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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

“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.
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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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FAREWELL TO ARIZONA!

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A VIDEO MESSAGE BY BOB ALTZAR DJURDJEVIC

Today, Aug 22, I recorded a video message as my farewell to Arizona from this long, hot summer.Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 1.40.38 PM

On Monday, I fly back to Maui. Elizabeth is staying on longer to spend more time with her kids and grandkids.

So without further ado, here’s the message…

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Bob 2015-08-22 at 11.12.45 AM IMG_4340 IMG_4341 Bob 2015-08-22 at 11.12.19 AM

UPDATE AUG 23, 2015…

Pinnacle Peak – from the ground up

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Pinnacle Peak header

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TRIP TO SANTA FE OPERA: “SALOME” AND MORE

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

August 10-13, 2015

TRIP TO SANTA FE OPERA: SEDONA HIKE, MISSED “HABOOB” IN PHOENIX

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IMG_4334 Two Coffee Pot panorama shots, taken an hour-and-a-half apart…

Aug 13, 2015 – Part 4: SEDONA & PHOENIX “HABOOB”

We did the Teapot Trail round trip in two hours, roughly between 8:50AM and 10:50AM.  When we started, the temperature was around 85F. returned to the trailhead, it was 96F. Not surprisingly, we were the only car left in the parking lot. 🙂

Elizabeth was a real trooper to have done it all the way, especially as she is not a regular hiker.

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After we got to about a half way point under the Coffee Pot, I told her we can turn around and go back anytime. I did not want her to overexert herself.

“Just say when,” I told her.

IMG_4330She never did. Not until we got to the end of the Teapot Trail, way down in the valley where it hits the Soldiers Pass trail, where I took this picture (right).

As I said, a trooper. 🙂

Maybe that’s because we were both working off a pizza from last night in Sedona. Which had been preceded by a sopapilla for Elizabeth, the day before in Albuquerque. And followed by a Belgian waffle this morning at our Sedona hotel (shared between the two of us).

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The above two picture were taken at roughly the same spot on the trail nearly two years apart. My longtime Sedona friend, Heather, also an Inca shaman and I had nicknamed the magnificent mountain range you see in the background the “Guardians” (of Sedona). It is interesting to compare the big difference in light and shadows between late October and mid-August.

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Sedona10_18_08 011On our way back, Elizabeth was up for another challenge under the Coffee Pot. During our first hike together on this trail in Oct 2008, she climbed up on the ledge below this rock formation. You can see her doing it in the right photo. So she wanted to try it again.

It was hard, but she did it. And as she usually does whenever she accomplishes something physically challenging, she raised her arms and yelled “Geronimo!”

I have no idea when she uses that particular expression. And neither does she. But that’s just what she does.  And then she slid down the big red rock with ease, practically on her butt (middle picture) above. 🙂

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Going back was hard – for both of us.  Elizabeth was taking frequent breaks in the shade of Juniper bushes. At about 3/4-point of the trail, while sitting on a pile of rocks, she asked, “are we almost there?”

We next went to the nearby Safeway store to hydrate – a jug of milk for me; a frappuccino for Elizabeth. And then headed back home to Scottsdale, where it was 111F upon arrival! And it has stayed that way or hotter all weekend.

Aug 11, 2015 – PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE “HABOOB”

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A “DUST TSUNAMI”

This is apparently what Elizabeth and I had missed while attending the “Salome” (opera) performance in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Aug 11 – a desert “Haboob.”

Haboobs are dust storms that travel across the desert like a tsunami across the ocean. Except that these are 2,000-foot high “tsunamis” engulf everything in sight.

The odd thing is – when we got back home yesterday, there was no evidence of any extra dust or wind debris around our home. It’s as if all this sand and dust had vaporized in the 111F heat.

Weird…

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Here’s a report about it…

VIDEO: Haboob windstorm blankets Phoenix with choking red dust http://www.today.com/video/watch-haboob-windstorm-blankets-phoenix-with-choking-red-dust-502799939853

Meanwhile, this is what was happening in Tucson that same evening…

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Also see…

THE END

TRIP TO SANTA FE OPERA: ALBUQUERQUE AND SEDONA

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Aug 12, 2015 – Part 3: ALBUQUERQUE AND SEDONA

When Elizabeth and I travel, we rarely make definitive plans for each day. We only put major stakes in the ground.  In this case, the Santa Fe opera. The rest, we improvise.

So when we woke up the morning after (the opera), we had no idea where we would go next.  Before we left on this trip, I had hinted to Elizabeth we might go up to Durango and Mesa Verde again (see Mesa Verde: Playing with Windharmonic Orchestra, June 15, 2012).

“But I don’t really feel like going back there again,” I said. “Why don’t we just go to Albuquerque, see what there is to see in the Old Town, and then head back to Sedona for a pizza dinner and a hike tomorrow morning?”

Elizabeth agreed. So that’s what we did.

So here are first some pictures from the Old Town Albuquerque, one of the oldest cities in American (founded in 1706 – see the plaques).

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Elizabeth tried to do some shopping at this Casa de Armijo (2nd from left) while I wondered around the square enjoying a beautiful day and learning about Albuquerque’s history.

Then Elizabeth developed a sudden craving for a Sopapilla at her favorite restaurant here – Little Anita (she used to live in Albuquerque a long time ago).

“Sopapilla and a pizza? Isn’t that bad and worse?” I thought but didn’t say anything.

You see, we both love pizzas. But since nowadays we gain weight from just looking at one, we only eat it once or twice a year at Sedona’s Oak Creek Brewery.  And that’s what we were planning to do later on this evening.

Anyway, Elizabeth enjoyed her luncheon snack and then we hit the road back west toward Flagstaff and Sedona.

On our drive from Flagstaff to Sedona, our new Honda Hybrid must have set some sort of a record.  The car dashboard registered 104.3 miles per gallon!

Of course, it was mostly downhill. But still. Not many people can boast that kind of mileage.  Except for our Leaf in Maui, of course. With a fully electric car, our mileage per gallon there is INFINITY. 🙂

Anyway, here are some photos of paintings Elizabeth wanted me to take during our walk through Tlaquapaque after that scrumptious pizza dinner.

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Also see…

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

TRIP TO SANTA FE OPERA: “SALOME”

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Aug 11 (PM), 2015 – Part 2: SANTA FE PLAZA, OPERA – “SALOME”

We arrived in Santa Fe just before lunchtime on Aug 11. After checking into our hotel, we drove on to the Santa Fe Plaza, the heart of this lovely New Mexico city.  While Elizabeth went on to shop for some jewelry, I just wondered around to pass the time, not expecting to buy anything. Bob 8-11-15

Well, surprise, surprise… I found this used-looking but actually new leather hat that seemed to fit the bill, my head and the ambiance perfectly. By the time Elizabeth finished buying her jewelry, I was already wearing it, having relegated my baseball cap into the hat store shopping bag.

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And then I posed with it for Elizabeth at the corner of the Santa Fe Plaza park.

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Elizabeth and I normally don’t eat lunch. But this time, I could not resist a French crepe stuffed with three different kinds of fresh fruit and Nutella spread, adorned with whipped cream and ice cream.  The waitress seemed disbelieving that I could eat it all. But I had no such doubts. Crepes are my all-time favorite dessert.  Besides, this was going to be my dinner, too, considering we were off to the opera later on this evening.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth got a Carnita from a Mexican food vendor at the corner of the park.  And so everybody was happy. Me with French/European food, Elizabeth with a Mexican dish.

SANTA FE OPERA – “SALOME”

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Since this was our first visit to the Santa Fe Oper, we got there with plenty of time to spare, so we can look around and check out all its nooks and crannies.

And here’s what we saw…

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The actual “Salome” opera was great as far as the music and the ambiance goes. But the lead actress/singer was a dismal dancer. Stiff as a board. And since the “Dance of Seven Veils” is supposed tobe the high point of the entire opera, and this scene’s sensuality (and supposed nudity) was the reason the opera was initially banned in Vienna after it first opened in the early 1900s, the visual aspect of the show was a flop. Surely, nowadays, they could have gotten a performer who can both sing and dance.

Oh well… the music more than made up for it. Overall, it was a wonderful experience.

Also see…

 

TO BE CONTINUED…