Phoenix Zoo January 2012 Monday, Jan 30 2012 

Galapagos Tortoise

Galapagos Tortoise

The Phoenix Zoo was a popular site for visitors on the last Sunday in January.  We waited briefly for a parking spot before exploring familiar pathways in the zoo.  The crowd clustered in the popular new orangutan exhibit which made it difficult for me to wend my way next to a window for a closer view of these unique creatures.  And, the windows were covered with handprints and otherwise marred for picture taking.  So we headed toward the pen for the Galapagos tortoises where we were surprised to hear the hoarse bellows and grunts of the male who was mounted on the female.  After mating, the male approached us stretching his neck from side to side.  In the neiboring pen the female Aldabra tortoise munched on grasses.  Nearby, a rhinoceros iguana sunned himself on a stump.  A male hamadryas baboon systematically checked for bugs on his mate while another curious baboon came to a window for a closer look at visitors.  A colorful male mandrill meditated on the warm 70 degree temperatures.  Finally, a fennac fox napped close to a window where we got a close look at his large ears.  January is a pleasant time to visit the Phoenix Zoo.

Advertisements

Bolo Ties & Sculpture at the Heard Museum Sunday, Jan 29 2012 

The Heard Museum is deservedly well known for its outstanding collections of American Indian artworks.  We visited yesterday afternoon after lunch at the Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar, which offers an eclectic menu and inexpensive one liter carafes of specialty drinks.  One of the special exhibits at the Heard that interested me was “Native American Bolo Ties: Vintage and Contemporary Artistry.”  I learned that the bolo tie is Arizona’s official state neckware.  According to one of the signs in the exhibit, “Bolo ties, representing the casual and rugged look of the West, emerged as a form of men’s neckware in the 1940s.  Bolo ties directly countered the business-suit formality of the East, marking a different style and a different way of life.  Native American jewelers and silversmiths in particular brought individuality and creativity to the art form, offering a broad range of unique and artistic options.”

Harvest

Harvest

The Nichols Sculpture Garden featured several pieces of work, “Attitudes of Prayer,”  by Retha Walden Gambaro.  In 1917 she was born in Oklahoma to a Creek mother and father of British descent.  She grew up in Phoenix until the 1940s when she moved to California.  It was there that she married Stephen Gambaro.  She didn’t start sculpting until she was 52.  Now she is recognized as a master carver of stone who also works with bronze and wood.  She was instrumental in the creation of the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution.  This is likely her first exhibit in the West and in the city of her childhood home.  Her piece titled “Exultation II” (1997) is “Sharing the joy of fulfillment with genuine gratitude.”  “Harvest” (1997) recognizes “This great bounty provided by mother earth existed solely on this continent until approximately 1492.”  “Preparing the Pipe” (1997) is “Getting ready for the pipe ceremony.”  Although my attempt at a photograph of “Gratitude” (1996) was unsuccessful, the sentiment expressed is appropriate to close this entry: “Every day, we have reason, or many reasons, to feel and express our gratitude.”  The Heard Museum always offers an interesting learning experience.

Graduation Ceremony in San Diego Monday, Jan 23 2012 

Marine Corps Seal

Marine Corps Seal

This past Friday we attended grandson Josh’s Basic Marine Graduation Ceremony which was held at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.  Although we missed Thursday’s Family Day, we arrived early enough on Friday to observe the 8 a.m. Color Ceremony that featured the Marine Corp Band and remarks by Brigadier General D. D. Yoo, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot.  Our early arrival allowed us to find good seats in the bleachers facing the Parade Deck where the main event started at 10 a.m.   Six platoons of the India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion participated in this graduation ceremony.  Josh was a squadron leader in Platoon 3206 where he was promoted to Private First Class based on his high degree of proficiency and exceptional leadership.  His intense 12 weeks of training transformed him from a civilian to a Marine.  We were proud to be a part of the dozen or so of his supporters.  After the ceremony we toured the Command Museum which documents the contributions of U. S. Marines throughout U. S. history.  As a librarian, I would have liked to see more documentation in the display signage.  After three months of intense training, Josh craved a visit to McDonald’s.  After a driving tour of downtown San Diego, we finally found a McDonald’s.  It was moving to observe customers, including some who looked to be homeless, thanking Josh, still dressed in uniform, for his service to the country.

Maritime Museum of San Diego

Maritime Museum of San Diego

We stayed in the Residence Inn by Mariott on the Pacific Highway, just a block from San Diego Bay, which serves a great hot breakfast. Thursday night we walked a few blocks to Little Italy and selected Mona Lisa’s for dinner; it features several veal dishes, including veal scallopini.  Friday night we dined at Anthony’s Fish Grotto with a panoramic view of the harbor. On Saturday we visited the Maritime Museum of San Diego.  The USS Dolphin, a research submarine that launched in 1968, holds the depth record for operating submarines.  It was hard to believe that the B-39 Soviet Attack Submarine, a diesel-electric powered submarine, was commissioned in 1974 because it seemed even older.  Where did they keep 22 torpedoes? and how did they move about through the four portholes dividing the ship?  The HMS Surprise is a replica of a Royal Navy frigate that was used for the film “Master and Commander.”  The Medea, a 1904 steam yacht, exemplified the sailing by the elite with its polished teak and fancy furnishings.  The Berkeley, built in 1898 to carry passengers across San Francisco Bay, is now filled with interesting displays on San Diego’s Navy and commercial fishing industry.  Finally, the Star of India, originally launched in 1863, is the oldest merchant ship still regularly sailing.  The Museum is currently displaying a special exhibit, “Cook, Melville, Gauguin: Three Voyages to Paradise.”  Original paintings by William Hodges and John Weber, the official expedition artists for the 2nd and 3rd Voyages of Discovery commanded by James Cook, were quite interesting.  Herman Melville, of course, is famous for his novel Moby Dick.  The Gauguin collection includes representative watercolors, woodblock prints, engravings, and sculpture.  From there we walked toward the Gaslamp Quarter and then back to the harbor and Seaport Village where we enjoyed fish and chips for lunch at San Diego Pier Cafe. When it was raining earlier in the day we drove to the House of Scuba where I selected a dry snorkel and mask for an upcoming trip.

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

On Sunday we attended the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Old Town.  Father Junipero Serra celebrated his first holy mass in California on July 2, 1769, near the site of the present church.  The cornerstone to the present church was laid in 1868.  When we participated in the Marine bootcamp graduation ceremony we learned that Marines arrived in San Diego during the Mexican-American War (1846-48) .  They seized the town and raised the American flag for the first time in California near what is now known as Old Town Plaza.  Old Town combines historic sites that are now part of the California State Park system along with specialty shops and restaurants. The Estudillo House, La Casa de Estudillo, was a social and political center of San Diego during California’s Mexican period from 1821-46.  Capitan Jose Maria Estudillo, a retired San Diego Presidio commandante (fort commander) in 1827.  Seeley Stables exhibits restored vehicles, including a green striped Studebaker wagon.  We chose Fiesta de Reyes for an outdoor lunch and were not disappointed.  Succulent vegetation, fountains, and sculpture create an open, pleasant area.  A stage featured brightly costumed dancers.  One of the shops on our return walk to our car featured an amazing array of wind chimes, one with deep set of tones should add to the deck experience in Prescott.  We have more of Old Town to explore on a future visit, including Presidio Park.  Our San Diego visit concluded with a first class upgrade on our return to Phoenix.  Another great long weekend in San Diego.

Zuill Bailey Plays Dvořák Sunday, Jan 15 2012 

Zuill Bailey, professor of cello at the University of El Paso, brought his 1693 Matteo Gofriller Cello for a Phoenix Symphony Orchestra concert.  Antonin Dvořák’s Concerto in B minor, Opus 104 opens with an evocative clarinet theme that finds the cello harmonizing with sighing emotion.  In the second movement the cello echoes themes initiated by the woodwinds.  Near the end of the third movement there is a duet between the cellist and first violin, Steven Moeckel.  Our prime seats in the sixth row centered on the cello which allowed us to engage in the heartfelt emotion of the soloist while closely observing his technical mastery.

The Saturday evening concert started with three of the six tone poems that make up Bedřich Smetana’s My Fatherland (Má Vlast).  Vysehrad musically paints a picture of a Czech castle.  Vltava, more commonly known as The Moldau, evokes the course of a river from its source through the Bohemian plain and the city of Prague until emptying into the Elbe.  Sárka follows the revenge of an Amazon jilted in love.  It is hard to believe this work was completed while the composer was deaf.

Home & Garden Show Saturday, Jan 14 2012 

Home & Garden Show

Home & Garden Show

The 20th Annual Maricopa County Home and Garden Show, held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, is a first for me and was filled with surprises.  The range of displays was much wider than anticipated.  The outdoor fountains and gas flame fire pits were interesting and expected, as were booths for outside house painters.  A display for a retractable screen door might also be a nice addition and we could use a carpet cleaning service. More unexpected was the beautiful work of a California artist who specializes in fine art wall hangings.  A Chandler travel agent offered some intriguing special deals.  The most unexpected booths were those of financial planners.  We purchased some Mean Green lens cleaner after an effective demonstration, and a lowering of price.  The Arizona Republic offered a special rate along with two free tee shirts.  My first Home & Garden Show will probably not be my last.

East Loop & Beverly Canyon Monday, Jan 9 2012 

Phoenix CityscapePhoenix Cityscape

Phoenix Cityscape

Sunday morning we hiked South Mountain’s East Loop Trail, crossed over to a Summit with nice views of the cityscape, and returned to our parking spot off 48th Street via the Beverly Canyon Trail.  South Mountain has extensive hiking trails that are conveniently located near our home.  Phoenix is a great place to be in January.

Next Page »