Tags: arizona, AZ, R&R, recharge, travel, vacation
It was supposed to be a week in Mexico, but airfare from Anchorage was prohibitively expensive. So, Michele traded it for a week in Scottsdale, Arizona. I had never been to AZ at all, so it was a new experience.
The first place we went was Jerome. We headed north on Route 17, got stuck in standstill traffic a couple hours… finally got moving again. Turning west on Route 69, through more desert [and Prescott] and then climbed up through the trees to the mighty Mingus Mountain! Something like 200 turns in 12 miles. Here is Michele negotiating a blind curve in our rented VW Beetle.
Jerome is a funky little town that was a 19th century mining town, then later was nearly abandoned. Today it’s a mix of full time residents and accommodations for tourists [B&Bs, wine bars, shops and galleries]. Steep switchback streets and buildings clinging to steep rock cliffs. Totally charming.
We went back on our last day. Next trip, maybe we’ll just stay here [Scottsdale was nice, but it's a little rich for my blood].
A rock formation near Sedona.
One of the newer museums in the area is the MIM [Musical Instrument Museum] in Scottsdale. We were overwhelmed by it. Lots to see — too much, really. Built by the former CEO of Target, it is a first class facility. It’s organized by continents, and runs through a musical history of the world with displays and accompanying video clips. Here is a Hammond B-3 organ. You’ve heard this in a lot of popular songs, even if [like me] you didn’t know what it looks like.
Custom turntable and mixer from the Hip-Hop section of the MIM.
The beginning of a 90 minute tour of Taliesin West. This was my trip highlight. It was all I’d imagined and more. I really appreciated the perspective our tour guide gave to Frank Lloyd Wright’s life, work and character. All the anecdotes and stories — priceless! He was, and continues to be an outsider — designing against the current and the European tradition.
Most of Wright’s art collection isn’t on site anymore, but there is this dragon. I almost wanted to come back for the evening tour so I could see it spit flame! It was funny to think of the old man and some Hollywood actors hunkered down watching movies in one of the theaters there in the 1940s.
We went to the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix. An amazing place. Loved how they have integrated modern galleries without changing the classic exterior. There was a whole world of native artifacts and some contemporary exhibits too. This shot is from an installation about Indian boarding schools, in all their ghastly horror!
The development pattern in the greater Phoenix west valley is kind of shocking — a low scale pattern of strip retail, large lot residential and high speed arterials spreads out for miles and is still under construction. But I noticed that in 50 to 75 ft deep buffer zones along the arterial roads there is still a functioning desert environment with all kinds of plant and animal life.
Michele at the Desert Botanical Garden. I like this photo for the atmosphere, even if it isn’t the greatest portrait and has a blown highlight.
There’s nothing like getting out of Alaska once in awhile! I always stop and marvel at large trees, because in Southcentral we really don’t have any.
Another highlight was Cosanti, the home of architect Paolo Soleri and the place where wind chime bells and other handcrafted art pieces are produced. This was really worth seeing! Next trip, I will go to Arcosanti!
My old co-worker, friend and real estate guru Peggy tipped me off about Cosanti. I had a nice lunch with her and caught up. And she gave us some great tips on restaurants. We had a grilled artichoke and I had a ‘Macho Salad’ at Bandera in Old Town Scottsdale. Man, was that good! Wow.
So long, AZ! I had a great time and will be back!
Tags: alaska, dream, random, what does it mean?
I became concerned when I got close. Something had gone wrong at our cute little split level while I was away for a few months. Maintenance was out the window. The yard was littered with junk cars. Windows were broken, doors displaced and hanging loosely, trash everywhere. Water trickled from a hole in the wall. Inside the place looked like it had been ransacked. Unattended children and others were milling about.
I found a woman who seemed to be my stepmother. She looked ashamed and began to explain. I said, ‘Wait! Hold that thought! I just need to go up to my room for a few minutes.’ In my 11×11 room in the back corner of the upper floor I found my friend Bruce sitting on a little cot in the corner. There was also a hastily and badly built large bed that filled up most of the rest of the room, with three sleeping positions in a row with light blue wool blankets with dirty white pillows. Boarders from Russia, to judge from the style of the blankets and the few personal items.
‘Bruce, I have to have my room back immediately. Isn’t there someplace else you and these guys can go?’
We walk downstairs to the basement. Only it isn’t the same basement. It is as big as a football field with a 24 foot high ceiling. On the far end there are some big gates and it appears to be open to a light filled valley beyond. There is nobody around but there is some earth moving equipment parked there, and some walls have been framed. We walk to a spot on the far wall. ’The Russians could move down here,’ I suggest. ’They could each have a suite as big as a house, instead of sharing my small room.’ Bruce looked at me with a frown, as if to say that isn’t going to happen and I can’t tell you why.
Such a strange atmosphere. It’s like the owners have become tenants. The house is part of a huge project, but the profits are going to an absentee slumlord who is letting the property become a rundown health hazard!
Awake and thinking about it for awhile, I decided the whole dream was a metaphor of Alaska.
Tags: daily photo, early spring, easter, homer
Tags: anchorage, john woodward, obituary, tribute
I didn’t know John Woodward before the accident. Sometime in the 1980s he was thrown from a car in a crash and suffered brain damage. After that he was prone to seizures, had to take lots of prescription medications and occasionally experienced blackouts. Nevertheless, he impressed friends and family by putting his life back together, and advocated for other disabled people to be able to live independently.
I met him for the first time in 1989. I would rather hang around with him than a lot of other people I knew. Communication wasn’t always the most linear, but I found him genuine in a way I find few of my other friends — he lacked a tendency to back stab or toward actions justified by moral relativism. He was enthusiastic. He always asked about my two sons and wanted to hear all about them, as bad as the news sometimes was. He would tell me to support them as much as I could and to be a good role model.
He was on the way back to his sister’s house from a grocery store a few days ago when he experienced a seizure, and then cardiac arrest.
Rock on, John! Wherever you may be now.
Tags: BlackBerry, cell phones, farce, iphone, marketing, weird dreams
Until late 2010 I had never owned a cell phone. In Summer 2010, I was about to head down to Homer. I’d been on a couple fun dates with Michele in Anchorage a few days before. Now she was inviting me to her place for the weekend where I supposed we would find out if we really liked each other. Standing in the kitchen talking to her on my red 1980s wall phone. ”Will you call me when you’re getting close, so I will know when to expect you?” ”Umm, well — I could try…” Then, wishing to sound more affirmative: “Yes. Yes, I will call.” I pictured myself borrowing somebody’s phone at a scenic overlook.
As I suspected, there is just one single pay phone between Anchorage and Homer, at a small grocery and liquor store in Anchor Point. There was one at the Soldotna Fred Meyer but it didn’t work. A coin jammed in the slot and no dial tone. I guess no one cared that it was broken. At the Safeway there I could see the place the phones used to be — a couple of wires sticking out the end of conduit pipes at the top of two rectangles of darker paint. I could barely hear Michele [my hearing isn't what it used to be]. She said, “I’m glad to hear from you! I almost didn’t answer because I didn’t think it was you!” There was a volume button in the middle of the receiver but her voice got no louder after pushing it a few times in both directions.
These days, I send her text messages to tell her I’ve left South Anchorage; made it to Wildman’s Store in Cooper Landing; in Soldotna getting some gas, need anything from the store?… In Anchor Pt. and ETA arrive Homer. I have become a convert of the convenience. And my photography with real cameras has fallen to nothing while experimentation with various iphone photo apps has gone through the roof (at the same time, the iphone has become the most popular camera on Flickr).
Talking to the AT&T rep yesterday about upgrading from an iphone 3GS to a 4S. (AT&T is the only logical choice in the 907.) He sounded like he was reading through a script prepared as late as the Eisenhower era. Ernestine could have done this justice. ”I would like to thank you for your patience and participation, Mr. Clark. We have just another minute to finalize this order,” he said in a manner and accent that made me think of Herb Tarlek, or a used car salesman from the same era.
Dreaming tonight. There was a female confidant who took me aside and starting asking personal questions in a way that made me want to tell her more. What kind of phone do I have? ”It is an iphone and I just renewed its contract.” ”Oh nooo! We really need to get you a BlackBerry! You will soon realize why it is so.” I was skeptical.
Then I had to go to a meeting, only instead of our bland little conference room with the white walls and flat screen we are sitting at cafe tables and tall stools in a grand gallery atrium of a big city museum. There is a male receptionist bantering loudly with a series of calls and visitors. And instead of my usual co-workers there are some of my most admired Alaska artists, and we are all casually sketching and plein air painting at the foot of a giant sculpture, a segmented curve that looks like a Schoppert interpretation of a calving glacier.
We soon adjourned to a smaller, more intimate gathering. A multicourse meal seated around an Aalto vase-shaped glass table. My confidant presented my new phone. It is a brown and tan replica of an early 1960s Swingline stapler, at about 2/3 scale. The one that’s between eras, with the top looking like the late ’60s/’70s and the base like the ’40s/’50s gray ones. (This must have been inspired by seeing my co-worker’s new tape dispenser that looks like a 30 ft tape measure, as I was leaving the office yesterday.) The stapler makes a soothing chime-y buzz and I answer it by taking off the top part, holding it by the handle and speaking into the slot where the staples would be.
This time the AT&T guy is so disarmingly charming that we are quickly fast friends. Someone comes by to ask if I have enough ice for my drink. The people around the table are laughing, telling jokes and stories and carrying on with exaggerated gestures. The AT&T man’s inquiries are so discreet I forget I am even talking about a cell phone contract. He is the Great Gatsby and I am one of his weekend guests. I hear a man near me say to the person next to him, the people who fall for this pitch tend to be super successful in life. Most don’t have the patience or imagination. (Neither can they convincingly whip a stapler out of their pocket and hold it up to their ear, eh?)
Tags: anchorage, apple tree, gardening, salvage, wind storm
The apple tree in my back yard blew over after a big wind storm with 50-75 mph sustained gusts. The trunk snapped most of the way through at the ground. There was quite a few trees down across the city, and some other damage. The power was off for a week at some locations. I first thought the tree was a total loss, but looking closer and thinking it over, I wondered if there was a chance it could be saved?
Soon, thanks to the miracle of modern social networking I was talking to arborists, landscape architects, park planners and others about how to go about tipping it back up and encouraging it to re-root itself. The funniest comment was from my old architect buddy who now lives in Hawaii — he said, they fall down sometimes just like we do and they can get back up and keep on living!
The first frost arrived less than a month later. In mid-October there was another wind storm, not as bad as the first one. The tree, now tied up with seven wires and anchored with rope to wood stakes whipped around in the wind but came to rest back in its proper vertical orientation for the first time since it blew over. I did a little bit of pruning as well.
We’ll see what happens in the Spring — if it comes back to life and to what extent. Still hoping for the best.
Tags: alaska, beautification award, daily photo, homer, ocean dr. loop
Tags: alaska, clam gulch, daily photo, firewood, roadside, sign, sterling hwy.
Tags: anchorage, blue, clouds, daily photo, sky, summer
Tags: alaska, daily photo, fishing, prince william sound, whittier