Monday, January 11, 2010

On Leaving "Wrinkle City"

Too soon after Christmas it was time to leave our Tucson abode. When Lesley was here and she and her Mom went to the Stitch 'n' Chatter group, the topic of "local names" for the community came up. The first name mentioned referred to the style of construction of the homes – Tin Can City! The second name referred to the age of the residents – we were told that the average age was 72, so the community was called "Wrinkle City!" The third name also related to the age of the residents, but it was slightly more morbid – "God's Waiting Room!"

Christmas in Tucson

Christmas at the temporary Pfeifer home in Tucson was celebrated pretty much as usual – the little guy was excited about everything and the adults enjoyed little pleasures here and there. Here's Leo with the mandatory Xmas tree which he decorated; then here's Leo with one of his presents – goggles for snowboarding which he'll take up when he gets back to Seattle; and finally here's Grandma with one of her presents – a necklace of Heishi beads with Tiger eye chips featuring a horse fetish of what's called "white turquoise."

The Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro cactus is truly the grand symbol of the Sonoran Desert, standing tall and majestic, living hundreds of years. The "standard model" of the Saguaro is the single stem with exactly two arms, yet few of them look like that – 99% either have fewer than two or more than two.

Yet in all of the Saguaros that I've seen, this one with nine arms stands out as a truly rare one – seldom is there a Saguaro with that many arms.

On the other hand, the truly rare Saguaro is the crested Saguaro, of which we saw two at the Museum.

A similar, but somewhat larger cactus, is the Cardon Cactus, found in Northern Mexico, both in Sonora and in Baja. It is said to be the largest cactus species in the world.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum -- Part 2

Here's two more shots of the Harris hawk and its trainer – it's truly remarkable what they can do.

In the auditorium, they had several animals who had been trained to run across the stage, then go to pick up their treats, eat them and then run off. Here's a ring-tail fox and a porcupine performing for the audience – no restraints other than their training.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum -- Part 1

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is devoted to the flora and fauna of the Atizona-Sonora Desert, and their standard program/exhibit is a static display of one or the other. But they are starting some new programs which involve training some of the "wild" creatures of the desert to do audience-attracting "stunts," such as hawks flying around the area and "buzzing" the audience, etc.

On this trip, we saw some of these new programs, as well as some of the old. This first picture is a golden oldie, a picture of one of the citizens of the Hummingbird Cage – a fenced "room" where you enter and the birds are flying free, usually so quickly that you cannot get a picture. But Clara was determined and here's what she got.

The second is of a screech owl, who has been trained to screech, then fly around, then return to his trainer.

Later, Clara and Leo went to a Raptor program in which a Harris hawk is on display, flying off and around and returning to his trainer. These latter two are new programs at the museum, and are highly entertaining to the visitors at the museum.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lesley and Leo Join Us In Tucson

Lesley and Leo came to spend a week with us, arriving late afternoon on the 17th. For Lesley, this was a return to the area where she lived from age 8 to age 17; for Leo, it was a first look at the Sonoran Desert – he, of course, had seen the Mojave Desert around Las Vegas, but that is dramatically different from the Sonoran.

We did pretty much the predictable things with them – breakfast at Coyote Pause, dinner at Los Nopales and also at The House of Cheng (both right in the Tucson Estates community and very good), a day at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (more on that later), half a day visit to Old Tucson (the John Wayne era movie set, now a tourist trap), a day trip to Tubac and Tumacacori with a stop in Green Valley, swimming in the community pool for Leo, observing the hummingbirds at our patio feeder, an afternoon at Stitch 'n' Chatter for Lesley and Clara, time spent examining the many and varied cacti in the adjoining desert areas or in the landscaping of homes in the community.

A good time was had by all – well, almost
all . . . Clara was hung up with a nasty cold part of the time . . .

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lighting the Luminarias in Tubac

Tubac, AZ is an artist colony 40 or so miles south of Tucson, and on Friday evening they had a shindig -- the traditional lighting of the luminarias. [For the uninitiated, a luminaria nowadays is a small lantern, usually created from a paper sack, some sand and a candle. In olden days, a luminaria was a bonfire used to light up the common area for a Christmas season
celebration, and a farolito was a small lantern -- but the terminology has been abused and misused for so many years that it has now become institutionalized.]

There were two things to see at Friday's celebration -- some of the art works of the residents of Tubac, and some of the decorative lighting of the area. The pictures below show some of each.
The one unusual find of the evening is the work done on the table and the bowls -- the natural cracks in the wood were lightly routed, then filled with a paste of ground turquoise and glue, then sanded off to a smooth surface and sealed.