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NEW YORK, PRINCETON… BUT MOSTLY “AIDA”

The main reason for this short trip is the performance of AIDA at the Metropolitan Opera. This is something I had been planning long before we left Maui. And now it is coming to fruition. We are finally going to see the “grandest of the grand operas” performed by one of the world’s top opera companies.

GREETINGS FROM NEW YORK!

Apr 18, 2017

Elizabeth and I arrived this evening at sunset at JFK after traveling all day from Arizona, with an 1.5 hr delay in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But all is well. And we finally got to wear some of our winter clothes. 🙂 Temperatures are in the 40s at night.

The main reason for this short trip is the performance of AIDA at the Metropolitan Opera. This is something I had been planning long before we left Maui. And now it is coming to fruition. We are finally going to see the “grandest of the grand operas” performed by one of the world’s top opera companies.

Meanwhile, we checked ourselves into a cute 1-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side. The neighborhood is full of great restaurants and shops. And is within a walking distance from the opera venue at Lincoln Center.

Bye for now…

 * * *

Apr 19, 2017

MANHATTAN ON FOOT

Our today’s walk through Midtown gave a new meaning to the expression “shop till you drop”

I told Elizabeth yesterday that on this trip, I have no agenda or plans for Manhattan except for us seeing AIDA at the Met tomorrow night.

“So what would you like to do tomorrow?” (meaning today)

“Shop.”

I smiled. Women. Or more specifically – this woman. She loves to shop. Not that she has not done it a number of times before in Manhattan. But like good sex, it’s always new when you do it right.

So this morning, off we went on our walking tour of Midtown Manhattan. Five hours later, our legs were ready to fall off. And I understood firsthand the meaning of the saying “shop till you drop.”

Elizabeth was grateful though. She thanked me several times for being patient and rushing her. She saw I could have taken a nap while she was shopping at her favorite store – Bloomingdale’s, for example (see the photo).

And I also had my reward – a delicious crepe, my favorite dessert, which I could not resists buying from a food truck in Central Park. 🙂

PS: PALO PRIEDA (photo – above)

Palo Prieda – stone tree in Spanish – like a tree Elizabeth and I discovered in McDowell Mtns 8 years ago, grew out of a stone.

Exhausted, we had a big nap once we got back to our apartment.

“Jet lag,” Elizabeth commented.

“Shop lag,” I thought. 🙂

Here are some scenes from Grand Central Station and Times Square…

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On our way back to our Upper West Side apartment, we also stopped by the Lincoln Center where tomorrow we are going to attend the performance of AIDA.

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WE TOOK A TURN OFF 7TH AVENUE AND ENDED UP IN IMPERIAL RUSSIA

It’s funny how strange things that happen when you let your Spirit guide you seem at first, yet end up perfectly normal in hindsight. What happened tonight in New York was another case in point. It was an unexpected time and space travel back to Imperial Russia.

Elizabeth has had her taste buds set for a pastrami sandwich dinner at Carnegie Deli since before we left Phoenix. Tonight was the night we decided to do it so we are not rushed before our opera attendance tomorrow.

We had been to Carnegie Deli a number of times before so should have had no trouble finding it. It was right across the street on 7th Ave from Carnegie Hall, New York’s premiere concert venue.

But not tonight. We could not find it.

“Maybe it’s gone out of business,” I speculated. “Though that’s unlikely for such a landmark establishment as Carnegie Deli,” I added.

We turned back, and this time, we started to pay attention to every nook and cranny on 7th Ave. Lo and behold, where once was the famous Carnegie Deli, now remained a hole in the wall, boarded up with a tiny notice pasted on the window from the owner. Indeed, the place had closed after 80 years in business.

“What do we do now?” Elizabeth said.

“We’ll figure something out,” I replied. And at that moment, like a flash, an inspiration came to me: The Russian Tea Room.

“It’s just around the corner,” I explained to Elizabeth. “But don’t get your hopes up. That’s a famous restaurant and we don’t have a reservation.”

As it turned out, our Spirit guides had already made a reservation for us. We were taken directly to a private booth.

What followed was a delicious dinner consisting of Borsht (beet) soup which we shared, followed by Chicken Kiev for Elizabeth, and for me Kulebiaka (breaded salmon with slow cooked onions, mushrooms and vegetables, wrapped in pastry, baby bok choy, baby corn, kohlrabi and turnips with a light ginger miso glaze. Yum!

I then told Elizabeth the story about the White Russian emigres whom the Bolshevik Revolution had scattered around the world like mice. And wherever they landed, they brought their memories and pieces of Imperial Russia with them. One of them was the Russian Team Room.

The Russian Tea Room opened in 1927 by former members of the Russian Imperial Ballet. It became a gathering place for Russian expatriates. It gradually became famous as a gathering place for stars in the entertainment industry. Which is why it has always been a popular, though expensive dining choice.

And that’s how we ended up time traveling to Imperial Russia after turning off 7th Ave at Carnegie Hall.

PS: So now I know why I chose to wear a red shirt today. 🙂 I was not aware how this day would end when I put it on this morning.

 * * *

Apr 20, 2017

A WALK THROUGH CENTRAL PARK

Spurning the Met Museum Zoo

Two days ago, the weather forecast was calling for a 90% chance of rain in New York. So I “got on the horn” with my spirit guides and asked them if they would at least spare us the rain in the evening, when we are supposed to attend the AIDA at the Metropolitan Opera. (We are planning to walk there from our apartment).

Well, they did more than that. There was no rain at all in Manhattan today. In fact, sun was trying to break through the clouds for the first time since we got here. So Elizabeth and I went out for another walk through and around Central Park.

We also thought tentatively we might stop for a visit at the Metropolitan Museum. But the throngs of people that were there, both outside and inside, made it look more like a human zoo.

“We don’t need that kind of hassle, especially on a nice day,” I said and Elizabeth agreed.

We did stay long enough to witness the hypocrisy of this institution. The signs at the ticket booths read, “SUGGESTED donation $25.” But when we tried to use a restroom, two guards stopped us.

“Your ticket, please,” one of them said.

“I don’t have one,” I replied, adding pointing to the ticket booth: “It says there SUGGESTED donation, not a mandatory ticket purchase.”

“I know,” the guard said sheepishly. “But you need to have a ticket to get through here.”

Even to the restroom.

Money, money, money… and shysterism and duplicity – thy name is New York.

Did I mention that our new president is a New Yorker? 🙂

We had been to the Museum before so giving it a miss this time was no great loss. We walked back out to the park and had an enjoyable time watching kids’ baseball and toddlers’ games next to many mothers’ stroller conventions around the park.

Oh, did I also mention that our apartment is on the same block where John Lennon used to live and was killed in 1981? Even today people are gathering there as if it were a memorial.

“AIDA” AT THE MET: A SPECTACULAR PERFORMANCE

There’s one word that sums up the performance of Verdi’s AIDA at the Metropolitan Opera in New York: SPECTACULAR.

That’s what Elizabeth also said after our 4-hour opera experience at the Lincoln Center. She now places the AIDA at the Met at the No. 1 spot among the operas we have seen around the world. “Madam Butterfly” at the Sydney Opera House (2015) comes second. “Valkyrie” by the Hawaii Opera Theater (2010) is in third place on her list of favorite opera experiences.

Here are some photos from last night’s performance. The best part – we ended up seated next to each other after all, despite buying two separate tickets three months apart.

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To put this in a proper context, here’s a story behind our story of AIDA at the Met.

“SYNCHRONICITY ON STEROIDS”

“This is synchronicity on steroids,” commented a shaman-friend of mine from Sedona upon hearing about what had preceded our trip to New York. And this is what happened…

“I bought my AZ ticket back in December when I had no idea about this deal from last night. But I have been praying every day since then for my spirit guides to release me from physical bondage to this land, and to have the property sold before my return on Mar 8. And lo and behold.,,,

In fact, my March trip was part of another “big deal” to see “Aida” opera in New York at the Met after Anne [my daughter who lives in Vienna] and her family leave AZ in April (I had never seen Aida live before). So I booked the flights Maui-Phoenix-New York-Phoenix. I never bought the portion from Phoenix to Maui, though, thereby subconsciously manifesting my intention to be finished with Maui by then.

Fast forward about a week later. I was able to get a seat for Elizabeth on the same flight back from Maui to Phoenix, and even right next to me.

Furthermore, I was able to get her on the same flights from Phoenix to New York in April (Apr 18-22) to see the opera AIDA. And again, right next to me. Alas, I only had one ticket for the Met Opera on Apr 20. So I put mine up for sale on eBay. After 3 weeks, it had still not sold.

So I changed my tack. I went back to the Met Opera website to see if I can get a single ticket for her. Lo and behold, I did. It was the last one available. And here’s the best part: It was also on Balcony an even the same row as mine which I bought back it December. Plus it was at about half price since I bought it directly from the Opera rather than a ticket agent.”

EPILOGUE

And now, the final touch of our Spirit guides… we ended up actually sitting next to each other at last night’s performance. That was our bit of MAGIC to go with a magical opera by Verdi at the Met.

Oh yes, one more thing… the weather stayed dry throughout our stay in New York despite a forecast for 90% chance of rain before we got here.

Thank you, God!

“AIDA” AT THE MET: UPDATE

Here are a few more shots from our attendance at last night’s performance of AIDA by the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Each of us walked away with a Met souvenir: Elizabeth – with a pretty inscribed bag, me – a musically adorned watch.

 * * *

Apr 21, 2017

VISIT TO PRINCETON: LAST STAGE OF OUR TRIP

On our last day on this trip we decided to rent a car in Manhattan and drive to Princeton University in New Jersey. We had been to Princeton once before (in 2008) on our first long distance “honeymoon” trip to New York.

We had a great time then, and we had a great time in Princeton today. We ended our visit to this Ivy League school with a delicious dinner at a creperie on Nassau St. (photo).

Getting out of Manhattan, however, was a different story. Between massive construction-related street blockages, and a resulting lack of signs, it took us forever to negotiate our way to the Lincoln Tunnel. The net result was a massive headache Elizabeth developed as a result of the stress.

Don’t worry, there is nothing that a Starbucks green tea frappuccino and a drive through the green countryside around Princeton would not cure. By the time we started walking through the campus, all was well with Elizabeth’s head and mood.

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NO INDIANS AMONG PRINCETON FRESHMEN!

While waiting for Elizabeth in one of the university buildings (School of Foreign Studies), I noticed an interesting poster on the wall. It was sort of “who’s who” among the Princeton freshmen from Asia (photo).

“What’s missing on this map?” I asked Elizabeth when she rejoined me.

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She could not figure it out.

“India,” I said. “There are no students here from India!”

Yet India is now virtually tied with China as the world’s most populous country (1.31 billion vs. 1.38 billion people).

Why are there no Indian freshmen at Princeton’s School of Foreign Studies?

I have no idea. So I asked a couple of students – one white blonde and one Asian with blonde hair.

They had no idea, either. In fact, they had not even noticed this anomaly.

“Well, that’s what happens when a Truth in Media editor arrives on a liberal university campus,” I told Elizabeth on our way out. “While most people notice what’s there, he notices the things that are missing.” 🙂

Some call it “reading between the lines.” I say that’s experience of decoding the New World Order’s lamestream media lies and deceptions for 27 years. This was merely another case in point.

Anyway, we are back at our Newark hotel and ready to fly back home to Phoenix tomorrow.

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 * * *

Apr 22, 2017

A feel-good human interest story

COMPASSION AND GRATITUDE ON AA FLIGHT 550

The American people still have goodness in their hearts, notwithstanding our evil governments

We are back home now. Our 5-day trip to New York was a “red carpet” sojourn all the way. With a few stains here and there we picked up in Manhattan (stand by for an editorial on that).

Elizabeth and I both agreed that the apex of the trip was actually its main purpose – our evening at the Metropolitan Opera to see AIDA.

The second best, again we both agreed, was our spur-of-the-moment dinner at the Russian Tea Room.

The third, at least for me, was our last crepe dinner at a Princeton University creperie. Also spontaneous and unplanned.

Late Start from Newark

But our spirit guides saved perhaps the best human interest story for our return trip. Even before we got to the airport in Newark, NJ, we had been advised by AA that our flight to Dallas would be delayed by about 30 mins.

Later, we found out that the reason was a delay in incoming flight’s departure from New York via Charlotte, NC, due to congestion at the JFK airport. Or soma other JFK hassle. The same thing happened on our incoming flight to JFK from Charlotte.

So it looks like a chronic New York problem. And JFK is an airport to avoid in your travel plans, if at all possible.

As it turned out, our departure from Newark was actually 1.5 hours late. Which was the length of our layover in Dallas. So it looked as if we were likely to miss our Phoenix connection there.

But airlines pad their estimated flight times. So by the time we landed in Dallas, we still had 45 mins to make it to our Phoenix flight gate. So no sweat, no problem.

Hassles at Dallas Airport

Alas, we were not as lucky as we thought. The flight 550 to Phoenix was fully boarded with about 5 mins to spare before scheduled departure time. The captain had announced that they were about to close the doors and get ready to depart.

That’s when two Dallas cops entered the cabin. We overheard one of them say to his buddy, “we don’t even know if he (or she or they) is the first class or the economy.”

The proceeded to about the middle of the main cabin, followed by several members of the AA crew. After awhile, they walked back out with a young woman in between. She looked well dressed and groomed.

“She sure doesn’t look like a typical criminal, does she?” I told Elizabeth. She agreed.

“Maybe it’s a white collar crime,” I speculated. “Or they wanted her as a witness in a drug bust.”

I found it strange that Dallas cops would be allowed to enter and either arrest or interrogate a passenger. “Aren’t the airports supposed to be under federal jurisdiction?” I said to Elizabeth.

No answer. She just shrugged.

More waiting.

After about 10 minutes, the young woman walked back to her seat. Alone.

After some action in the front cabin, I saw a member of the maintenance crew depart the cockpit.

“Uh-uh,” I said to Elizabeth. “That’s never a good sign.”

After a few minutes, the captain came back on the horn.

“Sorry about all this. We now have new problem. Our cockpit door won’t lock. So we have now asked for maintenance to fix it. Hopefully it won’t take long.”

To cut the long story short, we departed Dallas about 1 hour later than scheduled.

Tight Phoenix Connections Lead to Magnificent Display of Compassion and Gratitude

This, of course, was bad news for all passengers who had tight connections in Phoenix. So the cabin crew chief came on the blower twice to announce that there were a lot of people on board in this predicament. And she asked the rest of the passengers, whose final destination was Phoenix, or who had connections after 8:30 PM, to remain seated upon landing to give others a chance to deplane and try to make their connecting flights.

Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened.

When the plane landed and arrived at the gate in Phoenix, it took, what must have seemed like an eternity for waiting passengers with tight connection. for the ground crew to connect the jetway.

“Everybody is cooperating except for the airline,” one of the passengers remarked.

When the doors finally opened, most people, even in first class, remained seated, to let a flood of some 60-80 people rush through the aisle. As they were many of them were expressing their appreciation and gratitude to the seated passengers.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you…” and “God bless you all…” kept echoing through the cabin.

From the other side, one could hear the shouts, “good luck to you!… hope you make your flight!”

Compassion and gratitude

THAT’s what makes America GREAT, not the bombastic statements by our latest two-faced Liar in Chief at the While House and his group of plutocrats. And that’s what has ALWAYS made America GREAT.

In times of need, the people of this country have always reached out to each other and to the rest of the world. Even when it wasn’t our fight (like in the two world wars).

THAT is something the foreigners, who don’t understand this nation, need to remember. WE ARE NOT OUR GOVERNMENTS. Most of the American people have pure and compassionate hearts.

The spirit of compassion and gratitude was on display ini spades last night on the AA flight 550.

Epilogue

It’s good to be home. For five days, Elizabeth and I have not seen the sun. And for people who live in the Valley of the Sun, that’s ecological starvation.

The daily highs in New York were in the low 50s (F). Today, the temps in Scottsdale are expected to reach 92F.

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No wonder the beautiful Palo Verde tree in our front yard, which we planted three years ago, greeted us with a big golden smile.

Welcome back to the desert,” its golden flowers, which look like hundreds of mini suns, seem to speak.

HAPPY SAINT GEORGE’S DAY!

 * * *

EPILOGUE II

NEW YORK, NEW YORK… WHAT WILL BECOME OF THIS MODERN-DAY SODOM AND GOMORRAH?

Our trip to New York this week reminded Elizabeth and me of just how fortunate we are NOT to live in a place like that. On our flight back to Phoenix, we ruminated about that.

After living for the last 8 years on a 7-acre Garden of Eden in Paradise on Earth (Maui, Hawaii), and for the last 3.5 decades in the Arizona desert (Scottsdale), our return to New York served as a rude wake-up call. About how “the other half” live.

I have been coming to New York regularly during the last four decades while I was active in business out of Phoenix, sometimes 2-3 times a month. I spent more times in New York during the last 30 years than in any other city other than my hometown – Phoenix/Scottsdale.

Yet while many other people reveled and worshipped the City’s alleged vibrancy, I have always hated it. Could not wait to get out and back to the Arizona desert.

Because New York made me feel like a hamster on a wheel. Or a rat in a rat race whose only objective was self-enrichment.

Money, money, money… everybody seems to be about chasing 24/7 the Almighty Dollar in this modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.

Quality of life?

What’s that? The nightmare of just trying to leave the City and get to the Lincoln Tunnel in downtown Manhattan gave Elizabeth a massive headache.

POOR BIRD, POOR PEOPLE OF NEW YORK

The day before, while walking along Broadway on the Upper West Side, I spotted a small warbler perched on an iron fence.

“Poor bird,” I said to Elizabeth. “Having to live in a concrete jungle like this.”

“Yes, poor bird,” she agreed.

We also felt sorry for the people who have to live in a place like New York City. Yes, “have to.” Because very few of them have a chance to escape this prison of human spirit. They are confined to it either culturally or economically.

For those who have lived in this urban jungle all their lives chasing the Accursed Buck, this is “normal.”

“If they don’t know any better, perhaps they don’t miss the green fields and blue skies and oceans the way we do,” I told Elizabeth.

Bird, man, spirit… caged. That’s life in New York City.

THE ACCURSED BUCK RULES THE ROOST EVEN IN THE WORLD OF ARTS AND CULTURE

Of course, New York also has some appeals. The arts and culture scene is one of them. But even the artists come here in pursuit of fame and fortune. And we saw how greedy the Metropolitan Museum was when its “suggested donation” turned out to be a mandatory $25 ticket even just to use a restroom.

So back to money, money, money. And greed, greed, greed.

The Accursed Buck rules the roost in New York City. This became all too obvious to Elizabeth and me even during our short (4-day) stay in the City this week.

‘No wonder one of my IBM 1976 Atlanta, Georgia, sales school classmates said, when we were all asked to introduce ourselves and state where we were from, “my name is Hirsch Rosenberg [fictitious name], and I am from the Shitty.”

At the time, I had no idea what he meant, never having been to New York before 1976. But now, especially after this 4-day visit, I understand my old IBM pal all too well.

“Shitty” it is indeed.

“We are so blessed,” Elizabeth said upon our return home to Scottsdale last night.

Indeed we are.

We have the sunshine, the clean air, the  pools and spas, the freedom to roam the desert, no traffic nightmares, birds and bees on the golf courses, Arizona Opera, Phoenix Symphony, Hispanic cuisine and fiestas, western rodeos and horse races… so why would we want to go to Sodom and Gomorrah?

AIDA. That’s the only reason.

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DESERT IN BLOOM: BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

The Arizona desert is finally starting to show its beautiful springtime colors. They are late this year because of a lot of winter rains, we are told. Better late than never.

This morning Elizabeth and I decided to walk to our nearby grocery store instead of driving. And were rewarded with these gorgeous colors.

A little over years ago, I took a picture of this very same clump of Prickly Pear cacti with fuchsia-color bloom under a Palo Verde tree.  Elizabeth liked the scene so much she created a painting from it.

I just found that photo. It was taken on Mar 18, 2014. Look at how much more resplendent the flowers were – THREE WEEKS EARLIER into spring that year. That’s unequivocal proof of how late this year’s desert bloom is – lagging behind about a month.

MORNING GLORY ARIZONA STYLE

This morning, I noticed our first two springtime roses in full bloom. The golden-orange one came from the south side of our yard, the crimson-red one from the north side.

I don’t know what that means. Hope it does not portend Wars of the Roses in the desert. 🙂 I prefer to think of them as Morning Glory Arizona-style.

(see Wars of the Roses from British history – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wars_of_the_Roses)

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UPDATE APR 5, 2017

BEAUTIFUL CACTUS FLOWERS

Take a look at these two beautiful cactus flowers Elizabeth and I saw on our walk this morning around our neighborhood.

They almost look like sunflowers. Who would think that something so prickly could be so dainty?

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UPDATE APR 6, 2017

BACK ON CALVARY HILL ARIZONA

I just got back from a bike-hike-bike ride to and from the Calvary Hill Arizona – the name I gave four years ago to a special trail in the McDowell Mtns above Scottsdale.  I did not know until I got and looked at my “on this day” posts that I did the exactly the same thing three years ago on the same date.

On my way there, I stopped the bike at a home in our Scottsdale neighborhood to take this picture of another beautiful cactus in bloom.

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AIDA TRIUMPHAL MARCH

Apr 23, 2017

 

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“EL JEEPO” BACK IN SERVICE FOR ONE DAY

Four new citrus trees planted

For over seven years, “El Jeepo” has been my work horse at our Rainbow Shower ranch in Maui. Last September, I had him shipped to Arizona for a well-earned retirement. Since that time, I have only used him for occasional joy rides through the desert. Until yesterday.

A part of my backyard looked pretty bare for someone who has been used to taking care of a 7-acre jungle property spread around a Hawaiian gulch. So I decided to add some more greenery to it. I mounted El Jeepo, and we went to a local store to get four new citrus tree saplings – two kinds of oranges, one lime and one lemon.

Now here’s a difference between El Jeepo’s and my work in Hawaii vs. here in Arizona. I hired someone to plant the saplings. I Maui, I would have done the whole thing myself. Over the years, I had planted literally hundreds of trees of various kinds and sizes. But now that El Jeepo and I are officially in retirement from farming, I decided to be like Martha Stewart and point instead of digging myself. 🙂

Donald Trump would be pleased. One more American job saved. Or created, if you wish. 🙂

UPDATE MAR 28, 2017

A SPECTACULAR OCOTILLO IN FULL BLOOM

Two Majestic Arizona Desert Dwellers

This morning, Elizabeth and I went for a walk around our Grayhawk neighborhood. And we came across this huge 20-ft Ocotillo that took our breath away.
I have never seen one as spectacular and perfect in all respects as this one. Resembling bonfire flames with read flowers atop each green branch, it was the biggest and the most beautiful desert plant that we have seen in bloom this spring. Or maybe ever. My caption for this shot would be DESERT FLAME.

But don’t be fooled by these benign looking green branches. Like so many desert plants, they are actually full of vicious thorns. Let’s just say you would not want to pick one up with your bare hands.

By the way, Ocotillos have been used for centuries by the natives in the American Southwest for a variety of medicinal and non-medicinal purposes.

The photo on the right is that of another magnificent specimen of the Arizona desert – the world famous Saguaro. My caption for this sunset shot would be ARIZONA CHURCH. 🙂

Medicinal Uses:

A tincture made of fresh bark is useful for eliminating symptoms associated with inflammation of the pelvic region. Ocotillo can also be effective in alleviating hemorrhoids, benign prostate enlargements, and cervical varicosities.
The Cahuilla Indians prepared Ocotillo root in a tea to treat a harsh, moist cough observed in the elderly. The Apache Indians often used the reddish orange blossom, fresh or dried in a tea, which aided in the relief of soar and swollen muscles. The seeds and flowers were also eaten raw in various dishes.

Non-medicinal Uses:

The resin and wax collected from the bark is often used to condition leather. These lengthy stems of Ocotillo are also used as fence posts, if watered frequently they can re-root themselves and become a living fence post. Dried stems of the ocotillo can be used as a regular fence by layering them on top of one another and tying them together.
ALTZAR: I’ve seen those kinds of fences. They are formidable military defense barriers. The Indians used them to protect their villages from invaders including wild animals.
By the way, Ocotillo’s official botanical name is Fouquieria splendens. They have an average lifespan of 60 years, though some have been known to live 72 years.
 * * *

UPDATE APR 1, 2017

OUR MOVE FROM HAWAII IS NOW (NEARLY) COMPLETE

On Thursday March 30 at 9 PM (yes, PM, no mistake there), a trucker delivered our Nissan Leaf after a long trans-oceanic journey from Hawaii.  And today, I took it to a car wash to give it a fresh gleaming start at its new desert home.

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The shipment of some our Rainbow Shower house contents also arrived the next day (March 31).  We had sold most of our possessions in Maui and have kept only some personal effects, artifacts and some antiques. Still the movers managed to break a few valuable pieces.

Like a  200-or-so-year old antique chair, or Elizabeth’s late Mom’s Don Quixote sculpture, or this Czech crystal bowl.

Oh well, that’s life, I suppose. You lose some, you create some. And you move on…

UPDATE APR 3, 2017

EAGLE’S NEST ART GALLERY – REINSTATED

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I made a feeble attempt this weekend at hanging some tapestries and other artifacts that arrived last week here from our Rainbow Shower home in Maui. After I had made a mess of just one of them in our dining room drywall – the easiest and the smallest of our tapestries – handyman I am not! 🙂 – I summoned a real handyman to complete the job today. In fact, you can still see his ladder and tools in some of the pictures.

And what a job he did. Perfection all around. And what a job he did. Perfection all around. It took him 3 hours of laser-precision measurements (literally, he used a laser). And it was worth it.

Take a look at the newly reassembled Eagle’s Nest Art Gallery… (some of these tapestries had already hung on these very walls in the past – before our move to Maui in 2009).

UPDATE MAY 10, 2017

BYE, BYE “EL JEEPO!”

And so ends our 8-year relationship with this loyal work horse and a fun companion with which we explored the beautiful Maui sights and heights.

And with that, the last physical vestige of our 8-year life in Hawaii is gone. Of course, the memories are forever.

Adios y muchos gracias, El Jeepo!

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DISCOVERING “STANDING STONES” AT PINNACLE PEAK… AND MORE

Expect the unexpected. That has become a modus operandi for me during my Arizona desert hikes. Today, I discovered the “Standing Stones” at Pinnacle Peak, a Scottsdale mountain I have hiked dozens of times over the last 30 or so years.

MY SPRING EQUINOX HIKE LEADS ME TO A SACRED SITE FOR THE FIRST TIME; PLAYING A GOOD SAMARITAN TO A SUFFERING TOURIST AND MEETING “COLIN FIRTH?”

Expect the unexpected. That has become a modus operandi for me during my Arizona desert hikes. Today, I discovered the “Standing Stones” at Pinnacle Peak a Scottsdale mountain I have hiked dozens of times over the last 30 or so years.

I had no idea they existed when I was guided to revisit the Pinnacle Peak trail. I had intended to dedicate the hike to the Spring Equinox which will take place in a few hours.

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RETURN TO PHOENIX SYMPHONY

Elizabeth and I did not waste any time getting re-immersed into the Arizona desert cultural life. Last night, we attended a performance of Beethoven’s 3rd symphony, the “Eroica,” by the Phoenix Symphony orchestra. It was another wonderful performance which the conductor, Tito Munoz, led without referring to any sheet music over the entire 48-minutes of its length.

But first, we had to endure – and I underscore ENDURE – you might even say suffer through György Ligeti’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra.

LIGETI’S MUSIC: CACOPHONY OF DISCONSONANT SOUNDS

Who is Ligeti? (1923-206). Exactly. Based on what we heard last night, you didn’t miss much if you have never heard of him. His music was a cacophony of disconsonant sounds. Kind of like a bunch of mice in a drunken rage partying while cat’s away. Awful.

If that’s what passes as “contemporary” or “modern” music, I’d even take rap over it.

Anyway, here’s the official bio summary for this mice music composer: György SĂĄndor Ligeti was a Hungarian composer of contemporary classical music. He has been described as “one of the most important avant-garde composers in the latter half of the twentieth century”.

BACKGROUND TO BEETHOVEN’S THIRD SYMPHONY – “EROICA”

And now, back to Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony. Completed in 1804 and first performed in 1805, Beethoven originally dedicated the third symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte. Beethoven believed Napoleon embodied the democratic and anti-monarchical ideals of the French Revolution.

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In autumn of 1804, however, Beethoven withdrew his dedication of the third symphony to Napoleon, lest it cost the composer’s fee paid him by a royal patron. So, Beethoven re-dedicated his third symphony to Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz – nonetheless, despite such a bread-and-butter consideration, the politically idealistic Beethoven titled the work “Buonaparte”.  Later, about the composer’s response to Napoleon having proclaimed himself Emperor of the French (14 May 1804), Beethoven’s secretary, Ferdinand Ries wrote:.

“In writing this symphony, Beethoven had been thinking of Buonaparte, but Buonaparte while he was First Consul. At that time Beethoven had the highest esteem for him, and compared him to the greatest consuls of Ancient Rome. Not only I, but many of Beethoven’s closer friends, saw this symphony on his table, beautifully copied in manuscript, with the word “Buonaparte” inscribed at the very top of the title-page and “Ludwig van Beethoven” at the very bottom …

I was the first to tell him the news that Buonaparte had declared himself Emperor, whereupon he broke into a rage and exclaimed, “So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of Man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!” Beethoven went to the table, seized the top of the title-page, tore it in half and threw it on the floor. The page had to be recopied, and it was only now that the symphony received the title Sinfonia eroica.”

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UPDATE March 24, 2017

MOZART REQUIEM AT PHOENIX SYMPHONY HALL

Last night, Elizabeth and I attended a wonderful performance of the “Mozart Requiem” by the Phoenix Symphony and Chorus.

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UPDATE APRIL 2, 2017

“March Madness” Phoenix-style on April Fools’ Day

BEETHOVEN’S 9TH SQUEEZED IN BETWEEN “FINAL FOUR” AND ROCK MUSIC FESTIVAL

Our first “park and ride” experience on Phoenix light rail system

We expected this Saturday night to be a madhouse in downtown Phoenix.  The greedy city fathers – or morons, take your pick – managed to schedule at least three major events on the same day at about the same time in an already crowded city center of a major metropolitan area that’s home to nearly 5 million people.

First, and the biggest madness of them all was the culmination of NCAA’s “March Madness” basketball tournament – the Final Four.  Both semifinal games were played on Saturday, April 1.  (Never mind that “March Madness” has now spilled over into April). 🙂

Second, there was a related Music Festival featuring major rock bands.

And then there was Beethoven’s 9th and the most majestic symphony being performed on Saturday evening by the Phoenix Symphony and Chorus. Beethoven would have felt rather small in comparison to the crowds that the other two New World Order crowd opiates attracted. But what Beethoven and the Phoenix Symphony lacked in numbers they more than made up in class.

It was a magnificent performance. What made it so special for Elizabeth and me was that only a week ago we had a chance to see and hear Mozart’s magnificent Requiem at the same venue performed by the same orchestral and choral ensembles.

As we were walking out after last night’s performance, I asked Elizabeth, “which one did you like better?”

“Both,” was her answer.

Indeed. They are both so very different and yet so fabulous.

OUR FIRST PHOENIX LIGHT RAIL EXPERIENCE

As a result of all the warnings about possible overcrowding in downtown Phoenix, Elizabeth and I decided to take the Leaf on its first desert outing and park it at the Camelback Rd light rail station. We took the light rail train, which is really a tram, from there to downtown Phoenix. And back, of course, after the concert.

It was an interesting experience. Certainly a lot cheaper than driving. With gas and parking, out trips to the Phoenix Symphony Hall probably cost about $35. Last night, we spent $4 on two return tickets. And left ZERO carbon footprint for the night since we used the Leaf (our electric car) to get to the train station.

But, of course, there was also waiting and crowding in the tram car on the way back. Still, it was a good experience.

Phoenix rail

 

 

 

Featured

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI

We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1.  For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area. Here are some shots of both…

First, my morning walk from our condo to the beach…

Our “final walkthrough” of the Rainbow shower taken midday…

And our late afternoon back at our Kamaole Sands beach.

UPDATE MAR 4, 2017

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 4

Mar 4, 2017
We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1. For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area.
Here are some scenes from our morning walk along Kamaole Sands beach.

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 5

Mar 5, 2017
On Saturday (Mar 4), we went on a whale watching sunset sailing cruise on the Gemini catamaran off the coast of Kaanapali. Alas, due to a technical glitch with my waterproof camera card reader, those pictures are still trapped on my camera memory card. I may have to wait to get to AZ to retrieve them.
On Sunday (Mar 5), Elizabeth made her final purchase at Kaahumanu Mall – a pair of Hawaiian earrings – which she asked me to record on camera. There was also a Hula show going on in the background.

And in the evening, we went to a lovely dinner party by our friend Rada Kovilic who has a condo in the same resort where we are now staying – Kamaole Sands. Her balcony provided a perfect vantage point for another beautiful Maui sunset.

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 6

Mar 6, 2017
We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1. For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area.
Here are some scenes from outside our condo and from our morning walk along the Kamaole Park shore. We discovered here what is probably Kihei’s best surfing spot, right next to the small boat harbor. It looked like a smaller version of Ho’okipa Point in our old neighborhood on the north shore of Maui.

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 7

Mar 4, 2017
We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1. For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area.
On Saturday, Mar 4, we went whale-watching aboard the catamaran “Gemini,” which we boarded on Kaanapali Beach in West Maui. Here are some pictures from that wonderful outing.

Elizabeth and I have gone sailing and whale watching many times before, but never, ever have we seen to many full breaches by these 20-ton (40,000-pound) giants as on Saturday afternoon. It felt as they the whales were waving their watery goodbyes to us.

Just to give you an idea of how bit the Humpback whales are, some of these guys you are seeing in the above pictures are as long as 7 African elephants standing next to each other.

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 8

Mar 7, 2017
We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1. For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area.
On Tuesday, Mar 7, Elizabeth and I drove up to the 10,000-ft Haleakala (volcano) summit for our final goodbye to Maui. We fly back to Arizona tomorrow (Mar 8).
The weather was perfect all the way up and during an hour or so we spent at the summit. And then just as we headed down the mountain, the clouds and rain moved it. They stayed with us all the way down till we got to lower Kula. We might as well have been driving through a soup, the fog was so thick.
We kept thanking God all the way down for this miracle – of holding off the bad weather until we had a chance to say our high level goodbyes.
By the way, Haleakala is the Fire vortex of Mother Earth and thus a very powerful masculine energy center. On Saturday, however, our wonderful sailing to see the whales and Watery goodbyes we received from them provided the counter balance – the feminine energy farewell.
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UPDATE MAR 8, 2017

OUR FINAL MAUI BEACH SHOT

 
I don’t know how we managed to do this, because it has been raining most of the day over most of Maui today, but if you look at our final farewell shot taken around noon at Kamaole beach in Kihei/Wailea, you would get the impression that there is nothing but sunshine and surf on this magical island.
 
Goodbye Maui! We love you.
Last Maui beach shot 3-8-17
Featured

RAINBOW BOOKENDS, GREAT WHITE GIANTS RETURN TO MAUI

RAINBOW BOOKENDS REAPPEAR AT THE RAINBOW SHOWER, MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN EVER

Clear sky rainbows in the morning, first ever post-sunset rainbow in the evening

Also, TOPSY-TURVY WEATHER IN MAUI, EXTRAORDINARY CLOUD

It happened again today. Just like it did three days ago – on Sunday, Jan 22. Both ends of this day at the Rainbow Shower were bracketed by rainbows. Only this time, they were even more beautiful.

The first ones this morning were rare clear sky rainbows. The mist and sun kept dancing with each all day. By late afternoon, more rainbows started to appear. And this evening, I witnessed something quite remarkable, possibly for the first time.

The sun had already set. The Rainbow Shower house and lawn were already enveloped in darkness as you can see from the first two photos. Yet the sun’s rays were still reaching up high and the sky and setting the clouds on fire as well as the rainbow.

It was an awe-inspiring, amazing sight. Feeling blessed? You betcha.

So I ran into the house get the camera and share it with you. Enjoy!

MAUI’S GREAT WHITE GIANTS ARE BACK (select photos)

Today I had to run some errands in town. On my way, I could not resist and had to stop at Ho’okipa Point for another look at Maui’s Great White Giants that are pounding against the lava rocks at one of the world’s most famous surfing spots – Ho’okipa Point. But with the waves at about 25 to 30 feet, no one was crazy enough to try to surf on them.

MAUI’S GREAT WHITE GIANTS ARE BACK – a 1-min video by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Jan 25, 2017

Here’s a 1-min video consisting of 25 “live shots” – with my background music – Banana Boat from the Caribbean. 🙂

https://youtu.be/7-QshdLAJyU [Youtube version]

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HOOKIPA PHOTO ALBUM

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UPDATE JAN 27, 2017

A 1-min video by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Jan 27, 2017 – filmed around 4PM

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Just got back from a quick outing to Paia. Stopped at Ho’okipa Point on my way. Beautiful afternoon. What attracted me most of all was the scent of the ocean. Love it. So pure and healing especially with light trade breezes like today’s.

The surf is now “surfable” – about 6-10 ft waves. And there were lots of surfers starting their weekend on water.

Check it out…

Direct

Youtube link: https://youtu.be/XhrQqixcbdI

PHOTO ALBUM

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UPDATE FEB 5, 2017

TOPSY-TURVY WEATHER IN MAUI

Normally, we get trade winds blowing from the northeast. Today, however, we are experiencing strong “anti-trade” winds from the southwest.

No, this is not a political anti-TPP statement. 🙂 But who knows, it could be. You never know what Mother Nature has up her sleeve.

How strong are the winds?

Not very. according to the official Weather.com. Only 22 mph right now. But the gusts must be much stronger. Because for the first time ever (!), they have literally opened my bedroom sliding screen door. Twice!

At first, I did not believe it was the wind. I thought I had forgotten to close it. But when it happened the second time…

So now I propped it up a little – using my university crest as a door stopper. 🙂 No offense meant. It’s just that I needed something narrow to wedge on the track behind it.

The wind is almost never an event unto its own. Like an advance scout, it precedes the arrival of the main army. Tomorrow, we are expecting rain. So it goes…

FINALLY, AN OFFICIAL WIND ALERT

Better late than never?

Now they tell us… after the wind opened this door for a third time, and blew off the (heavy) top of my spa. And it also knocked down my wheel barrow. Here’s a weather update I just got:
“SOUTHWEST WINDS WILL INCREASE… REACHING 25 TO 35 MPH IN SOME SPOTS… WITH LOCALIZED GUSTS UP TO 50 MPH…. A STRONG AND FAST MOVING COLD FRONT WILL APPROACH THE ISLANDS TONIGHT… WITH INCREASING SOUTHWEST WINDS EXPECTED AHEAD OF THE FRONT.”
Talk about closing the barn door after the horse is gone, I could have told them this morning the winds were stronger than the 22 mph the Weather,com said.
I just hope and pray that we don’t lose power or internet. Knock on wood, so far so good (rhyme intended) 🙂
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UPDATE FEB 6, 2017

EXTRAORDINARY CLOUD HOVERS OVER RAINBOW SHOWER FOR ALMOST 2 HOURS IN GALE FORCE WINDS

I have never seen anything like it before. Last night, an enormous cloud that took up 2/3 of the sky, shaped like a giant whale or a blimp, hovered above my house for nearly two hours.

The head was pointing to the west. The tail was in the east. The light you see which looks like the whale’s eye is actually the moon trying to shine through.

I snapped this picture when I first saw it a little after 10 PM without expecting much. I had never taken a shot before with my new iPhone camera in complete darkness. Then I went back to watch the rest of a movie. When I came back out about an hour-and-a-half later, the cloud was still there.

What made this phenomenon so extraordinary is that at the same time we were (and still are) buffeted by gale force winds that blew off the top of my spa and opened the sliding screen door – 3 times! Eventually, I had to tape it down to the frame using masking tape.

Yet the giant cloud was still there, like a massive immovable object impervious to gale force winds. Amazing! Wonder what it meant?

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 * * *

UPDATE FEB 7, 2017

LITTLE BLONDE “CRABS” PLAYING ON LAVA ROCKS

This morning, thanks to a real estate showing of my property, I did three things on a spur of a moment that I don’t usually do.

First, before I even cleaned up, I spent an hour raking and mowing the debris from the strong winds in the last two days have brought down on the lawn.

Second, I had breakfast. Well, I mean – a real breakfast, a veggie omelette at Colleen’s in Haiku town center – not my usual, a few grapes and half a banana.

Third, I drove down to Ho’okipa Point to watch the surfers on this beautifully clear morning. The forecast was rain, by the way. 🙂

You can see for yourself now how great the weather is this morning. It is rare that one can see the West Maui Mountains. Usually they are enveloped in clouds. The surf was about 10-15 ft with an occasional 20-footer.

 

 HAPPY FAMILY SCENE

But the most interesting scene was watching this family down on the rocks. Their two kids, a toddler and a baby still in diapers, played on the lava rocks like two little blonde crabs. 🙂

But one or both of the parents kept a close eye on them. The mother eventually took both kids into that little basin which the ocean had carved out in the lava rocks like a bathtub. Of course, she took off the diaper first. Not her own. 🙂

BACK AT THE SYMPHONY, ONE LAST TIME, AND AT TOM’S THUMB

Final Concert of the 2016/17 Season

BACK AT THE SYMPHONY, ONE LAST TIME

The final concert of the Phoenix Symphony 2016/17 season that Elizabeth and I will be able to attend (we will be away from the country starting in late May) was a great success. Two-thirds of it anyway.

The most successful part was Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. It was greeted by a thunderous applause and a standing ovation the crowd gave the Korean-born pianist Sung Chang after his performance.

Make that two standing ovations. After the second one, he played an encore – Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca” – yes, the very first piece I played the other day on my Steinway to welcome it to its new desert home. Only Chang changed it in parts to make it sound like Gershwin music. So you could say we heard Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca alla Gershwin” last night. 🙂

This magnificent piano piece, which tests the mettle of even the most accomplished pianists, was originally conceived in 1830 when Liszt was only 19. Lest we forget, Liszt was regarded as the greatest pianist of his time, some think possibly the best in history of music.

Liszt seems to have completed the his first piano concerto in 1849, yet made further adjustments in 1853. It was first performed at Weimar (Germany) in 1855, with the composer at the piano and Hector Berlioz conducting. Right from the start, it was a smashing success as it was last night.

Liszt’s concerto was sandwiched in last night’s program between the two Russian composers – Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.

The concert opened with another a orchestral piece by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy. The orchestration and nuisances of this music are so rich that they have been used in many movies. Here are just some of them:

Columbo, Kim Possible, The Jazz Singer (1927), Wayne’s World, Animaniacs, Freakazoid, Pinky and the Brain, Road Rovers, Taz-Mania, Tiny Toons, Scrubs, Seeing Double, The Ren and Stimpy Show, South Park, Clueless, A Christmas Story, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Moonraker, SpongeBob SquarePants, Pushing Daisies, Sesame Street, El Chavo, The Three Musketeers, among others.

The third piece on last night’s program was Stravinsky’s “Petrushka.” Like most of the 20th century music, it did not do anything for me, even though it was a very difficult and intricate piece for an orchestra to perform. After the performance, Elizabeth told me she felt the same way.

Which is why I said that last night’s concert was a great success 2/3 of the way.

PS: Elizabeth is wearing a dress she bought at Bloomingdale’s in New York last week.

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UPDATE APR 30, 2017

SHE CAN DO IT ALL!

Last night, Elizabeth and I attended a wonderful performance of the Phoenix Symphony at the downtown Symphony Hall.

Today, around noon, we did something we rarely do. We treated ourselves to a delicious brunch at the newly opened Eg N’ Joe breakfast-lunch restaurant in our neighborhood (http://eggnjoe.com/)

Elizabeth had something I have never seen her eat before – a “German pancake.” It is an oven-roasted creation in the shape of a big bowl with various fruity treats inside (strawberries in her case). I had blackberry crepes, which were also delicious.

Well, after that, we needed to do something aggressive to try to work off the extra calories. So we hit the Tom’s Thumb trail on the north side of the McDowell Mtns. It was only the second time Elizabeth has attempted that steep and slippery hike. And she did great. She made it to the 3,100 ft elevation. And back to the trailhead, of course.

A WOMAN WHO CAN DO IT ALL! 🙂

ANOTHER GOOD FRIDAY PILGRIMAGE ON CALVARY HILL ARIZONA

Today, I did my annual Good Friday pilgrimage on Calvary Hill Arizona.  It is a 6-mile hike with an elevation difference of 1,600 feet, plus another 6-mile bike ride (see the map).

It took me 3 hours to do this bike-hike–bike round trip pilgrimage from my Scottsdale home.  The temperatures were in the upper 80s, which is normal for this time of the year.  But for some reason I felt quite tired at the end.  It must be that darn desert pollen this year and the allergies that it is causing.

Anyway, I paid my respects to Yeshua as I do on every Good Friday.

“This is my church service,” I explained later on to my son-in-law who is visiting here from Vienna, Austria, with my daughter and their four children this Easter week.

Four years ago on Good Friday, Master Sananda (Yeshua, Jesus) took me to a place in the McDowell Mountains above Scottsdale that resembled the Calvary Hill in Jerusalem on which he was crucified two millennia ago.  And he left for me to find there some very special sacraments (see my 2013 Desert Quest (PDF))

Ever since that Good Friday 2013, I have been returning to this holy place in the Arizona desert whenever I needed Yeshua’s counsel and guidance. Over time, I identified on this rough mountain trail the 14 stations of the cross. In the fall 2013, I even created the music I play while on this pilgrimage.  It is timed to coincide thematically and geographically with each Station of the Cross.

 

On my way down, I also stopped and prayed at this beautiful Pachamama rock that resembles a Native American shaman with a buffalo spirit inside. I discovered it originally in 2008, just under the Calvary Hill summit.

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SIZZLING CINCO DE MAYO 2017

Elizabeth and I just got back from a drive to the west side of Phoenix where we got a Cinco de Mayo cake at the Rancho Mercado, a wonderful Mexican store. (no, this is not our actual cake but it gives you an idea).

The main event, however, happened when we got back in the I-17 to drive back home. The temperature gauge on our car read 111F. Yes, I kid you not – 111F (44C) in early May!

Even for an old desert rat like myself, this is some kind of a record. I have never seen temperatures this high in the Phoenix area for Cinco de Mayo. Even back home in North Scottsdale, the temperature was 107F (42C).

By the way, Cinco De Mayo is a Mexican holiday which commemorates the Mexican Army’s surprising victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. But here in the southwestern United States, it is yet another excuse to party, drink and sing and be merry.

So Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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ECLECTIC FRIDAY: MEXICAN MERCADO, BIKE WEEK AND OPERA

What an eclectic day we had yesterday! (Friday)

First, Elizabeth took me to a wonderful Mexican market on the west side of Phoenix. The “Los Altos Rancho Mercado” was everything its title promised. And more. It was like being in Mexico.  Quite an international experience.

Of course, we sampled some things and also ordered a custom-made cake for a double birthday party we will be having this coming week as my eldest daughter, her husband and my four grandchildren will be coming to visit us from Vienna, Austria.

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Second, we then drove all the way up to Cave Creek to look for something quite innocuous – a particular lamp shade Elizabeth wanted. Instead, we landed smack in the middle of a huge motorcycle crowd. It was the annual Bike Week in Cave Creek.

There were thousands of bikes and probably several thousand bikers who clogged up the main drag of this western town that still looks like it is just leaving the 19th century.

Third, in the evening, we attended the Arizona Opera performance of Rossini’s “Cinderella” at the Phoenix Symphony Hall. And what a zoo it was!  The traffic, congestion and the crowds were WORSE than last weekend during the Final Four tournament in Phoenix.

As it turns out, the city morons once again overbooked overlapping events. Last night, the AZ Diamondbacks were swinging in Major League Baseball. The Phoenix Suns were saying goodbye to their NBA season. And there was also some kind of a dance event at the Herberger Theater. All at basically the same time and withing a few hundred yards of year other.  Insanity!

It took us forever to get there and park. We just made it as the opera was opening. And it took us also forever to leave even though it was nearly 11 PM.

As for the opera, Rossini’s “Cinderella” opened exactly 200 years ago (in 1817).

Stand by for more for an interesting story on the history of this opera, and Rossini’s relationship with Beethoven.

Great Art vs. Popular Music

ROSSINI AND BEETHOVEN: HOW GREAT GERMAN MUSIC MASTER KILLED ROSSINI’S ZEAL TO COMPOSE

artvscomm

“Since hearing Beethoven’s Third Symphony, Eroica, Rossini had been moved to meet Beethoven and had tried several times through a few people to meet the composer. It seems most likely that Antonio Salieri was the culprit (so to speak 😉 of setting up the meeting, since he had played violin at the 1813 premiere of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, and was a friend and former teacher of Beethoven.”

The most popular composer in Beethoven’s final years, even in Vienna where he lived, was not Beethoven himself but Gioachino Rossini, whose light-as-a-feather smash-hit comic operas, such as The Barber of Seville (1816) – all laughs, saucy farce and hummable tunes – were arguably closer to the general public’s idea of an ‘Ode to Joy’.

When Rossini arrived at Beethoven’s tiny flat in Vienna, he traveled with his complete entourage of hanger-oner (like the groupies in today’s rock bands), servants and admirers. Rossini clambered up the rickety stairs to Beethoven’s tiny flat. Her was stunned at the poverty and squalor in which the greatest living composer at the time was living.

Moved by compassion, he offered to help Beethoven financially. And paid a compliment to Rossini that wounded the Italian composer to the core. Here’s an excerpt about that conversation:

“38-year-old Rossini succeeded in meeting Ludwig van Beethoven, who was then aged 51, deaf, cantankerous and in failing health. Communicating in writing, Beethoven noted: “Ah, Rossini. So you’re the composer of The Barber of Seville. I congratulate you.  I love your operatic comedies. Your music will be played as long as Italian opera exists. Never try to write anything else but your operatic comedies. Serious music would do violence to your soul.”

Great Art vs. Popular Music

it was probably easier for Rossini to gain a larger following, because his Barber of Seville and other light comic operas were easily digestible, easy on the ears kinds of works. The public could “get” them in one setting, hum them on the way home, and then easily forget them as they went upon their daily lives – much like pop music “ditties,” as Irving Berlin and Cole Porter called them a century later.

When Rossini reached the age of 38, he had already written 38 operas. He was a big star akin to the most popular rock musicians today. Yet he suddenly quit composing. It is unclear whether or not Beethoven’s remark played a part in this decision. But it is a fact Rossini lived out the rest of his life without writing a single operatic score.

So maybe Great Art won over commercial successes of Popular Music in the end.