All posts tagged: Arizona

Wonkey Weaving Gourd Baskets

I’ve taken three Gourd Art classes from a talented artist,  Margaret Sullivan of Rio Verde, Arizona.  In two of the classes we used very large gourds that we stained with leather dyes before we launched into the time consuming technique called ‘Wonkey Weaving’. The bare bones of the weaving is done with reeds soaked in water to make them pliable. The wonkey meant you were supposed to leave lots of odd shaped gaps to fill in later with wool or other pliable materials. My first gourd had not become very ‘wonkey’ at all by the end of the class. I took it home and completed the rest of the weaving and added purchased feathers and beads. At the second class, I achieved wonkey. In the third class, we made a Totem Pole  from small gourds. We stained the gourds, etched them with a dremel, then decorated them with feathers, beads and paint. Back in Canada, I could add feathers that I had collected from the grounds around our house. (In Alberta, it is legal to …

Canadian Flag Pin and Bobbins

A simple photo of a Canadian Flag lapel pin and the bobbins from my sewing machine. Why? Good question that has no answer. I bought an old sewing machine at an estate sale in Arizona. The owner had recently died, so I couldn’t ask her why she had a Canadian flag lapel pin in the box of sewing supplies and bobbins!

Springtime Blooms – Arizona and Alberta

My Place in the World is in the Garden with my camera! The best part about living part time in Arizona is that I get to experience spring twice! In April, when Alberta might still be experiencing snow storms, our Arizona home is at the height of spring blooming! We have a large old Ironwood tree on our property. It is estimated that these trees can live for hundreds and hundreds of years. It sheds its leaves annually just before it blooms. The flowers are pea like (because it is a member of that family) and the entire tree becomes a dusky pink colour during full bloom. The Ironwood often serves as a backdrop to the giant Saguaro cactus. The Saguaro can live for 150 to 200 years and it can grow 40 to 60 ft tall (12 to 18 meters). It is very slow growing and can be decades old before it sprouts arms or blooms. The Prickly Pear cactus is the ‘rat’ of the neighbourhood for the simple reason that the resident rodents …

A Line Up of Sunrises

We have a roof top patio in Arizona – a perfect place for watching sunrises, sunsets, and star gazing. The science behind contrails is fascinating. Contrails should never be a cause for alarm; after all, folks don’t flip out on chilly days when their breath forms a cloud. If it’s cold enough and the air is still, you might even notice a cloud hanging behind you for several meters. – What really comes out of an airplane? Contrails, not chemtrails, The Washington Post – Are you on a flight path? Are the planes loud and noisy, or so high you don’t even notice them? This week’s WordPress.com photo Challenge is Lines.

Arizona

Rosemary, Rabbits and Rattlers

This story starts with a large clump of Rosemary. It has apparently become the home of an Arizona Cottontail Rabbit – or I think that is so, since I have seen it (the rabbit) bolt from there on a number of occasions. It is a very handsome rabbit and except for it’s fondness for the leaves of my Torch Glow Bougainvillea, it isn’t what I’d call a pest. I would have thought the Rabbit would eat the rosemary leaves too, but if it is so inclined, it isn’t making much of dent in the rapidly spreading foliage! Yesterday, a new dessert occupant appeared on our patio. At first, I thought it was another non-venomous gopher snake. We see them relatively frequently in our yard. However, when the snake finally decided to slither away, I realized that the pointed end of its 3 foot body was suspiciously rattler-like. I have to admit that I was startled when The Car Guy pointed out that the snake had chosen to come within 15 feet of where I was …

Blanche Russell Rock Houses

A few years ago, after a visit to the Grand Canyon, we drove east on Hgw 64, then north on Hgws 89 and 89A. We crossed the Colorado River on the Navajo Bridge, and were on final approach to the Vermillion Cliffs when we were surprised to see some mushroom shaped rocks that looked like a group of Smurfs had built houses under them. We stopped to investigate  and quickly realized they really were ‘Tiny Houses’. A worn and badly damaged sign nearby told the story of  Blanche Russell  and her husband William (Bill), whose car broke down in the area in about 1927 (or maybe 1920)… The pair took shelter under the mushroom rocks over night. Blanche liked the area so much that she bought the property and built permanent structures. She lived there for about 10 years and operated a business. When I looked online for more information about the Blanche Russel Rock Houses, I found a number of  ‘folklore’ stories on several sites: “Around 1927, Blanch Russell’s car broke down as she traveled …

I’d Rather Be… Here than There

March is a strange month. It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations – I’d rather be here where it is warm: Than there where it is cold: This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is I’d Rather Be… Where would you rather be?

Faces in the Car Show Crowd

January and February are the best time of the year for the car buffs in Arizona! This year The Car Guy went to Russo and Steele, Silver Auction at Fort McDowell and the Fountain Hills Concours in the Hills. He would have gone to Barrett-Jackson too, but got tired of trying to find a place to park. At my other blog, Almost Artistic, I used several filters on the same photos – the faces are not nearly so recognizable: Faces at the Car Show. This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is A Face in the Crowd.

Bubble

I could have (okay I did) spend hours one afternoon in front of a water fountain – taking photos of ‘never two the same’ Shape Shifting Blobs and impressively big Bubbles. Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble. – William Shakespeare –

Canadian Snowbirds – Renewing a Prescription Drug in Arizona

Good News for Canadian Snowbirds! If you are going to run out of a prescription drug before you can get back to Canada, there could be a way you can get it refilled. Take the remaining medication to a local Urgent Care (Primary Care Walk-in) Centre (we used the one nearest  to us, in Fountain Hills Arizona). Be sure the medication is in the original container with the label from the pharmacy that filled your prescription. The Doctors or Nurse Practitioners will give you a similar check-up to what your doctor at home would do before renewing your prescription. There will, of course, be a fee for this service. The prescription will be sent to a pharmacy of your choice for pick-up the next day. Totally unrelated to this topic – I’ve edited the following popular Snowbird joke that circulates in emails. I made it an Alberta/Arizona joke instead of Minneapolis/Florida (though it is rather far fetched to think someone would choose to honeymoon in Arizona…) An Alberta couple decided to go to Arizona to …

Looking at Bridges

Bamberg is an beautiful example of an early medieval town in central Europe. It has a large number of surviving ecclesiastical and secular buildings. It is crisscrossed by many rivers, winding canals, and bridges. Some of the bridges are old and famous and some, like this one, are more modern, but don’t detract from the architecture of the surrounding buildings. Deception Pass Bridge is the common name for two, two-lane bridges that connect Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island in the U.S. state of Washington. Pass Island lies between the two bridges.   Navajo Bridge – The original Navajo Bridge was completed and opened to traffic in January 1929. Prior to the building of the bridge, the only way to cross the Colorado River and its formidable gorge was at Lee’s Ferry a short distance upstream. Construction on a new, wider bridge began in May of 1993. The old bridge became a walking bridge.

An Artistic Look at Bridges

‘Post processing’ or photo editing can not only slightly improve a photo, it can extensively alter it! Here are a few ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples I applied to photos of Bridges. Bamberg is an beautiful example of an early medieval town in central Europe. It has a large number of surviving ecclesiastical and secular buildings. It is crisscrossed by many rivers, winding canals, and bridges. Some of the bridges are old and famous and some, like this one, are more modern, but don’t detract from the architecture of the surrounding buildings. In keeping with the feel of an ancient European City, I used a Watercolor filter. _________________________________ Deception Pass Bridge is the common name for two, two-lane bridges that connect Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island in the U.S. state of Washington. Pass Island lies between the two bridges. I used a filter called Emergence, which is really a series of triangles. I like the way they highlighted the red rose hips. _________________________________ Navajo Bridge – The original Navajo Bridge was completed and opened to traffic …

Grow Up, Snake!

Transient – a snake passing through the yard, my ‘fear’ of said snake, the snakes skin. I have to say at the outset that I don’t really like snakes all that much. Not big snakes, for sure. (A snake always looks bigger than it really is, by the way.) So the first time I saw a ‘pretty big’ snake in my yard in Arizona, I was a bit ‘freaked’ out. It looked suspiciously like a Rattlesnake… Fortunately, our local Fire Department comes running when you call and ask for their Snake Removal assistance. I think they would rather deal with a snake than with a snake bite. The snake turned out to be a Gopher (or Bull) Snake. From a safe distance, Gopher snakes and Rattlesnakes resemble each other – they have the same sort of markings and colors. When I’d calmed down, and took a closer look, I saw how the Gopher Snake differed from a Rattlesnake. Both snakes can be a bit short-tempered. The Gopher Snake will rise to a striking position, flatten …

Cactus Spines – A ‘Don’t Touch Me’ World

Living in Arizona has taught me a few things about the Danger of Cactus Spines! While it is unlikely they would cause any serious reaction, the punctures can be painful! When I go on a ‘Nature’ walk, I carry a pair of pliers to pull cactus spines out of the soles of my shoes. When I am working in my yard, I wear thick leather gloves, and I never back up without knowing which plant is poised and ready to attack my leg. Even plants in the succulent family can inflict damage – Agave leaves can have razor sharp edges or wicked spears on the tips. Like a porcupine, some cactus readily shed their spines into your skin. Usually I can remove them with a pair of tweezers. Then it is a simple matter to wash off the blood, and apply an antiseptic of some sort. If I had been attacked by a large number of very small ‘hairy’ spines, there are apparently several ‘bulk removal’ methods. The first is to spread a layer of …

Many Rocks and a Lot of Hardscape

Earth – the substance of the land surface – in my part of Arizona it reminds me of the saying ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’! Landscaping strategies here include generous numbers of Rocks and plenty of gravel Hardscape. Our yard consists of a gravel mulch that covers soil that is a course reddish material with large sections of impenetrable caliche (soil particles that have been cemented together by calcium carbonate.) Meandering from one end of the yard to the other is a stone feature I call ‘Big River’. ‘Big River’ is a make believe creek bed that only gets wet when it rains. ‘Big River’ begins in a spiral rock feature I call ‘The Maze’. A large stone lizard slithers towards the patio and breaks the monotony of yet some more gravel (the maze area is in the distance.) In contrast, Earth at our Alberta house is a rich black soil. A carpet of green grass (sometimes a blanket of dead yellow grass if we don’t get enough rain) circles flower beds and …

Saguaro Cactus – Slow Growing Giants

Plant Profile Common Name: Saguaro Cactus Scientific Name: Carnegiea gigantea Native to: Sonoran desert – limited to southern Arizona Growth: all growth occurs at the tip of the cactus. The rate of growth is very slow. Under natural conditions it may take 20 years to attain one foot in height. By age 50 it could be seven feet tall. By age 100 it could be 25 feet tall. It usually starts to grow arms between 50 to 100 years of age (average 70), and it may live for 200 years or more Blooms: first blooms between 40 and 75 (average 55) years old. Comment: Some saguaros have dozens of arms, while others never produce arms. Growth rate, size and number of arms are likely affected by the amount of moisture.

The Greenery of Arizona

You might not think of the word ‘green’ when you think of Arizona – but the State is more than just desert with a few cactus! The Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens is a showcase of arid-land plants from deserts around the world. This Dale Chihuly Glass Sculpture– Desert Towers welcomes visitors. It was installed as the entry-point to Chihuly’s first Desert Botanical exhibition in 2008. The installation was purchased by the Garden as a legacy to the exhibition. East of Phoenix are the Superstition Mountains. In the spring, they sport a coat of green, sprinkled with bursts of color when the desert plants bloom. The mountains rise steeply to an elevation of 5,024 feet, and are characterized by sheer-sided, jagged, volcanic peaks and ridges. North and east of Phoenix is the Water Users Recreation Site on the Salt River in Tonto National Forest. The Tonto National Forest, encompassing 2,873,200 acres, is the largest of the six national forests in Arizona and is the fifth largest national forest in the United States. North of Phoenix is …

Ocotillo – Prickly but I Wish Mine Would Grow Leaves

There are plants on the Arizona hillsides that look like bunches of spiny crooked dead sticks. They are the Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens). The photo above is of my plants. They are leafless. Small 2 inch leaves will grow from the stems when there is enough moisture. They may lose these leaves, and then sprout new ones, five to eight times a year. Dense clusters of red tubular flowers grow from the end of the stems from March through June. Here in our Arizona neighbourhood, most of the Ocotillos have leafed out, and many have started to bloom. I wish my ocotillo would grow leaves and bloom too!  Maybe those tiny reddish brown buds are the first signs of life… This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Wish.