Friday, February 22, 2008

What is This?

I took this picture last summer shortly before we left for home. I still haven't figured out what it is. It was in a stone wall along a tree shaded street in Bastide-de-Bousignac, a small town between Leran and Mirepoix. If you know what this is, leave a comment.

Pretty Cute

These are photographs of a javelina herd sent to me by Bill Minckler, taken from his terrace. Check out the piglet nursing. I am always astonished by the fact that virtually every mammal, no matter how ungainly, scary, or repulsive, has offspring that are adorable. Est-ce que c'est pas aussi ?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yet Another Post Not About France

We just got back from a trip to the Phoenix, Arizona area. We were longing for a little warm weather and the opportunity to see some old friends. Both Nancy and I have friends from high school in the area. Nancy and Marianne went to school at Bishop Noll back in Indiana, and Bill and I flunked classes and played football and basketball together at Colorado Academy. We were later roomates for a few quarters in college at Western State College of Colorado.
So, Nancy, Fergus and I jumped in the pickup and headed south, through the Navajo Reservation to Carefree, Arizona where Bill and Kathy live in a most gorgeous location. They moved there from Portland, Oregon and are enjoying the warm, dry weather and clear skies. Their home is situated beneath a small mountain of granite boulders and, for a desert, has a tremendous number of plants surrounding it. All native by the way,.....saguaro, palo verde, prickly pear and cholla cactus, among some others I can't name. Also right out their back door are various critters you may or may not recognize. Pictured here are the javelina, mule deer and bobcat. The deer and bobcat were photographed by Bill Minckler right from the terrace at the back of his house.
The javelina are pig-like animals, and are called boars, sows and piglets. However they are not closely related to the pig family, nor are they rodents which apparently is a common mis-perception. Like the sangolier running loose around Southern France (which are in the pig family), javelina are equally wild. They are properly termed collared peccary and are closely related to a few other peccaries in the Americas. Since I'm not a wildlilfe biologist, I won't attempt further description, other than to say these javelina are tough little guys and can kill a dog rather quickly. Several sashayed by us and Fergus didn't even notice them. He was too busy playing with his stuffed animals.

We stayed with Bill and Kathy for a few days, had some delicious meals and some nice wines and saw lots of saguaro. (Saguaro cactus are found only in the Sonoran Desert which occupies parts of Arizona, Californa and Chihuahua, Mexico. ) We then headed down to Mesa to see Marianne and Gary. They wined us and dined us and the next day we set off for the Kartchner Caverns near Benson. It took us all day to drive down there, see the caverns and drive back, but it was worth it. You can Google the cavern and see some pictures, but they won't do it justice. I've been in a few caves and caverns, but nowhere have I seen more fantastic shapes and formations. Water slowly seeps into the ground and dissolves the limestone and then deposits it in stalactites, stalagmites and a dizzying array of other features I can't remember the names of. Whereas in France, the most interesting features in caves and caverns are the pre-historic paintings left by early man, Kartchner Caverns weren't visited by any humans whatsoever until the mid-70's and are pristine.
At the top of the post is a beautiful picture of Phoenix. We didn't see it like this because we never got near downtown Phoenix. The place is huge and has a large and growing population. Here are a few things I've learned about Phoenix while I was there: 1. Someday they are going to have a serious water crisis if they don't begin to conserve water, and; 2. They don't give a shit about the scarcity of petroleum either judging by the number of Hummers on the road.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Grand Theft, Photography

Well, folks, this is a first for me. I''ve stolen these photographs from Andy Cook at a website of his photos of the Rockies called Rocky Mountain Reflections. He has some stunning photos of Colorado and Utah. You can go to his website and see some of his other photos. You can find him by searching for images of Moab.

Anyway, for those of you who have yet to visit Moab, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what we have around here. The top photo is of Mesa Arch which is in Canyonlands National Park in the Island in the Sky district. The La Sal Mountains, Moab's local mountian range is in the distance.

The second picture is of the Windows section of Arches National Park and again the La Sals are in the background.

The third photo is of the most famous arch in the world, Delicate Arch. This arch is featured on our license plates and in lots of advertising and promotional materal for Utah and Moab. I heard a story about the naming of Delicate Arch and the mixup that occured when the USGS put the names on the map. There is another arch in the park, now called Landscape Arch, which is almost 100 yards from base to opposite base. You could put a football field beneath it. The rock forming Landscape tapers to just six feet in width and is very delicate in appearance and will someday fall into the sand. Delicate Arch, is not particularly delicate and was supposed to be called Landscape Arch because one could take pictures with the landscape of the La Sals in the background or inside the arch. In any case, the names were transposed and now are universaly accepted.

The last photo is of Chesler Park in Canyonlands National Park and is about 60 miles from Moab. Canyonlands is a much larger Park than Arches and has the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers. Most of the features of Canyonlands require a long day hike or a backpack trip. Canyonlands is truly a hiker's paradise and a very pristine park. Arches, in contrast, is well served by roads to the trailheads that take you on short walks to the arches themselves. Similar to Yellowstone, which has the bulk of the world's thermal activity, Arches has the bulk of the world's arches.

My apologies to Andy Cook for stealing his pictures. I hope he doesn't sue me. If no one tips him off, I might get away with it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hokey-Pokey Sighting

Well, this was just too good an opportunity to pass up---a recent donation to the thrift store. If it's on a T-shirt, it's as good as gospel isn't it? Some of you faithful readers may remember an earlier post (9/5/07 "The Party to End All Parties") recalling a rather fervent discussion between the Brits and Aussies/Americans over whether THE song is actually about Hokey-Pokey or Hokey-Cokey. So now, the final decision is in and I rest my case----nah nah nah nah NAH!

Moab's Mardi Gras Fashion BIZARRE!!

When you think of Mardi Gras celebrations around the world, Moab Utah generally isn't on the tip of most people's tongues. But for the past six years, WabiSabi has been throwing a hum-dinger of a party on Fat Tuesday. It may have started out as an end-of-winter excuse to get raucously drunk and watch skimpily-clad beauties and beasts strut locally designed costumes crafted by home-grown talent. The outfits were auctioned off to well-lubricated folks in hopes of raising enough funds to cover the evening's expenses and put a few bucks aside.

Just as the WabiSabi non-profit thrift store operation has evolved over the years, so has the Mardi Gras Fashion Show Bizarre. Designers wait in line to get on board. Committees meet regularly and work out details and themes. It is the biggest fundraiser of the year, netting thousands of dollars which are then distributed to our local non-profit partners. From a town of 6,000 people, that's not bad. And people still have a raucously good time, perhaps just slightly more grown up. Reserved 'runway' seats were sold this year, and even at $45 a pop, they went fast.

The theme this year was "The Evolution of Moab: Moab Through the Ages". The designers tackled the Stone Age, the Cowboy Era, the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, Present Day and the FUTURE in Moab. Since they were only given promise of $30.00 reimbursement for materials spent for the three outfits they were to design, they were certainly encouraged to utilize recycled materials whenever possible. WabiSabi, of course, provided them with all the used recycled clothing and other inventive "stuff" they needed.

And recycle they did. It wasn't until their outfits were being auctioned off that a full description of materials used was identified. For instance, the young lady in the last photo is wearing a top made from melted and molded vinyl records. The designer "Alien Child" found a home for mini-blind slats and old CD's in his Lotus Queen design (photo #4); the red plaid flannel bride is wearing a re-structured comforter cover; Outlaw Girl's corset is partially from a US flag; the jeweled crown of the stilt-walker is small squares of mirror over a helmet. Outlaw Girl took the prize at $510 USD, which today equals about 6 Euros or 3 British Pounds.

After the business transactions were completed the real party began. But I was already home by then, anxious to find out how super Super Tuesday was going to be.