Monday, December 31, 2018

Colorful Tree

How is this for a colorful tree.  It's the only one I've seen lately that actually turned red.  All the others have either turned yellow or brown.  This one is putting on quite a show.  The smaller red plants are bougainvillea.  They bloom red all year long.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Scenes from a Resort Weekend

One last post from the weekend at the Arizona Biltmore.  Above, one of the many bungalows available. 

A beautifully shaped tree somewhere on the grounds.

Above, some of the desserts available at the Sunday brunch.  That was a pretty spectacular brunch with piles of crab claws, shrimp and smoked salmon along with a number of items that could be ordered from the kitchen and then all these beautifully crafted desserts.

Last is one more shot of the large tree framed by those wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright "Sprites". It really was a great experience.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm taking a quick spin around the United Nations.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Encounter with a Hawk

While we were relaxing on the patio at the Arizona Biltmore last Saturday, a young man with a Harris Hawk came by.  He said the hawk was young and still in training but, it certainly looked like it knew what it was doing while we watched it.

He would give it the signal to fly and it would soar above the hotel and land on the roof or a window ledge and watch him for its next instruction.

When he signaled, it would take off and fly right back to its perch on his arm.  That was certainly an extra treat to see on our stay at the hotel.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Looking Festive

The inside of the Arizona Biltmore was looking every bit as festive as the outside.  There was a big tree in the center of the lobby and pretty snowflake-like lights hanging from the ceiling across the whole lobby area.

The holiday season was well represented.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Check-In Day

We checked in to the Arizona Biltmore last Friday, a day that was very overcast and a bit chilly.  You can tell from the photos I posted yesterday that the clouds didn't last long.  It was beautiful blue skies the rest of the weekend.  This view above is looking toward the main building from the building we stayed in.

This view is the opposite direction looking at the building where our room was located.  I roamed the grounds Friday afternoon and snapped a few photos....

...and then again on Saturday to snap a few more with the sun shining brightly.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Resort Weekend

I spent the weekend before Christmas at the Arizona Biltmore.  A friend won a weekend at the hotel last New Year's Eve and since she hadn't used it all year and it was due to expire, she asked if I wanted to join her.  The Arizona Biltmore is about two blocks from my house and I've been there many times for dinner or meetings or parties but I'd never stayed there before so I thought why not.

The front of the hotel was decorated with three Christmas trees that I photographed from the two points of view in these photos.  The inner courtyard was dominated by one huge tree that I pictured yesterday.  I'll have more photos from the weekend in the days to come.  It was fun to actually get to stay there.  I thought I'd feel a little odd since the hotel is so close to home but, once I had settled in, it was like being on vacation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Greetings from Phoenix Arizona

Merry Christmas.

I'm sending holiday greetings from sunny Arizona. I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Resting Up Among the Cushions

The big guy in the red suit has a very busy night ahead of him so I think he's resting up for the long haul ahead of him!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Outdoor Ornaments

I like it when I see pretty ornaments hanging in trees outside a house.  There is something very festive about about all those pretty orbs hanging in a Mesquite or a Palo Verde tree.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  Tis' the season to look at Christmas in London again.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Simple Little Tree

I stopped in to the Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale last week and  admired their very simple little holiday tree.

It might be simple but it made me smile.

Friday, December 21, 2018

More Nutcrackers

I visited an antique store last weekend because they were having a special holiday sale and look what I found.  More Nutcrackers.  This time it looks like they are being "weighed in" because they are standing on this old-time scale.

It was one of those places where you never know what you are going to find around the next corner.  There was certainly a little bit of everything on view.  I left the store empty handed but I certainly enjoyed to look around.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Piles of Ornaments

After I downloaded this photo of colorful ornaments sitting in a bin at a store, I thought to myself what can I do with this photo.  I love the colors but, other than that, what does it have going for it.

Then I played around with that kaleidoscope effect in my photo editing tool and "Voila", it's a whole new look!  I do enjoy playing with that particular effect.  It's one of my guilty pleasures.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Grand Landscape

I found this house with a rather robust landscape in Scottsdale.  That's a lot of shrubs and trees to keep trimmed.  Those frosted looking things on each side of the wall and the door are holiday decorations.  I couldn't tell from the street if they were real plants or something that was just put up as decoration.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Finally, Fall Colors

Those fall colors are finally showing up here in the desert southwest.  We have to have several weeks of chilly nights before the trees start to show their color.

It's a pretty sight when they finally do start to change and leaves start to fall.  I love spotting the colors in different parts of town.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Nutcrackers Everywhere

Yesterday I went to see The Nutcracker at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix.  It was the most beautifully staged performance I've ever seen and I've seen a lot of Nutcrackers.  Symphony Hall was full of all kinds of things to see....and buy.  There was a huge selection of festive Nutcrackers on display.

The lobby was beautifully decorated for the holidays.

There was a photo station where families could get their picture taken with a ballerina.

And there were several places where people could pose for selfies.

And some people came to the performance beautifully attired in vintage lace and feathers.

Most of all, I enjoyed an outstanding performance with spectacular scenery and stunning costumes all enhanced by a very talented cast of dancers.  It was great.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Handel's Messiah

On Friday night I went to see Handel's Messiah performed by the Phoenix Symphony and the Phoenix Symphony Chorus.  I bet I haven't seen it performed live for around 30 years!  It was a superb performance with amazing singers.  This performance took place in a church not far from where I live.  The symphony is doing several performances at different churches throughout the valley.  A church seems the perfect setting for the Messiah.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm visiting a gorgeous library.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Back Where It Belongs

The annual poinsettia tree at Biltmore Fashion Park is back where it belongs this year.  Last year they moved it to another location and put up a different tree here. It has always been in this center plaza.  I bet there were some people who were not happy with the change.  It's good to see it back in its  place of honor.

Friday, December 14, 2018


I saw this house and loved how they put a Star of David on one door and a holiday wreath on the other.  The two major December holidays are represented side-by-side at this house.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Music on the Side

Tuesday evening I joined two good friends for a casual dinner at Tarbell's Tavern.  (I featured Tarbell's Tavern here.)  We thought we would be having a quiet meal but, were surprised to find these two playing tunes.  We soon learned that they were both winemakers and they were in town to do a wine tasing at Tarbell's Wine Store next door to the restaurant.  On the left is Michael Jordon, a master Sommelier and owner of Olelo Winery and on the right is Fred Scherrer owner of Scherrer Winery.  These guys are not only good wine makers, they have some musical talent too.

After we sat down to eat we noticed a change of crew on the music front.  Chef Mark Tarbell (left) joined another musician to play a few tunes for us too.  He's not only a great chef and a great host of a local television show but, now I know he's a great musician too.

What started as a quiet dinner turned into a very fun evening.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Toy Shop

I drove out to north Scottsdale last weekend to visit one of my favorite chocolate shops, Zak's Chocolates.  The shop is located in a rather obscure little shopping center that faces inward rather than toward the busy street.  Back in the corner of the center is this store called Kidstop.  I had never visited it before but on this occasion, I decided to check it out.

It turns out that the store is much bigger than it looks from the outside and it's piled full of all kinds of toys, books, games and adorable stuffed animals.  It was a joy to just walk around and soak it all up.  I spent some time admiring this "pet" themed Christmas tree.  It was full of ornaments all dog and cat related.  Those round ornaments say either "I love my dog" or "I love my cat" while some of the others are dog and cat shaped.

The scene was further enhanced by the real dog that roamed around the store. I tried to catch a photo of him but he was too quick and quite adept at avoiding the camera.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Music in the Garden

There was music in every corner of the garden when I was there last Friday.  A mariachi group was playing just inside the entrance to greet people as they arrived.

I spent some time listening to these two fabulous guitar players.  They are The Sahnas Brothers, a duo with Greek roots who specialize in Spanish and Mediterranean fusion music.  It was foot-tapping fun.

I ended the evening with another performance by the group called Traveler.  I saw them last year around this time too.  They perform world fusion music using a variety of native instruments.  They do an outstanding version of Hava Nagila, one of my favorites.  Fortunately for the people near me, the music was loud enough that no one could hear me singing along.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Owls Come Out at Night

I was at an event at the Desert Botanical Garden last  Friday evening and at one place they had some wildlife handlers showing off a couple of beautiful birds.

The first was this wonderful owl who seemed to be enjoying all the attention.

The second was a much smaller burrowing owl.  I didn't realize when I snapped the photo that he was so shaded but, I think he looks a bit mysterious this way.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Window Peeping in Scottsdale

My friend Glenda and I went to AZ88 last Thursday so that I could get the tree photo I shared yesterday.  Old Town Scottsdale was looking so festive with decorations up that we decided to walk around a bit.  I would have missed this scene if Glenda hadn't pointed it out.  We are looking into a window of the office space of an art gallery.  The scene of that woman working at her computer with her hat on was too appealing to pass up.

It looks great in black and white too but, I think I like the colors in the top one even better.  I'm so glad that Glenda made me go back and peek in this window.  I LOVE this photo!

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  Greek art and a legal challenge.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Tree Made of Metal Strands

I made it to AZ88 to see how they had decorated for the holidays.  You might remember that last year they had a tree made of real one dollar bills....five thousand of them.

This year's tree is made up of strands of metal.  Some of the strands are safety pins.  You might be able to pick those out from the close up to the left.  Other strands were straight pieces of metal and occasionally round pieces that sort of look like key rings.

The close up shot just looks a like dense bunch of shiny objects.

  From a distance it's quite pretty.  It sparkles like a crystal chandelier.

I took the top photo around 5:00 PM before the crowds started to arrive.  The last photo I took around 7:00 PM after the place had filled up.  I thought that couple at the table next to the tree framed the tree perfectly.