Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Lions of Paradise Valley

Yesterday I said I'd show you the most common yard ornamentation I see in the Paradise Valley area.  It has to be the proud lion.  I see lions perched in a variety of places in front of many homes in Paradise Valley.

This one is sitting tall and proud like a soldier on duty.

This one is sitting atop a fence  in a more relaxed position but still alert and watching what is going on in front of him.

This one is looking very fierce with his paw on an orb and a little growl on his face.  

Even though they are outnumbered by lions, a horse or two also shows up in this area too.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Giant Butterfly

I found this giant butterfly lurking among the flowers in this yard of a home in Paradise Valley.  It actually was a rather different sort of yard ornamentation for the area.  Tomorrow I'll show you the most common animal I see sitting in yards in this part of the city.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Surprise Dessert

Last week I had lunch with my friend Glenda at our favorite watering hole, Zinc Bistro.  When we each ordered a glass of Prosecco, the waitress asked if we were celebrating something.  I said yes, we were celebrating one of life's little milestones (not the birthday kind).  After we devoured our lunch, the waitress brought us a gorgeous chocolate souffle complete with a sparkler candle.  Wasn't that sweet of her?  Thanks Zinc Bistro, it was delicious.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Domestic Duties

I was climbing the stairs in a parking garage when I spotted this pigeon sitting on a ledge in the stair well.  He just sat there keeping an eye on me as I made my way up the stairs.

When I rounded the corner on the landing I saw the "Mrs" sitting on a nest back in a hidden corner.  So I think Mr Pigeon was doing his domestic duty and watching out to keep the Mrs safe while she tends to her maternal chores.  Just a little slice of the domestic side of wildlife.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Last of the Old West Steak Houses

Since 1957 the Pinnacle Peak Patio has been serving up mesquite grilled steaks, their signature steak being a 32 ounce porterhouse.  I've had the pleasure of dining there at least two times but both times were a very, very long time ago.  The restaurant developed a reputation for snipping off the neckties of any gentleman who arrived formally dressed.  After all, it was a cowboy place, not a dress-up place.  All those ties got tacked to the ceiling and there were thousands of them.  As you can guess, guys wore a tie just so it could get cut off and left hanging in the restaurant.  The property sold a while ago and the restaurant is now closed.  There were a couple of other similar places in the north Scottsdale area but they all closed a long time ago.  This was the only one left.  The owners are supposedly looking for a new location but, I recently heard that an auction has been scheduled to sell off a lot of the restaurants memorabilia.  That sounds to me like there might not be a new place after all.

By the way, this is the near-by rocky outcropping that is called Pinnacle Peak that gave the old restaurant it's name.  It's not going anywhere!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Water Feature

There was one feature at the Scottsdale Quarter that I didn't tell you about in yesterday's post.  It's this splashy fountain area.

It was very popular with mothers and very young children.  I actually sat down and watched the sheer joy on those tiny tots faces as they ran through the streams of water.

I watched this young man fill up his bucket and then take it over to where his mother was sitting.  There was another child who would sit in the circle of the water spouts when they were low to the ground and then wait for them to shoot up in the air all around him until he was almost hidden by the wall of water.  I had fun just watching it all.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

New Shopping Experience

Last week I discovered a new shopping area in north Scottsdale that I had never visited before.  It's been there for about four years but, I don't get up in that area very often and when I do, I always end up at Kierland Commons, a place I've featured here a few times.  This place is called Scottsdale Quarter and it has a different look to it.  It sort of reminds me of shopping in the heart of a city's downtown.  All the shops face a street and a sidewalk.

The architecture is modern and attractive and there is a bit of street parking but there are three big parking garages for patrons to use.  That's a blessing in Arizona where any place to park the car out of the sun is a very welcome attraction.

I enjoyed walking around and exploring the place.  I found a few shops to browse and several restaurants to try.

There was even an American Girl store which brought back a few memories for me.  When I worked in Chicago in the late 90's the "American Girl" store was a new phenomenon to me.  I quickly learned that mothers from all over Illinois and the surrounding area would bring their daughters all the way to Chicago just to visit this store and purchase a special doll for their child.  I wonder if it's as big of a deal to young girls today as it was back then.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  There is a lot to see in the mountains of Italy.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Surviving Past Their Season

Just when I thought that I had seen the last of the lovely Jacaranda blooms for the season, I spotted this one right at eye level.  I was on the 3rd level of a parking garage when I caught site of these lovely lavender blooms.

They appeared to be the only ones remaining on this tree and they certainly have outlasted their normal season.  I hadn't seen any jacaranda booms since mid-May.  I'm glad I got one more look at their delicate bell shaped flowers.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Just Another Burger Joint

Remember last month when I featured the story about the new burger place called Hopdoddy?  Well, I discovered that about the same time that Hopdoddy opened, another new burger place also set up business in the valley.  It's called Shake Shack.  So, yesterday I had an opportunity to give it a try.  Above is the burger I ordered. It was called a "smokeshack" because it has smoked bacon on it.  I'm here to tell you there is no comparison.  Hopdoddy has the far (and I do mean far) more delicious burger.  This one had a much thinner patty, flavorless cheese and a rather pain-Jane bun.

Their menu is rather limited too.  They only have five burgers on the menu along with a chicken sandwich and a few hot dogs.  And, their five burgers are pretty basic.  Hopdoddy has eight very different and very creative burgers along with a club sandwich, a tuna burger and a vegetarian burger.  In my book, Hopddody wins, hands down!  What's even better is that Hopdoddy is closer to where I live.!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Blessings to All

This sculpture sits in Old Town Scottsdale right in the heart of the gallery and souvenir shopping area.  It's called "Blessings to All" by Elk Woman.

Elk Woman (Kathy Whitman) is a phoenix based artist who creates jewelry as well as sculptures.  She currently has sculptures at a show at the Museum of Indian Arts And Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This sculptures is a well know welcoming sign in the heart of Scottsdale.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Nature Photography

Late last night I happened to check that National Recognition Day calendar and saw that today is National Nature Photography Day.  I decided to change the post I had for today and dedicate this one to some Nature Photography.  This guy looks petty darn serious about his nature photography.

My camera isn't anywhere near as big as that one above but, I think it still does a fine job of capturing the beauty that nature has to offer.  This blue hibiscus is a fine example.

This claret cup cactus bloom is also looking pretty good.  Go out and photograph some nature today!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Walk in the Park

I took a walk at Papago Park Sunday morning before it got too warm.   It was quite pleasant.  
Not too many people about.  The lagoon water was very still so it made great reflections of the palm grove.

The cattails were tall and seemed to be framing the picnic ramada.

Those purple flowers I featured yesterday were blooming all around the lagoon.

And the dragonflies were buzzing all around and keeping an eye on things.
Doesn't this one look like he's smiling?

Monday, June 13, 2016

At a Loss for Words

I'm having a hard time finding the words to express my grief over yesterday's tragic event.  The magnitude of loss is as overwhelming to me as the incomprehensible hate that generated it.  My heart is aching......once again.

Photo:  Some purple flowers I saw yesterday growing near the lagoon at Papago Park.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Admiring more Sculptures

Yesterday I featured two bronze sculptures by artist Doug Hyde that are located at the Heard Museum.  Those two aren't the only of his sculptures on display.  Today I have three more to admire.

This first one is titled "Zuni Girl".  It is a beautiful bronze with very smooth lines and a traditional look.

Doug Hyde doesn't only sculpt in bronze, he also uses stone and these two are also his works.  The grouping is titled "Flag Song" and it's sculpted from Tennessee pink marble.

This last one is also by Doug Hyde, this one sculpted from limestone.  It's called "The Dollmaker".  All of these sculptures are located around the grounds of the Heard Museum and can easily be seen by anyone who stops by the museum.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm taking my very first walk around the streets of Rome.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Southwest Summer Showers

There are two of these sculptures on the grounds of the Heard Museum.  Both are by artist Doug Hyde, another well known Native American artist in the southwest.

On the day I was there, the sun was so bright, I didn't blame this young lady for shading herself. It looks completely natural.  But, the title to the sculptures is "Southwest Summer Showers".  Those happen too, especially in the northern half of our state.

I had to get up close to get a shot of this young lady's face.  That umbrella was doing a great job of shading her.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Rare Sight

I spotted this fellow on a palm tree in Tempe a while ago and had to get a shot.  According to my "Birds of Arizona" book, it's an Acorn Woodpecker.  I don't think I've ever seen one before.  He's a handsome fellow.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

For-Profit Education

Around 10 years ago when I worked in Chandler Arizona, I had to drive by these two buildings every day to and from work.  If it was dark when I was driving home, these buildings would be completely lit up inside and I always wondered why so many offices would be busy until so late in the evening.  This is the headquarters for the University of Phoenix a for-profit education group owned by the Apollo Education Group.  I'm sure most of you have heard of this school.  They have 91 campuses world wide although that number is declining as they close some of them because of falling enrollments.  Enrollment hit a high of 600,000 students in 2010 but, is down to 162,000 in 2016.  These two buildings are listed as the corporate headquarters.  There are a few other large buildings scattered around the valley that are called "campuses" however, most of the schools classes are taught on-line.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Abstract Mural

This new mural has recently been discovered on the side of a newly remodeled apartment complex. It's only visible from the alley that runs beside the building and the alley is so narrow that I had to take the photo at a bit of an angle.  I like the abstract look but I have to admit, others have told me they hate it.  I guess it's a good thing it's only visible from the alley.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Art and Sanity....revisited

I featured this piece of public art way back in 2009.  You can see the original post with a description here.

The piece is by artist Louise Bourgeois, world-renowned artist of large-scale sculptures.

This piece sits in the atrium of the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix.  Symphony Hall is up those stairs to the right in this photo and the convention center meeting rooms are to the left on several floors.

The piece is called "Art is a Guarantee of Sanity" which you can see reflected in red in the mirror from the mirror's frame.  I'm reflected in the mirror too (somewhere down there) as I take the photo.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Pioneering Spirit

I found this statue outside of one of the government buildings in downtown Phoenix.  It has no plaque to identify the artist or the name of the piece.  It has a bit of a pioneer look to it with the man here helping the horse carrying his wife over the rocks.

It's not a huge sculpture, only about 5 to 6 feet tall and sitting on a pedestal or plinth.  It's just a guess but, I think it's been sitting here (or somewhere else before here) for a long time.  It looks like it's seen its share of the elements.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

First Night Dining Experience

Does anyone remember this iconic building that I featured back in 2011?

Local celebrity chef Silvana Salcido Esparza opened a new restaurant in that very same building called Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva.  It's first official day of operation was last Thursday and my friend David and I got to be there for that debut dinner.

The area where this building is located is a little rough around the edges but, an abundance of artist's studios and small galleries are giving it a well deserved face lift.

As for the old Bragg's Pie Factory building, Esparza and her team have turned it into a gourmet jewel, fit for the eye as well as the stomach.

The dining room is tiny but well appointed and decorated with wonderful murals with a south of the border theme.

The menu reflects the chef's roots and showcases dishes that you won't find on any other Mexican Restaurant near here.

I had a dish that was featured on the "tasting menu" called Chicharron de Pancita, a pork dish with hints of cinnamon and served with fresh avocado and a roasted peanut and cascabel-honey salsa.  It was crispy at the edges with delicious flavors.

David had a dish called Tacuba.  It was enchilada with spinach, queso de cabre and salsa de creme y chile poblano.  The little taste I had was mouth-watering good.

Chef Esparza has a loyal following of people who love her food so getting into this tiny place in the future will be a challenge but, I'm sure we will be back.  There were a lot of other things on this menu that I would love to try.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm taking a walk around a California island.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Things are Heating Up

And I'm not talking about the election.  They are predicting temperatures around 114 degrees today.  That's 46 C for you celsius people.  Standing in front of a wall like this with the sun shining directly on it can feel like you are in an oven.  They tell us it will cool off a bit after next week.  Fingers crossed.  It's too early to be this hot.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Warning: Gratuitous Cuteness Ahead

I spotted these two enjoying the cool waters of the fountain at the Scottsdale Civic Center last weekend.  They were just too cute to pass up.

This little fellow was learning the ropes from his very patient mother.  I didn't see any sign of dad.  All of the ducks floating in the fountain were females and this was the only duckling.  It must have been ladies day at the civic center.