Featured

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)

IMG_1325

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?

IMG_1329

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.

IMG_1331

 

AIDA TRIUMPHAL MARCH

Apr 23, 2017

 

Featured

“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 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.

IMG_1302

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

IMG_1311

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).

 

Featured

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.

Featured

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 Sándor 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.

Beethoven_Napoleon

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.”

IMG_1221

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.

* * *

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.
IMG_1197

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]

* * *

HOOKIPA PHOTO ALBUM

 * * *

UPDATE JAN 27, 2017

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

hookipa-1-27-17-web

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

  * * *

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) 🙂
imgres.png

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?

img_0991

 * * *

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. 🙂

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.

 * * *

 

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.

IMG_1334

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.

 

 

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA – MY HOME TOWN AS SEEN THROUGH MY AND VISITORS’ EYES

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA – MY HOME TOWN AS SEEN THROUGH MY AND VISITORS’ EYES
Scottsdale, Arizona is my home town. Well, as much as any place on this planet is, I suppose. I have traveled millions of miles around the world and have lived in so many places and countries that I feel I have earned the right to choose my “home town.” And I choose Scottsdale.
How can I be sure?
Well, my kids grew up in the desert. And because I have always returned to it.
I have tried to leave Arizona several times. First, in 1996 when I bought a beautiful 10-acre property in Western Australia (see the Bolt Hole – (https://www.facebook.com/BoltHoleWA/). It was pure magic that lasted 9 years. But I eventually sold the property in 2005 and returned HOME to Scottsdale.
The day after 9/11, when there was no air travel in this country, I hit the road in my 1992 Infiniti in search of a new home. I drove through 10 western states, and even looked in Alberta, Canada. But on my way back, when I turned off the I-40 at Flagstaff and heading down toward the desert, my heart fluttered. I was coming back home.
And so I stayed. Until 2009. That’s when Elizabeth and I moved to Maui – another Garden of Eden in Paradise on Earth. That adventure lasted 8 years. And only a few days ago – March 9 to be exact – we returned HOME to Scottsdale.
So you see… that’s why Scottsdale is my home town of my heart’s desire.

THE WAY VISITORS SEE US

Now, it is always interesting to see how other see us. Like the winter visitors to Scottsdale, for example, the veritable “snow birds.”
As if reading my thoughts on the subject, my longtime Canadian friend from Ontario sent me a link to this travel story:author-pic
Ten Reasons Why Snowbirds Need to Fly to Scottsdale, Arizona – https://goo.gl/Yg919V (by Amandalina Letterio)
To which I want to add the 11th – HEAVENLY SCENTS. But only during the month of March.
Citrus blossoms at this time of the year give Scottsdale a heavenly scent. There is nothing quite like it. You just have to experience it to fall in love with it, especially in the districts like Arcadia, where the citrus trees abound. And I guarantee you will want to keep coming back, year after year.
Cactus League? (which also takes place in March).
Nah. That’s for the baseball jocks. I used to like it decades ago when you can lounge around on the grass at the old Scottsdale stadium on Osborn St, and watch the likes of Barry Bonds do their magic only a few feet away from you.
But now, with the Talking Stick Ballpark that looks like a smaller version of a major league stadium, forget it. Elizabeth and I only go there when somebody buys us a ticket and a meal. Like my AZ bank did last year.
Anyway, Scottsdale is the place to be in the United States during the month of March. There is nothing quite like it.