Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Walking no more

How to say this?

Julie--GrannyJ--died Monday evening in the hospital.

I have been meaning to post an update for everyone about her hospital stay; she wanted me to let y'all know that she had a "shiny new toy"--aka pacemaker--and was healing up and ready to start blogging again. But, alas, I kept putting it off.

She entered the hospital two weeks ago for shortness of breath, which was diagnosed as bronchitis. While she was there, her cardiologist and her care doctor decided she needed the pacemaker, stat. While they were implanting the pacemaker, she suffered a collapsed lung. Things seemed to be getting better; she was healing, she had good color, she was just waiting to get out and was looking forward to having me take her on a few drives.

But then she suffered an additional post-surgery complication, something called an "ileus", which means your digestive tract has shut down. Normally, an ileus resolves itself, but hers persisted, and the docs were trying everything they could.

Nothing worked.

Her body--tired of all the medical procedures--simply gave out, she had a breathing crisis, and then her heartbeat plummeted (even with her fancy "shiny new toy"). I was there, holding her hand, while she passed. Far better this way than spending a few more years declining more and more.

She loved this blog, and all her interactions with every one of her commenters. I know you all will miss her--but not as much as I will, and the rest of her family and IRL friends.

The picture at the top is of her and my father, when they were newly a couple. The picture below is from just two years ago, showing her with her trusty walking stick and one of her favorite R.E.D. sweatshirts with a splendid northwest coastal Indian graphic. She loved exploring Arizona, and even as her health deteriorated, she did her best to keep exploring.

If you feel like doing something in her name, I was thinking that you should try to locate a local wildflower organization and donate to it in her name. Mom loved wildflowers, and she did her best to cultivate them in her gardens over the years. Sometimes it succeeded, sometimes it didn't. One of her joys was venturing out into the woods, whether the various forest preserves around the Chicago area, or the national forests here in Arizona, and discovering which flowers were out and about.

I will probably be posting various memories for a while at my own blog; you are welcome to come read and share.

Peace and blessings to you all--OmegaMom/Kate

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Pretty little plaques

When my daughter was stuck with the agony of moving me & my stuff into my small ALF apartment, she made a selection of art and artifacts from the overload at the house. Among the items that made the cut were these three Mexican plaques in the classic talavera style; they now greet me in my bathroom. And they add three words to my Spanish vocabulary. First is, of course, butterfly.

Now you know what to call a quail when south of the border.

It took a bit more work with the various search engines to verify that venada is indeed a word for deer and not just a particular member of the lepidoptra (i.e., una mariposa). In fact, I would venture to guess that it is the preferred word in Mexico, but not in Spain.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Water for a thirsty region

Water is a precious commodity out here in the arid West -- one reason that these old rusty tanks in the outback are so poignant. The pair are located along the unpaved county road that parallels the Santa Maria River between US93 and the Bagdad Road and I would guess that they are still in use.

Also in the outback: above, in the desert near Bumblebee ... and, below, in the forest near Crown King.

Since dust is a no-no per the EPA (even in the Arizona desert -- huh?), portable water tanks are the first sign of a new construction project. The idea is to spray precious water when those bright yellow machines start moving earth.

This tank is near the railroad in Hillside; maybe it isn't for water -- but I recall the era of steam locomotives when special water dispensers were strategically located along the track.

Ash Fork's city water tank; the town's water comes from two reservoirs that had been created many years ago to serve the Santa Fe.

One of several water tanks maintained by the city of Prescott, visible from SR69.

These are also city tanks on a hillside just east of Willow Creek Road. The long zoom shot is from my balcony, where all I can actually see are the tall antennas; when I first viewed the image, I was quite surprised by the water tanks.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Route of the painted rocks

My email brought me a new addition to the collection of big painted rocks you'll find around Yavapai County. This fellow is located somewhere in the Dells -- and I don't know if he is a casual, one-time fancy or an icon who will be renewed for decades. The other important rocks can all be viewed in one big circle route, starting down at Congress.

I'm all of 83 -- and I recall Frog Rock, along SR 89 down by Congress, from my childhood. One tale has it that a homestead wife, Sara Perkins, first painted it in 1926; according to a 1977 story in the AZ Republic, the rock was painted by a part time prospector, ex-sailor, and practical joker deluxe. As befits a folk art, the frog is periodically touched up and/or repainted by unnamed locals.

Once you have started your rock art tour at Frog Rock, turn left a couple of miles down the pike onto the Date Creek Road; it's a well graded dirt road, maintained by the county. A handful of miles in, a huge skull right next to the railroad track will grin at you. As I hear it, the skull is kept in shape by railroad workers. (BTW, the Date Creek at-grade crossing much further along can be dicey after a major snow melt or big downpour.)

Continue driving on the Date Creek Road which will eventually take you through the hamlet of Hillside and thence toward Yava. The duck is out in the middle of the prickly pear among the volcanic rocks off to your right. Past Yava at Kirkland Creek, a right turn in the highway puts you on the Thompson Valley Road to Kirkland, with a left turn onto Iron Springs Road, heading into Prescott via Skull Valley.

This stela is a feature at the high point on Iron Springs Road, just before the turnoff to Highland Pines. I've no idea of its history; I presume it is a clown. Like the other painted rocks, it is mysteriously maintained.

I know, I know -- it's a long, long haul from the top of Iron Springs Road down to the elephant bend on the Yarnell Hill segment of SR89 -- but then, I did declare this to be a great circle route and you're almost back to Frog Rock. Just incidentally, I was told that somebody/bodies recently mucked up the elephant, but that it was put to rights very soon thereafter. My only questions: why the elephant in the first place?

Here is another set of painted rocks, seen on one of my neighborhood walks. Nothing as elegant as the monumental folk art in the previous pictures, but a nice suprise at that.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Prescott's IOOF Cemetery

Elks. Moose. Eagles. Masons. Modern Woodmen. Knights of Pythias. Odd Fellows. Today one seldom hears mention of these fraternal orders, remnants of a different past, when many people in American towns small and large joined together voluntarily to solve problems -- and enjoy one another's society. deToqueville wrote about it in the 19th century; most recently, a pop sociologist produced another book on the great change away from social bonding, Bowling Alone.

A quick check of the local yellow pages showed that the Elks, Eagles, Moose and Odd Fellows are still in business as well as the Masons, though one seldom hears mention. Certainly the heritage remains: the great silvery elk atop the old opera house ... the recently refurbished Knights of Pythias building, one of the oldest in town ... the IOOF cemetery, as well.

Larger than I had expected, it's located in the hills at the foot of Virginia Street and still accepts burials. None of the famous Prescottonians are interred here, though there is one "friend" of Billy the Kid, John William Young Kinney, a cattle rustler.

Monuments range from the oversized memorial dedicated to the Rebekah women's lodge above to a simple wooden cross erected in 2003.

A profusion of color is evidence that this continues as an active burial ground.

Above -- a child's grave; below, the tragic story of one family's loss. Visit an old cemetery to be reminded the high death rate of youngsters a century ago.

Guy was Honest. Brave. True. What about Hannie, his wife?

Another simple, homemade cross.

Is this, perhaps, a shovel -- symbolizing a life spent in the mines? Below, a flagstone memorial.

More information about this grave marker will be found among this group of photos.

Here, a freshly dug grave.

And the raven who presides over it all.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The old flume -- then & now

Friend Andy C. sent this image of an old postcard entitled simply "an irrigation system near Prescott Arizona". He believes it is the original flume carrying water from Willow Creek in the Dells to the Bianconi Ranch. A brief history he passed along:

This property may have been owned by Joseph Curtis who grew peaches and melons prior to sale to Alfred Clough in 1877. Sharlot Hall Museum has photos of vineyards, apple trees, and a fishing lake on the Clough property. He died in 1908 and the ranch was bought by John Bianconi. Bianconi had the largest peach orchard in the state here (34 a) and produced many other crops. The Bianconi Brothers won many ribbons at the Arizona State Fair and the Northern Arizona Fair (later YC Fair). The flume was present by 1911. In 1936 when the Willow Lake Dam was built, Bianconi sued and received an award of water from the Chino Valley Irrigation District. This was all for naught, as his peach trees caught peach mosaic and were destroyed to prevent spread of the disease. The ranch was sold to a cattle rancher in 1941 and was bought by Robert H. Kieckhefer about 1950.

The remains I photographed last fall are the final bones of the flume system.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Elderly housing notes

One of the views from my window: The Bradshaw, a subsidized apartment complex for the elderly. It's about to grow to fill an empty acre or two to the rear...

...where a small version of those ubiquitous yellow earth moving machines was out and about recently, digging up the bush. Next day, I spotted a former tree...

...and a heap of the usual detritus that spontaneously erupts on vacant land.

The following morning, the smallish machine was hunkered down behind a wall of diggings, which it began to attack as soon as it awakened.

More machines later, more earth was being moved from a heap here to a pile there.

The white truck? An amenity -- once in a while it squirts water (below) to keep the dust in line. Wonder how much that adds to the cost of the project...

Gotcha -- took several tries to catch the shovel dumping!

While on the topic of senior housing: in February my zoom lens nearly gave me a decent hint of what's happening near Las Fuentes at Canterbury Lane, where a project called The Boulders might be underway. That would be my interpretation of the tall mounds of earth plus two hints of earth-moving yellow equipment to the right. Sorry for all the guesswork, but our local paper doesn't follow through on projects once details are nailed down to the satisfaction of building & zoning officials.

All of which led me to further checking. Weren't there other senior housing plans afoot? The answer, yes. Highgate Senior Living Community in Prescott Lakes. A big expansion of Granite Gate in the Dells. Plus a major complex on the JC Ranch property in Chino Valley. Sound like a lot of competition for the senior $$$; perhaps the investors anticipate an influx of Californians seeking lower cost quarters in Arizona. Or just maybe one or more of these projects will evaporate as did those Montezuma/Goodwin corner condos.

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