Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Shopping Carts

I happened to stop at my local Safeway grocery store the morning they had put out their brand new shopping carts.  They were all so neat and clean and fresh looking that I had to catch a photo of them.

Don't they look all neat and tidy lined up in the cart bin?  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Late June at the Garden

Our extremely high summer heat hit us all at once at the beginning of June and it takes a while for our bodies to adjust so I haven't been doing my Sunday walks at the garden for several weeks.  Yesterday, I decided to go at 6:00 AM when its open to members only and see if there was anything worthwhile to see.  There was plenty to see and the place was quiet with only 4 or 5 other people out and about.  I saw lots of white-winged doves looking for cactus fruit.

The bees were gathering at the watering hole to refresh themselves before they head out for their pollen gathering duties.

The chocolate daisies were soaking up the early morning sunshine.

And the queen butterflies were enjoying the taste of the fuzzy blooms on the Texas Ebony tree.  

In fact, the butterflies where sharing the bounty of the Texas Ebony tree with a few bees too!

And, lets not forget the little cactus wren who was busy building a nest in a chain-fruit cactus.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


I took a little drive around the neighborhood just to the east of where I live and noticed an abundance of gates.  Many of the houses in this area have gates on the properties.  The one above is surrounded by a garden of flowering plants.

The one to the left has a pretty design.

And, the one above looks like it could use a new paint job.  It made me wonder how that door on the right got so dirty.  It does look like it might be pushed open by a shoe quite often but, the dirt goes all the way to the top.  It's a mystery.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm highlighting one of the places I visited in Tucson a week ago.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mountain From a Mole Hill

When I was downtown recently I couldn't help but notice this huge mountain of dirt with the giant industrial excavator on top of it.  I'm pretty certain there was a flat piece of land with some type of single story building on it previously.  The old saying "making a mountain out of a mole hill" is what I immediately thought when I saw this.  I'll have to watch the progress here to see what exactly they will do next.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Art Challenge Club, Part 2

As I stated in yesterday's post, the second art challenge that we had to present was "Sunset".  For this one I got a little creative.  The photo above is my finished 'sunset' piece but, let me tell you how I got there.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a brunch at my friends Julie & Dave's house (most of you know them).  Many of the guests had not yet been to the new house so Julie took them on a tour and I tagged along and snapped a few photos as I went.  When we were standing in the studio room where Julie and Dave work on their own art pieces, I was attracted by the wall light fixtures in the room and proceeded to take a photo of one of them  That photo is below.

After downloading the photos, I was struck by how this resembled a sunset in a sort of abstract way.  I played around with the photo but I didn't care for any of the results because I thought there should be more light and less fixture.  So when I went back to Julie's the next night, I took another photo, the one below.

Using this photo I added brush strokes and two other effects and then I cropped the photo to emphasize the shades of light.  The photo at the top is the result.  I quite like it.  I think I like it enough to frame it and hang it on my wall.

Our next challenge will be "guilty pleasure".  Hmmm....I wonder what I can come up with for that one.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Art Challenge Club Meeting

My art club met last Friday evening and because of schedules, we skipped the May meeting so we had two different challenge works to display.  The first subject was "Secouez l'Aqueux" which we had to translate and the translation we settled on was "shake the water".  For my piece I did a triptych of photos that I took at the Arizona Falls park.  There is plenty of moving water at that park.  Here are the three photos I used.

I converted the photos to black and white because I thought they had more impact that way and then I framed them together.

Here is a somewhat bad photo of the framed result.

That water is definitely shaking.

The second subject we presented was "Sunset".  Tomorrow I'll show you what I did for that challenge.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Downtown Mural

I caught sight of this mural in downtown Phoenix as I was passing and turned around to get a photo.  The artist was actually there working on it at the time.  His name is Jeff Slim and he was working in a very narrow space between two buildings on a very hot day.  That's dedication.  He told me that this entire wall has been set aside for murals all by different artists.  I'll go back and get more shots of the others sometime soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Random Tucson Photos

I'm posting a few random shots from my weekend in Tucson today.  I'll go into more detail on some of the places I visited on my travel site sometime in the future.  First we have this lovely "Tucson" mural that I found near the downtown.  The sign in front of the building said it was a gallery but, I never found it open  while I was there.

My absolute favorite shot of the entire weekend was this one of a very curious young owl who was watching me through a shop window at the Tahono Chul Gardens.  I had never visited this place before and I must admit, I'll have to go back when the weather is cooler.  It was simply too hot to spend much time out doors with the sun bearing down.  When I stopped at the gift shop, the lady working there asked if I'd seen this owl hanging out just outside the window.  I got out my camera and the little guy became very curious, watching my every move.

I spent some time at the Tucson Museum of Art in downtown Tucson.  It's another place I had not visited before and I was very impressed.  The museum occupies several buildings that have been beautifully integrated with a new contemporary gallery that I loved.

I spent some time exploring the historic neighborhoods of Tucson looking for interesting historic buildings to photograph.  That's something I do every time I go but, this time I went a little further afield.

Another first was a visit to the Saint Augustine Cathedral in downtown Tucson.  This historic church was built in 1776 when Tucson was a part of the Royal Presidio territory of Spain.

I also visited the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, the studio and former home of the late artist Ted DeGrazia.  What a thoroughly enchanting place this turned out to be.  In addition to his wonderful works of art, many I had never seen before, the style of the gallery was breathtaking.

I'll post more information about each of these places on my travel site sometime in the future.  Each one held some surprises for me.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Trip to Tucson

I went to Tucson this last weekend and spent some time in art museums and galleries.  The photo above was in one of the gallery showings of a variety of art by Tucson based artists.  I thought this one was amazing.  It's by photographer William Lesch and it's a time lapse view of a thunderstorm over Tucson.  (It was taken from A Mountain for those familiar with the area.)  Here's what the artist said about it:

"The summer sky transforms itself from the featureless white-hot blue of June to the twisting, dark energy of July Thunderstorms."

It has quite an impact!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the Father's out there!

This photo goes way, way back.  This is my dad taken sometime in the early 70's.  When we first moved to Arizona, dad loved to take his jeep out and explore and he found this old mine opening.  We went back a week or two later and he had brought along some western duds so he could have his picture taken at the mine.  He's looking pretty darn cute, don't you think?

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm visiting and ancient wonder, the Colosseum in Rome.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Basking in the sun

It's certainly too hot for me to be basking in the sun right now but these guys seem to be built for the heat.  They've been out and about looking for some tasty insects to gobble up.

Is that a smile I see on his face?

Friday, June 19, 2015

On Guard

I found this fierce looking fellow guarding a house in one of the historic neighborhoods.  I'm not sure he'd scare any thieves away but, if he had a bit of a roar built in to him that might work.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Union Jack

I didn't notice this at first but after a minute or so, I though "what's that Union Jack doing flying over that home down there".

I have a favorite "high' spot that I visit every now and then to get some shots over the city or when the sky is particularly pretty.  One day not long ago I was standing up there when I spotted the flag in the distance.  It didn't register at first but then I realized it was a bit out of place.  There must be some Brits living in that house.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


...not the fabric but the restaurant!
There is a new locally owned restaurant in mid-town Phoenix located right on Central Avenue.  It's called Corduroy and it's in a building that was formerly a Schlotzky's sandwich shop.  The menu feature a large number of shared plates or tapas along with entrees, salads and sandwiches all with a just a bit of a Spanish touch.  That's Spanish as in Spain, not Mexico.  

The inside is warm and casual with exposed brick walls and stylish wicker furniture.  You can't see it in this photo but, the ceiling is covered with patterned tin tiles adding to the polished look.  I've been twice now and have enjoyed everything that I've tried.  I love the empanadas and the "Cuban Cigars" are quite tasty.  Those are like egg rolls with meats and cheese inside.  

One of my favorite parts of the decor were these great Mission style lamps.  I'd love to take one home with me.  

If you live in Phoenix, give Corduroy a try.  I think you'll find lots of tasty things await you.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

More than just time

This colorful display in the front of the Apple Store caught my eye.  Does anyone out there own one of the new Apple Watches?

I haven't even looked at one yet because I'm pretty sure it's not for me.  I have to find my reading glasses to read a text on my iPhone and to see the music playing on my iPod so, I'm pretty sure the watch would be out of the question.  I wouldn't be able to lift my arm if they made one big enough for me to read without reading glasses.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Russian Sage

On Saturday I drove up to Prescott Valley to visit my sister and was introduced to a new plant that I had not seen before.  I kept seeing these shrubs all along the street up to my sister's house so I asked her what they were.  She said she thought they were Russian Sage.  Sure enough, that's what it's called.  The plant is native to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Tibet and is not of the same genus as other plants called "sage".  

Wikipedia says that "it requires full sun, but is hardy and cold tolerant.  It is also tolerant of dry chalky soils with high pH, salt tolerant, and drought tolerant."  That makes them just about perfect for northern Arizona.  

I just thought they were quite beautiful lining the streets and decorating the yards.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Flag Day

It's Flag Day here in the United States so there will be flags flying all over!

Even people living in high-rise buildings will get the flag out today!  

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm featuring one of Picasso's hang-outs.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cheese and Stuff

I think I've posted a photo of this place before but, it's such a cute little place that I thought it deserved another shout out.  Cheese and Stuff is a tiny little deli with only one or two tables inside so most people take their sandwiches to go.  And, oh boy, what delicious sandwiches they are.  I've gotten several over the years and I've enjoyed every single one.  I think the corned beef on rye is my favorite.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Vanishing Phoenix

Looking for a hotel for your next visit to Phoenix?  This one probably wouldn't be on your list even if it was still open.  This is the old St. James Hotel on Madison Street in downtown Phoenix.  It has been sitting empty for a long time on property that is now owned by the Suns Legacy Partners (the owners of the Phoenix Suns basketball team).  Originally there were two old hotels on this property. The owners have demolished one of them but agreed to preserve the facade and lobby of this one.

It was a bit of a "skid row" kind of place when it was last in business but, back in 1929 when it was new it was just a nice downtown hotel used by travelers arriving in Phoenix by train.  It's been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985.  It will be interesting to see how this building will be incorporated into something new.  I've read that the lobby has a lot of old world charm.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Bench and the Flowers

Last Friday at the botanical garden, I notice those white flowers peeking out from behind this bench.  It made me wonder if anyone sat on the bench for a while and completely missed the gorgeous blooms right behind them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sunset Time

Monday night, David and I drove up to Julie's house and met Julie, her mother Glenda and another friend to help Julie polish off all the food left over from the party on Sunday.  (It's a tough job but someone has to do it.)  :-)  The remnants  of a tropical storm down toward Baja California had made it's way into the Phoenix area leaving us with some heavy clouds and heavy clouds make superb sunsets.    We weren't disappointed.  The sky lit up with all kinds of shades of red, orange and purple.

Later, as we were sipping some wine on the patio, the lights of Paradise Valley started to come on and light up the city below us while just a hint of the sunset remained in the background.  A beautiful sunset, good friends and lots (and lots) of great food made for another very entertaining evening.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Out of the scar.....

....comes something beautiful!

The last time I was at the garden, I found this cactus that has a rather large gash in it with a gorgeous flower growing right out that bad spot.  I'm not sure what happened to the cactus, probably some type of plant disease but, the cactus seems to have made the best of it.

It's given us something beautiful to look at right from that ugly scar.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

It's a Party!

Yesterday, Julie hosted a retirement party for a good friend of ours at her new house.  It was a perfect day for the party.  Lot's of sunshine.  Above is Julie greeting guests at the door.  Julie and Dave were great hosts.  The house is looking fantastic with only a few more things on their list to be done.

I volunteered to make the dessert for the party.  I made a strawberry cake that I haven't made in several years and I'm not sure why.  It looks great an tastes even better.  I need to make it again real soon.