids from the high school.

Promptly at 4 p.m., there they were, tubas galore, climbing up to the stand in front of Bucky O'Neill. Couldn't help myself; I just kept taking pictures of those big, beautiful oom-pah instruments.

Two tubas...

three tubas...

five... and (below) I do believe that the little fellow at the end also is tooting a tuba, making for a total of six. I wonder: is there a minimum age or size requirement before a kid dare take up this huge horn?

Big bass drums, too.

Of course, there were also other brass instruments. Maybe even a fife or glockenspiel. That's what a marching band is all about. Not a single guitar -- for a change. Nor keyboard. I recall when pop music was all about brass and reeds. Remember, Bennie Goodman & Artie Shaw (clarinet) ... Louis Armstrong (trumpet) .. Tommy Dorsey (trombone). Admittedly, I can't recall any tuba players on yesterday's pop scene.

OK, I don't have a word for the banner players. But they were out in force. First cousins to drum majorettes, I guess, but without the gymnastics.

There were even Union Jacks fluttering on the Sunday afternoon breezes. A reminder of the reason for all that music on the Square.

Linkage: Let's start off with a new Prescott blogger that Tombo brought to my attention -- Sam-in-AZ, who recently moved here as a Vista volunteer. He's published several posts with a newbie's eye view of our fair town; kinda fun seeing what catches the attention of a newcomer. Plus: his background color is R.E.D. Oddball Observations sent me over to a lovely video of cats getting high on catnip. Lastly, Pop Mechanics introduces the dark side of sunflowers.
Photo Blog Blog Top Sites Blog Directory for Prescott, AZ

Local Blogs - Blog Top Sites