Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Last House on the Garden Tour

It had started to rain again by the time we made it to the last house on the Phoenix Home & Garden tour a few weeks ago.  The last house turned out to be a very livable space, much smaller than the enormous houses we had just visited.

The yard was neatly trimmed with lots of potted plants to surround the pool area.

The pool was much smaller too.  It was more like a backyard pool rather than a resort pool.

My favorite spot in the yard was this cozy little place around the fireplace.  It's very colorful and looks like a comfortable place to entertain guests.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Death of a Shopping Mall

Back in the mid-80's, I was living in Mesa Arizona and working at a brand new bank branch that sat on the outskirts of what was then a beautiful mall, Fiesta Mall.

The mall sat on a sort of low hill with parking encircling the building. 

The parking lot was so full of cars all the time, that a few years after the mall opened they built this two-story parking garage to help reduce the congestion.  I was out in this area recently and was shocked at what I saw here.  Almost all the big stores have closed and the parking lot is a vast emptiness.  I have no idea why this mall is dying.  The residential neighborhoods around here appear to be stable.  It's a little sad to see.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Another Big House & Elaborate Garden

This is another one of the houses from the Phoenix Home & Garden tour of gardens a few weeks ago.  This home is located in a gated community and the guard at the gate was sure to tell us that our pass allowed us to go to this house but it did not allow us to drive around the neighborhood.  We didn't break the rules but, we did park far enough away that we walked past several grand estates before arriving at this one.

As we entered the back yard, these playful sculptures seemed to be showing the way.

Once again, I thought the pool area looked more like a resort than a private home.

The outdoor dining area was surrounded by a sculpted garden.  This place was a little too commercial looking for my taste.  I'm not sure I'd be able to relax in a place like this.  I have one more of these gardens to show you in the coming days.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chance Encounter

I have not seen any of these peach-faced lovebirds anywhere around where I now live and I do so miss seeing them play in my back yard at the old place.  Weekend before last, I was driving around  an area not too far from where I live when I heard the distinctive call of these funny birds.  I parked the car and started walking around to see if I could see where they were and sure enough I spotted a whole group of them scattered about in three different trees.

They kept a close eye on me.  They probably wondered what I was doing and why I was pointing that contraption at them.  The one's that used to play in my yard got used to seeing the camera and didn't seem to let it bother them.

This group was a little more timid but I managed to get a few shots anyway.  I wish I could lure them to the tree outside my balcony.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Designer Shoes!!

I mentioned on Sunday's post that the exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum had an element of fashion to it.  (That exhibit featured pieces from private collections.)  Here is one of the fashion elements.  Designer shoes!  I had a lot of fun examining these beauties even more closely than the lady in the above photo.  I recognized several of the designer labels but there were quite a few that I had never heard of before.  I do love shoes so I'm just a tiny bit envious of the woman who owns all of these.

I thought this was an especially nice shoe with a scene from "The Woman in Gold" on the side of the silk shoe.  It beautifully depicts Gustave Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.  The shoe was designed by Claudio Merazzi of Italy.  He's one of the shoe designers I had not heard of before.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Birds and the Bees

I didn't see any dedicated birdwatchers early Sunday morning on my walk at the Desert Botanical Garden.  I hate to tell them that they missed the perfect day for observing our feathered friends.  I captured some really great shots.  Above we have a female Lesser Goldfinch.

I'm not positive about this one but I think it's a female House Finch.

I believe this one is a male Verdin.

This one is an Anna's Hummingbird.

And this bright fellow is a male House Finch.

Let's not forget about the bees.  They were pretty active too!

All in all, it was a perfect morning for a walk and to observe nature at work.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


I was at the Phoenix Art Museum on Saturday and I saw a show called Phoenix Rising.  It was an exhibit of a variety of art works in the private collections of Phoenix residents.  So, most of the pieces on exhibit have not been publicly viewed before.  There was everything from masterworks by Monet to little known artists using all kinds of media.  There was even a fashion element to the show.  (I'll show you more about the fashion piece in a future post.)

The piece above is called "Blind Land" (and sometimes Green Mirror) by Teresita Fernandez.  It's constructed of two layers of polished, precision-cut steel and green paint.

In order to give you a better idea of how it was constructed, I took this shot from the side.  You can see that the two panels of steel are fused together about two inches apart from each other.  I believe the back side of the panels are painted green but, I couldn't see the back at all.

I liked it.  It fascinated me and I stood there studying it for quite awhile.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm back at the Recoleta Cemetery and looking at it with an artists eye.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Observing the Unusual

Every now and then we photographers see things that seem just a little unusual to us.  That was the case when this car pulled up next to me at a traffic light.  With two men in the front seat and no other passengers, it just seemed a bit unusual to see the dash of this car covered in colorful stuffed animals. I'm glad I was quick on the draw and got the shot.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day so I thought I'd post a photo of one of Mother Nature's lacy beauties.  This plant's technical name is Sambucas Mexicana but it's sometimes called Elderberry or blue elderberry. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spanish Luxury, part 2

I decided to post these photos taken from the front of the house I featured yesterday.  There was a garden area worth visiting in the front of the house as well as in the back.

In the center of the front patio was a large fountain and next to it a sitting area complete with a chiminea (Mexican fireplace).  

The front was also decorated with flowering plants and pottery and statues.  It was a very attractive place.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spanish Luxury

Today I have one more of the houses from the Phoenix Home and Garden tour that I took a week ago.  This house was built in a Spanish style with a wonderful garden and backyard dining area.  Above is one of the landscaped garden areas that ran next to the pool area.

At the end of that garden area was an outdoor fireplace with an comfy sofa facing it.

On the other side of the fireplace was a covered, outdoor dining area.  (Those cards on the table were business cards from the landscape architect.)

I was attracted to these three large pots located near the fireplace.  I think those zig-zag lines appeal to my sense of aesthetic.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Legacy of Fred Harvey

Having a grandfather who worked for the Santa Fe Railroad, I heard stories about Fred Harvey when I was a youngster.  So, when I heard about this exhibit at the Heard Museum, I decided I needed to check it out.

Fred Harvey lived the true American success story.  He immigrated to America as a teenager and took jobs in New York as a busboy, dishwasher and waiter.  He began his career with the Santa Fe Railroad in 1876, opening a restaurant in Topeka Kansas.  His business quickly grew as he opened restaurants all along the Santa Fe Railroad line.  He built a reputation for excellence in food and service.  He hired only women to serve his customers instead of waiters as was common at the time.  He ended up providing opportunities for young women that were not easily available anywhere in the United States.

The Santa Fe Railroad ran from Chicago to California crossing quite a swath of Native American territory.  This exhibit at the Heard Museum talked about the influence Fred Harvey had on Native American peoples.  Native Americans sold many of their beautiful weavings, pottery and jewelry crafts at stops along the railroad and in the Fred Harvey restaurants and gift shops.  In fact, Fred Harvey hired many Native Americans to create items to sell in his shops, making many artists famous at the time.  The presence of the railroad also impacted some the the Native American crafts.  Above are two Hopi carvings of "railroad men" and in the top photo you can see how the railroad ended up in weaving designs and baskets.

The waitresses at Fred Harvey restaurants became known fondly as "Harvey Girls".  They wore distinctive uniforms that inspired Leo Poblano of the Zuni Pueblo to create this inlaid likeness of a Harvey Girl.

It was a very informative exhibit.  I'm glad I went to see it.  It brought back many memories of stories my grandfather (and my mother) told me about his adventures "out west".

Monday, April 18, 2016

Showing Off

I spotted this beauty by the side of the road on a residential street in Paradise Valley.  What a show-off.  Displaying all those blooms at one time it managed to stop me in my tracks.  I believe this is an Argentinian Giant but, I don't believe I've ever seen one with yellow blooms before.  Simply majestic.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Upscale Living

I wonder if a feathered family has moved into this beautifully decorated bird house.  It certainly would be a step up from tree limbs or cactus thorns.  I love finding these cute little bird houses around town but I always wonder if they ever get used.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm visiting one of the most famous cemeteries in the world.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Accidental Tourist

I heard about this exhibit on the radio and I decided to check it out last weekend.  It was a juried group photography exhibit with a twist.  All of the photos submitted had to be taken in Arizona within the last two years AND they had to be taken with cell phones.  Ten local photographers were chosen and their works were represented in the show.  The photos in my shot above have all been seriously processed.

This group  was a little more natural.  It was an interesting concept and well worth seeing but, I must say, none of the photos wowed me.  In the radio interview, they talked about how cell phone cameras have evolved and how cell phones take excellent photos now.  I don't think any of the photos spoke to the quality of cell phone photos today.  

Friday, April 15, 2016

Resort-like Residence

I thought I'd show you the next house we visited last Sunday and then I'll save the last two for a later post.  This house looked very much like a southwestern resort.  It was sprawling and designed with a Spanish style.  Above is an entrance to small courtyard on one side of the home.

The pool area was large and wide.  (Sorry about that rain drop on the lens in the upper left corner.  I didn't see it when I was taking the photos.)

This area was on the opposite side of that entrance courtyard above and it leads to a guest house.

And this is another small courtyard on the opposite side of the house.  It was completely enclosed and private.  

Turning around from taking the photo above, I noticed this large window that looks right into the bathroom.  The people who live here can soak in that giant tub while viewing that lovely fountain in the photo above.  Our welcome rain added a measure of distortion but, most of the time that glass would be crystal clear.  What a life!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

More Zen Moments

I'm following up from yesterday's post with a few more photos from the first home we visited last Sunday on the Phoenix Home & Garden tour.  Phoenix Home & Garden is a local magazine that features architectural and design worthy homes.  The tour was organized to benefit the Desert Botanical Garden which I think all of you know is near and dear to my heart.

Above is one of the flower lined walkways leading to the home.

This shot looks across the sweeping lawn toward the home.

Along the way toward the house we pass another zen-like place, a beautiful little koi pond.

In a quiet little spot between the guest house and the main house was a small rose garden with two rows of roses in all shades and varieties.  I thought this one was especially beautiful.

In this last shot you will see my four friends heading out the driveway so we can move on to the next garden spot on the list.  Yes, those are umbrellas we are all holding.  Sunday gave us a beautiful day of rain showers and cooler temperatures.