Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween

Yesterday I mentioned that the Desert Botanical Garden had a rather whimsical display of pumpkins called Pumpkin Alley.  Since today is Halloween, I'll show you the pumpkins who've donned their Halloween costumes.  These three witches are tending their bubbling cauldron. (Anyone else thinking "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble"?)

While this pumpkin has jumped on her broom and taken off in search of children to scare.

I have to say that this was one very clever holiday display!  Bravo to the planners!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pumpkin Alley

I went for a walk at the Desert Botanical Garden yesterday morning and I found something new to photograph.  The garden had a family event this last weekend called Strange Garden and they created one path that was called Pumpkin Alley.  These two orange fellows were pointing the way.

This bell-shaped archer was attempting a trick made famous by William Tell.  The fellow with the apple was saying his prayers.

This poor gourd has stumbled into a "jumping cactus" and he has those little balls of thorns attached to his back side.  It looks like his friend is pretty freaked out by the sight of his friend's dilemma.

This group of rotund squashes were having a fun time in this big tree.

This group has set up camp and are roasting marshmallows over the campfire.  

What fun arrangements.  I'll have a few more tomorrow.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dinner Guests

My friends Julie and Dave hosted one of our cooking and eating dinner parties Friday night.  There were six of us and we all helped with the preparations and then sat down to an excellent meal.  Julie has a big kitchen so there is room for all six of use to chop, mix and cook.  Julie had her Halloween decorations out and I especially liked these three characters who were watching us while we prepared the food.  Their heads "bobble" a bit so they could nod their approval.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  Travel can offer up some wonderful surprises!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Pumpkin Season

It's definitely pumpkin season right now.  I'm seeing piles of them everywhere I go.  

Some of these will be turned into jack-o-lanterns and find themselves glowing in front of houses on Halloween night.  For the adventurous cooks, some of these will end up being pumpkin pies and other pumpkin treats.  I bet there will even be some who go to the trouble to dry the seeds for snacking sometime in the future.  With all those possibilities in mind, I'm betting most of these will end up big smiles or scary grins.   

Friday, October 27, 2017

More Halloween Decorations

Here are a few more Halloween decorations I've spotted in my ramblings around town.

This scary fellow was floating above the lawn of a nearby home.

This set of jolly looking pumpkins were gracing the front steps of a house around the corner from the scary guy pictured above.

This snowman shaped pumpkin lantern was sporting a witches hat and  not one but three big grins.

And this worn out skeleton was for sale in the Desert Botanical Garden gift shop.  He looks like he's given up on the whole holiday thing.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Butterflies of a Different Color

This year, instead of having only monarch butterflies in the butterfly pavilion for the fall exhibit, the Desert Botanical Garden has shared the pavilion with a few other colorful butterflies.  The one above is called a White Peacock.

This one is called a Common Buckeye.  I think he's too pretty to have that 'common' moniker attached to his name.

I also spotted this Gulf Fritillary flitting about in the enclosure.  

And, this Pipevine Swallowtail was also showing off his colors.  Mixed in with the monarch butterflies, these beauties made a colorful assortment to admire.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Those Royal Monarchs

The monarch butterfly pavilion is now open at the Desert Botanical Garden so I made a visit over the weekend to see how they were doing.

It was a toasty warm day so they were happily flying to and fro within the pavilion.  They seemed to be enjoying the plants and flowers around them.

For the first time, they were sharing the pavilion with some other butterflies.  I'll show you a couple of their 'house-mates' tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Gang in the Old Neighborhood

I took a drive over to my old neighborhood over the weekend to see if my former neighbor had his family of skeletons out for the Halloween season.  As you can see he did!  The gang was all there.

Even the family dog (or is that a cat) was present and accounted for.

I went back after dark to see how they looked at night but, I thought they were a little dim to the naked eye this year.  However a long exposure has them lit up pretty well.

I'm glad I stopped back.  Those stragglers hanging out on the cars in the driveway weren't there in the afternoon.  Maybe they just stopped by for a visit.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Blue Man

This mural has a parking area next to it that makes it easy to see from the street.  It's a blue man playing darts on the side of a beer can.  It's on the side of a pub called H.B. Hanratty's.  I have a hard time hitting a standard dart target, hitting a target on the side of a beer can takes a special talent.  Possibly only a talent available to "blue" people.  The artist for this mural is Isaac Caruso.  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Before and After

Last month I told you about my Art Club's meeting when we all got a lesson on pottery glazing.  Above is a photo similar to the one I posted of my three pieces and how they looked before they were fired.  Friday night at our meeting we got the finished products.

I love all three pieces.  They are each so different and each one looks completely different than they did before the firing.  In fact, it's like magic how much they changed.  That bowl that looks so pale in the top photo is a stunning royal blue.  That plate looked like one solid color but it turned out with a bit of a pattern on it that I like.  But, my favorite is the vase.  The two colors couldn't be more different than they looked before and I love all the patterns in the glaze.  I would jump at a chance to do this again.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm visiting an Arizona winery.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Unique Conversation Areas

The lobby of the Renaissance Hotel is very long making room for several seating areas where guests can relax.  Each one of these areas was carefully designed based on the "Rooted Rising" theme and the hotel's overall history.  This area features a huge art piece called "Here Comes the Sun" with the images taken from vintage post cards that would have been for sale back in the early 20th century when the hotel was new.

This area is dominated by a painting called "The Relaxed Roadrunner" by artist Steve Hickok.  He's enjoying his desert environment.

This painting is also by Steve Hickok and it's called "Wink".  I love how they incorporated that black and white theme into this little seating area.

The artist Steve Hickok has actual roots that trace back to Arizona.  He is a direct descendant of Wild Bill Hickok who was a great uncle.  Steve was born in Phoenix and visions of the desert and Native American art forms have helped to shape his artistic style.

I snapped this last shot when the elevator doors opened and I was greeted by this whimsical photo panel on the back of the elevator wall.  One of these days, I'll go back to the hotel and check out the other elevators and see what artistic influences can be found in them.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Artistic Touches

I'm following up from yesterday's post with two more of the artistic pieces from the recent remodel of the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix.  This steel and iron sculpture is behind the front desk and represents the downtown skyline of Phoenix.  I was able to pick out a couple of the buildings, especially that giant sun burst that sits atop the city hall building.  They didn't know the artist for this piece because it's one that has been with the hotel for a very long time.  They've just moved it to amore prominent position.  The wall behind it is composed of resin lizard tiles.  There was another wall in the lobby that also had the same tiles.

The bright blue glass sculptures are secured to a wall on a landing that leads to the lower-level and the conference rooms for the hotel.

This one represents the precious water that is vital to being able to live in a desert environment.

I'll have more scenes from inside the hotel tomorrow.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"Rooted Rising"

When I was downtown two weeks ago to check out the new Hilton Hotel in the old Professional Building, I also stepped in to The Renaissance Hotel to have a look at their remodel job.  You might remember that I posted the front of this hotel back in June after I spotted their new paint job.

I was treated to a tour of the hotel lobby and given all kinds of details about the work that was done by a very friendly concierge by the name of Irma Rosario.  And, I took a lot of photos to share.

Rooted Rising is the theme for the entire remodel work and it refers to the many times this hotel has risen from the ashes.  In 1910 it burned to the ground, in the 70's it was imploded, and now it's been totally remodeled. Three "rises" and counting.

I'm going to start with my favorite piece in the lobby, this gorgeous glass sculpture called Growing Vases.  It was created by a company called Lasvit and made especially for the hotel.  It's lit like a chandelier from above.

The structure below the sculpture is a faceted table in five segments designed to represent the Grand Canyon.

It sits near the entrance to the hotel where taxis and shuttles pull up to drop off guests.  I was so taken with this sculpture that I almost wanted to tell all those guests passing by it on their way to the front desk to stop for a minute and admire it.

More from this beautiful remodel tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Funny Place for a Nap

I spotted this squirrel high up on a dead branch at the Desert Botanical Garden last Sunday and I watched him for a long time and he didn't move a muscle.

In fact, I thought it was an optical illusion until I used my zoom to zero in on him and see that it was indeed a squirrel sitting very high up and looking like he was taking a nap.

Finally he opened his eyes but he still didn't move.  So, I snapped a couple of shots and continued on with my walk.

When I returned to the same spot I saw that he had changed positions but he was still up there in that same spot.  At least I knew he was mobile so I could stop worrying about him.  He must have been up there for a reason.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Look at What Has Invaded the Garden

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you probably realize that the Desert Botanical Garden always has an interesting art exhibit that adds a splash of color to the the garden trails.  We've seen a variety of artists represented most notably two different Chihuly exhibits.  This year the prize goes to Jun Kaneko, the Japanese-American artist who creates such colorful and fanciful sculptures.

A favorite of his sculptures are the wonderfully colorful "Tanuki" or raccoon/dogs.  The garden has a whole ring of these whimsical creatures.

In addition, there are quite a few "Heads" which Kaneko is also famous for creating.  There are also many more colorful creations of various shapes and sizes.  Since the exhibit stays up well into spring of next year, I'm sure I'll be showing you more of these fantastic pieces over the months ahead.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Listening to the Rain

I found a new art piece at the Phoenix Art Museum two weeks ago that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I'm going to try to convey this to you even though it's one of those things you really have to experience.  You enter a darkened room and you hear the pitter-patter of rain drops and as you are hearing it you see a small scattering of white lines appearing on the walls.  As the rain gets harder, more lines appear and then there is a little thunder and the lines flash a little. Finally the rains slow and the lines start to thin out.  It had a sort of calming effect.  I walked out of the room and read the description sign and learned that the recording of the rain was not rain at all.  It was a large choral group snapping their fingers for the light rain, clapping their hands or slapping their legs for the harder rain and stomping their feet on boards for the thunder.  I went back in the room to listen again and sure enough, I could hear all those things.

When I found out that the artist who created this piece was going to talk about her work, I decided I wanted to hear her so, last Wednesday evening I went to hear Magdalena Fernandez from Venezuela speak about her works.  That's Ms. Fernandez seated to the left and next to her is one of the curators of Latin American art who helped with translations.  I also captured Amanda Cruz the museums Director and CEO standing to the far left.

All of her works are large scale and very tactile.  She said she enjoys things that can be touched or experienced in some way.  This particular work has an unusual name, "2iPM009".  She has had exhibits in museums all over the world.  I'm glad I got to hear her speak about her work.  This particular piece will be at the Phoenix Art Museum until December 31st of this year.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


It's Greek Festival time in Phoenix so Friday night I joined my friend David and his sister and brother and a few other friends at the Greekfest sponsored by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.  David's family has solid Greek roots so they know all the tasty treats (and how to spell them)!

These handsome fellows were in charge of preparing the Saganaki (flaming Greek cheese).  Very tasty!  We also had Souvlaki topped with Tzatziki and the honey drizzled Loukoumades for dessert.  It was all delicious!  In addition to all kinds of traditional foods, there were crafts and art works to admire and Greek dancing to enjoy.  It was lots of fun.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm visiting a town in the very center of Arizona that is home to some great Arizona wines.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Civil Dialogue & American Politics

I attended a fascinating lecture last Thursday evening at the Arizona State University Tempe campus sponsored by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.  The guest speakers were former Senators Tom Daschle (D) of South Dakota and Jon Kyle (R) of Arizona, two well respected former political leaders from opposing sides of the aisle who actually get along and worked together when they were in office.  Imagine that!

Much of the discussion was about what has changed in American politics and why and what if anything we can do about it.  The "what to do about it" part is by far the biggest challenge but these two men were hopeful that through education and citizen activism some things might be accomplished .

When asked what they thought were the things that have lead to this current total disfunction, they had several thoughts.  First Mr Daschle said the he thought some Senate and House rules need to be changed requiring members to be present Monday through Friday.  He said that so many representatives fly home on Fridays and return Monday evening or even Tuesday leaving only two days to get any work done.  Another problem of course is media and social media.  They talked about how there are so many pundits out there who spend all of their time stirring the up controversies just to improve their ratings.  They also mentioned how much it costs to run a campaign and how legislators have to spend 80% of their time raising money.  There was so much more discussed and all of it worth delving into deeper.

One thing that stood out in my mind is the statement that we live in a world where we are bombarded by information from every direction and there is no expectation that any of it is the truth.  They said that if telling the truth is not an obligation, than that leaves all of us to try to figure out what is true and what isn't.  That's a pretty heavy burden for all of us but one that is simply imperative.

They were both hopeful that more events like this, more classes on civil dialogue and even more citizens getting together to have these types of discussions could help.  Me too!

Friday, October 13, 2017


I went to a preseason basketball game last Monday evening with my friend Janet who is a huge fan of the hometown team the Phoenix Suns.  She's such a fan that she's had season tickets 47 years.  One of the great players from the past, Connie Hawkins passed away a few days before so the Sun's did a very nice memorial to him before the game started.  I did get to see him play back in the 70's and he was one of the most skilled players I've ever seen.  He had been doing public relations work for the Phoenix Suns so we would see him at the games from time to time.  He'll be missed.

It's a good thing this was a preseason game because it was  pretty bad for the home team.  I think we were down around 40 points when we left.  The game was so bad, this guy decided to read the paper rather than watch the mayhem way below him.

Hopefully, the real season will get off to a better start.