Category Archives: AZ

Desert Rain

What I love about the Chicago suburbs is that there are forest preserves along many of the major highways. I love pulling over and taking a walk in the woods. (Not quite as much in the winter months though.)  In these months, I go looking for some green in the desert after the recent rains. In the “Valley of the Sun,” you’ll not find forest preserves, but Sonoran Desert Preserves with easy trail access. And there I found:

Grassy Desert


We were hiking in the Cave Creek Preserve area, about thirty-five miles due north of a more well-known landmark, Camelback Mountain:

Camelback in the distance

The plant in the foreground is one of my favorite in the desert. I gasped when we came around a bend and faced a field of them! (The photo doesn’t capture just how “surrounded” you feel by these interesting plants reaching skyward.)  Folks try to grow these for domestic landscape use, but they seldom seem to fare well. In the natural world after the big rain, these are looking especially lush.

Must find out what they're called

Like many varieties in the desert, they aren’t as friendly as they look though:

I’ll go back when they bloom. These will turn into what look like orange tags. They’ve got quite the flair against the green:

Quite the dramatic vegetation. Here’s another, imploring “Y!” against the bright blue sky:

Y? Because it rained! Here’s what’s left of the rain… (We’d come four days earlier and this was a running wash…it sure disappears quickly!)

Where waterfall had been!

Just a trickle remains:

Back through the wash on our way out. Most things happen slowly in the desert. Moist things disappear quickly:



Filed under AZ, Nature, Photos

‘Tis the Season…For Hummingbirds!?

The first holiday I ever spent in a warmer climate was: Thanksgiving, 1989 on Captiva Island in Florida.  I said to myself, “hmmm, this isn’t so bad!!

This year, I spent Christmas in Phoenix and we were visited by a winged angelic creature – a hummingbird.

I used to be bummed as kid in Chicago when I got a bike or skateboard and the streets were filled with snow — that, or it’d be so cold, it’d chase the likes of me back indoors in a hurry!!  In Phoenix, when you find out you’ve gotten photography lessons, you can run outside and practice for awhile with your newest lens.

Christmas flight:



more wings!


the "usual" hummingbird photo






less than satisfied

It does get chilly here…this is frost on December 24, 2009.  Tee-times delayed by hours and hours!!

Troon Golf

I know, I know…life is rough!

Happy holidays wherever you may be…

(And joking aside, “please be safe”…just finished reading about weather hazards.)


Filed under 2009, AZ, Christmas, Nature

Doctor’s Orders? Breakfast and Christmas on the Fly at D.V. Aiport

Christmas at Deer Valley Airport

Survived the doctor’s visit on “Bloody Basin Road” (heehee, scary!) so went for a big breakfast at Deer Valley Airport’s restaurant before finding out that we need to watch cholesterol?


Love to watch the runways:


Pre-flight done, this guy’s ready to taxi:

Ready to Taxi

We are ready for pie!


OK, the doctor will be pleased to know, we skipped the dang pie!  But I just love these display cases!  In case you want to go:

Deer Valley Airport & Restaurant

Deer Valley Airport Restaurant

…and Merry Christmas:

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Filed under AZ, Christmas, Christmas trees, Food and Drink

Desert Winter Sunset, Moon Moves In

December 19, 2009

Hello moon:

I’m learning to take pics and I realized there’s nothing around the moon to give it perspective.  When my husband climbed the ladder to do a measurement, that’s when I saw my “frame”:

So I tried working with it:

Distance to the Moon

Without measuring:

Crossbeams, Moonbeams

What do you think?


Filed under AZ, Nature, Photos

Scottsdale Spectacular on the Lake

McCormick Ranch, off Scottsdale Rd

You can’t miss this great light show on the east side of Scottsdale Road at the entrance to McCormick ranch…the great thing too was..

so many lights

…as I stood outside and got closer to the tree…walking on the grass toward it…what was I hearing…

inside the limbs and lights

…GEESE!!  There were what appeared to be at least a hundred of them floating on the lake in the darkness.  They did make themselves heard though.

Wonder if they were honking, “Merry Christmas?”


Filed under AZ, Christmas, Christmas trees

Phoenix 100 Club Tree

I popped out of Chicago just in time, what with the chilly temps!  I took a couple classes this past week in Phoenix and saw this little gem in an office window:

Phoenix 100 Club Office


remember service professionals


Phoenix 100 Club Office

Interestingly, later that evening, I saw the front page of local paper, The Foothills Focus (Dec 9, 2009 issue), “Couple’s light show aids families of service personnel” – a story about the home of Mike & Barb Mulvenna which features over 70,000 lights and this year is accepting donations for the 100 Club.  “The 100 Club is a non-profit organization that comes to the aid of the families of police and fire personnel who are seriously injured or killed in the line-of-duty.”

The Mulvenna home is located at 505 E. Desert Ranch Rd in Phoenix and the lights run nightly from 5:30 – 10 pm until January 9, 2010.

Now, that’s bright Christmas Spirit!  I’ll post pics from our future visit to see these lights!

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Filed under AZ, Christmas, Christmas trees

A “Balloon to the Moon” Dining Experience

OK, I haven’t talked about food OR service OR good business sense in awhile and I, myself, was starving for a nibble of all three.  When I read this:

With tantalizing entrees and sweeter afterthoughts, served up by exceptional people delivering extraordinary experiences. Avalon – where impassioned food meets gracious service – building relationships that inspire, stimulate, enrich.

I nearly fell to the floor (yes, like a lead balloon.)  WHAT?  This is either extravagant over-promising or…do I dare hope…

No!  I refuse.  I’ve been led down this road by imposters.  I will go to though, I will try the food, but I will NOT be lured in for a moment to think that

1.)  the entrees will truly be tantalizing

2.)  that dessert will be sweeter afterthoughts

3.)  “exceptional people” will be delivering to me an “extraordinary experience”  C’MON FOLKS

4.)  there will be “Impassioned food?”  DITTO

5.)  there will be Gracious service?  (So no sideways looks when I eventually request more water?  Not that one should have to ask…)

6.)  that RELATIONSHIPS (using the “R” word!?) are valued and will

7.)  Inspire (Like a true “Buddha in Business“?)

8.) Stimulate

9.)  Enrich

Sure, maybe two or at most, three of these can occur.  This is a lot of extremely high expectation-setting, blowing up a happy balloon.  There are many simple side-steps that can burst that lil’ balloon, that can stomp it into the ground.

But that little balloon, she did float right up high in the night, almost touching the moon.  Maybe had she left room for a “sweeter afterthought,” the moon is where she would have landed. With all her skepticism, maybe she wasn’t ready for the moon.  Brushing right up against it was satisfying enough.

It was so incredible, I didn’t even stop to take a photo.  Couldn’t be bothered.

As a matter of fact, I’m going to leave you now, as I have one of last night’s perfectly seared Maine diver scallops on mascarpone cream corn waiting for me in the refrigerator.  If only I had more of yesterday’s special soup, the decadent porcini-lobster bisque.  Rich, but not so as to overpower. Not the slightest hint of oilness which I’ve found can be a failure to any rich cream soup.  No wonder a chef himself brought it to our table; I would be proud too, had I prepared it.  If only I had time to tell you about the hostess who smiled and greeted us and, when our 8:00 table was ready at 7:45, gave a choice of seating preference.  I wish I’d found out if it was the manager or owner himself who’d come to our table to check on how everything was, but at the moment, I really didn’t care.  I was immersed in every aspect of what was promised, of what is, and dare I believe, of what will be another lunar adventure next time, Avalon.


Filed under AZ, Customer service, Restaurants