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City Paint Phoenix 24 – Salt River Pima-Maricopa Woman

If you have been following the blog for some time, you might recognize the art/artist presented in this current installment of City Paint Phoenix.

The artist goes by the name of “El Mac” and he has painted murals all over the United States and across the globe.

I have shared images of his other works on at least six other occasions…which you can find by scrolling to the bottom of this page and clicking on the Category, “Street Art – Graffiti,” or by simply clicking on the highlighted link.

As you can read in this article in AZCentral.com, the image is based upon an actual person, a teenaged Native American girl who lives on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which is located just east of Scottsdale.

For those of you who live in, or are going to visit the Phoenix area, you can find the 45 foot tall mural on the southeast corner of the building at 111 W Monroe Street, just one block south of the better known Van Buren Street, and one block west of Central Avenue, in the heart of downtown Phoenix. There is metered parking on the north side of the building, but if you’re only going to be there for a few minutes, you could probably get away with parking in the alley on the south side, as I did. A security officer came out of the building to check on my truck parked in the alley, but he just smiled, said “Good morning,” and then walked away as he saw me with my camera admiring the mural.

El Mac painted the main feature of the mural and his friend and collaborator, Breeze, painted the decorative trim that we see in brighter colors surrounding the mural and extending around the building and down the walls.

And again…

After viewing the mural the first time and having taken multiple photographs with my phone, I purposed to return the next morning with my camera to make some “real” images, which I did.

I should also add that I left the scene that first morning with something of a lightness of spirit…like an inspiration or a feeling of calm…like it didn’t matter that I still had to go to work for eight hours and be stuck inside an office or talk to people with whom I really didn’t want to talk…it was okay. I was further touched each time I got out my camera during the day to look at the images again and again.

Maybe it was the serenity and hopefulness that I could see in the young woman’s expression…

…or maybe I was still awestruck from having been in the presence of a simple beauty that transcended even the need for words to describe it.

a flower in the trash**

A good friend and former coworker gave me an orchid plant a few years ago…four years ago in January, actually, when I returned to work after being out for a week when my mother died.

The plant was in a small dark reddish/maroon ceramic cup and had four broad, intensely green leaves and two vines or stems that were about six to eight inches long/tall and had anywhere from eight or ten flowers on each…I don’t remember exactly…

After a few months of “watering” it with crushed ice a couple of times a week, I found that I just couldn’t keep it watered enough and that the ice just melted and ran straight through the cup and the flowers wilted very soon and the broad dark leaves went soft and then stayed that way.

Not too long after that, I purchased a much larger pot and a bag of Miracle-Grow-infused orchid bark and repotted my little plant.  When I removed it from the smaller cup, I found that there were “tons” of root material curled into a huge twisted mass at the bottom of the cup, something that I sadly trimmed away and discarded in the trash…but it had to be done.

And now, four years later, I have seen a second plant grow up from the bark and sprout its own four leaves and two vines or stems with their many flowers, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of them all, 15, 18, 20….  My morning routine each day at work is to stop and greet the plant on the window sill near my desk.  I gently rub the dark green surface of the uppermost leaves, maybe rotate the planter to make sure the flowers aren’t touching the glass, and whisper “Hello,” something that seems silly as I type it here, but seems natural and only right when I do it every morning.  I think I probably perform this ritual to honor the plant’s life and the trust it must have in my routine to care for it…and to likewise honor the friend who gave it to me, his compassion and empathy, and to remember my mother, to acknowledge her continued presence and absence and all of the things I could and don’t say about that.

And it is now my weekly routine upon coming back to the office on Mondays to trim/pluck the flowers that have wilted over the weekend…and so we have this post. After I tossed the single flower into the trash a couple of weeks ago, went about my new morning at the desk, and then happened to look down into the trash. I was struck by the color and textures of the wilted body and leaves in its surroundings of the clean clearish-white trash bag…and was reminded immediately of some images that my blog friend, Lynn, has shared with us at Bluebrightly, particularly the ones of leaves and flowers pressed against the inside surface of a green-house’s windows or plastic tarpaulin partitions…the texture and form and light all combining to give us another micro-celebration of awe and wonder at the event and the artist’s eye and mind and heart to find it and capture it so.

**iPhound art

American Bison in Context

August 14, 2019 was the 33rd Wednesday of the year….the 54th day of Summer…and the 226th day of the year.  It was also Pakistan Independence Day…and World Lizard Day…six police officers were shot in Philadelphia on this day…and the Arizona Diamondbacks lost to the Colorado Rockies by the score of 6-7.

I was up from the desert to visit my Utah kids and to hike on Antelope Island…and to see a summer sunrise from a favored place.

It may seem odd to find American Bison on a large island out in The Great Salt Lake in northern Utah…but they’re there anyway and they create something of an allure to visitors from both home and abroad.

Wikipedia provides that there are between 550 and 700 individual bison on the island during any given year…and that, because of the lack of natural, non-human predators, the herd can increase by about 25% per year.

I saw 5-6 different groupings of the bison during my hours on the island that day…including this medium-sized collection and another one that I will share in a later post.

Commuter Sunset

I suppose one could say that it’s worth the occasional blinding sunset when heading west in the evenings after work…because of the occasional treasure one finds smack-dab in front of them on other days…..

iPhound art two nights ago….

Sycamore Canyon – presentation of trails

The first day of Summer last year, 6/21/2020, brought me back to a place that I had first explored on 3/29/2015, Parsons Trail in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area…which is located just north and east of Clarkdale, Arizona…which is a bit south and west of Sedona.

I left the canyon with almost six hundred photos after my first exploration…

…and brought home a bit under four hundred this last time.

So after browsing and examining the recent cache, I was able to whittle-down the presentable images to a few dozen…

…some of which I have already presented, here, and the remainder of which will appear in following posts.

Given that there were so many photos that I thought were “share-worthy,” I have separated them into the general categories of…

…trails, fauna, water, grass seed-heads…

…and one set of two images that will present the Sycamore Canyon version of Kermit….

It took roughly two hours to make it to the trailhead, some eleven or so miles beyond Clarkdale, from my house in the far northwest corner of Metropolitan Phoenix.

The very first image in this post was from the cliff edge where the trail drops from the trail-head parking lot into the canyon, at just shy of 7:00 am…so the sun was already up and well enough over the horizon to remove the shadows for a good portion of the canyon, but as you can see, was not sufficiently high to do so entirely…there was still a softness to the light in the canyon and a strong remainder of shadow to effect the images with a broader view.

In the eighth and ninth images above, to the right side of each, you can see raspberry bushes…a nice surprise for a high-desert, canyon hike.

Incredibly diverse plant life…just wonderful stuff.

The “focus” of this post is supposed to be the actual trail itself…a general subject of which I am quite fond…whether they’re winding through a mountain forest, through a “typical” desert range or flatlands, I find something very alluring about them; compelling, drawing, inviting….  In the below photo, you may notice that the trail is actually on the lowest level of the tiered rock just above the waterline…leading us back into the greenery…

…and this bit of trail takes us to the right of the fallen, sharp edged blocks, and skirting the cliff wall.  By the way, the sand that you can see in the foreground was finer than beach sand…almost dusty at that location…making for awkward and struggling foot steps.

Now going beneath aged cedar trees….

…and now pass along the flattened rock, again, taking us beyond another larger pond that has formed in the length of stream.

On the way back, now, in the below photo, with the sun full overhead…

…and welcoming the shade again, of the branching mesquite and other canyon trees…at just after 11:00 am.

And below…the price one pays for going north to hike on a weekend day…the drive back to the Phoenix valley…..

The wrecked juju or Zen aside, it was well worth the drive to hike in Sycamore Canyon again.  Thank you for joining me.

Election Day and Jesse Girl

It was Tuesday morning after an anxious Monday…stressful months.

So many things have happened so far in this year of 2020…

…lies revealed, viruses emerged, taxes not filed, bountied soldiers’ lives not acknowledged, quarantines served…

…promises broken, tallies marked, masks unworn, lives lost, children caged, families torn, secrets revealed…

alliances broken, and real heroes scorned.

Sometimes it hurts to pay attention.

My morning commute down quiet streets, following taillights…

…watching the eastern sky gray into dawn, encountering silhouette cityscapes of buildings…

power lines, and ubiquitous palm trees.

Others heading in the same direction, south on Central Avenue…the light rail…bicyclers…

…a far off desert “mountain” that defines the lower edge of the Valley of the Sun.

Art museum, opera, loft apartments, pharmacies, coffee shops, attorney general office, city athletic club…parking meters…

…cameras watching to see who steals through a light….

Heading east now and ever approaching my destination, passing charter schools, groceries, fast food, temp agencies…

…ever present construction zones…and hospitals.

My bride and I ate lunch at this city park decades ago…when our children were little and life was difficult, though less complicated….

I could go straight and then left and reach the office…or I could get on the freeway and go somewhere else…head west, then north and away.

When I found a pedestrian bridge on an evening walk in Utah, a local spray-can artist had adorned the walkway with “Seek Life.”

Looking west from the bridge…contemplating the day…desiring that it fulfills hopes…that more ballots are cast for my guy than the other….

An overhead ornament on the bridge…a simple thing in a complicated time.  Breathe….

On a Desert Morning

My morning today, November 1, was spent in part at my desk, reading and looking at images from friends’ blog posts across the country…with the office window open only inches away from me…cool autumn breeze slightly chilling my fingertips, with my cat lying next to the laptop with his nose and front paws occasionally touching the window’s screen as he intently watched the birds on the ground outside, or freezing to an unusual kitty stiffness as hummingbirds approached the honeysuckle a foot away from his twitching whiskers.

Sunrise eight months ago…a Sunday morning in March.

Bouys in a sea of clouds….

Nature’s gifting on a cloudy and rainy day just over two years ago…radio towers atop the White Tank Mountains in the far west valley of metropolitan Phoenix.

a fence in context

From July 2019…heading north for a hike….

You might remember earlier posts with the images of sunrise through the seed-heads.

To use John Muir’s favorite word, it was “glorious.”

Wildfires earlier this year have turned this into a charred mess…posts and wires strung across a wasteland.

But it will come back…glorious splendor will return…after a season or two of restoration….

Colorful Desert…”supellex varia ad desertum”

I believe I have already shared some images from my springtime wanderings in the state trust land north of the White Tank Mountains in northwest Surprise, AZ…but I didn’t share many of the floral images…so here they are…covering a range of something like 22 days…three Sunday morning visitations.

Interesting name for the ones below…”Blue Dicks.”  I prefer the alternative name of Desert Hyacinth…just sounds better, somehow…Dichelostemma capitatum.

Chia, below….Salvia columbariae.

Rounded a bend in the trail and found this mass of lupines…Arizona or Coulter’s lupine…something like Lupinus sparsiflorus.

Closer….

….with their telltale eight leaves….

Lupine and a single Golden Poppy…Eschscholtzia mexicana.

A view to the north and east from the state trust land….

Lupine and Desert Fiddleneck…Amsinckia tessellata….

And the near ubiquitous Brittlebush…Encelia farinosa.

Orange Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea munroana, with Lupine.

Probably Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa…as the spines are much closer than we usually see on the Staghorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia versicolor.

Probably Buckhorn Cholla, not Staghorn

Red Brome…Bromus madritensis.

Lupine…in preparation (parabatur).

Desert Chicory…or New Mexico Plumeseed…Rafinesquia neomexicana.

Desert Bluebell…Phacelia campanularia.

That’s all for now…Quod ut ‘quia iam omnia.