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


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


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.


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



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).



Sedona header 6-04-15


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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UPDATE AUG 23, 2015…

Pinnacle Peak – from the ground up

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Pinnacle Peak header

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August 10-13, 2015



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.


Phoenix 8-11-15

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.


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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…




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 OrchestraJune 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…





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.



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…




Tamaya_Panorama 8-11-15


Everybody knows that Phoenix is a desert city.  But not everybody realizes that Phoenix is also a cultural desert in summertime.  I have not spent a full summer here since 2007.  So I had forgotten how the desert heat dries out the soul and not just the body. I can take the heat but not a life without music and arts.

Enter Santa Fe opera. Elizabeth and I have been to many of the world’s most famous operatic and concert venues. But we had never attended a performance at Santa Fe opera.  Ergo, Richard Strauss’ “Salome” on Tuesday night was the primary reason for this trip.

Of course, as always, many other interesting, and at times exciting, things happened as well. So read on…

Aug 10-11 (AM), 2015 – Part 1: PETRIFIED FOREST, TAMAYA RESORT

On our drive from Scottsdale to Albuquerque, New Mexico, we stopped at a rock shop in Holbrook and the Petrified Forest National Park.

The last time we were there was in Oct 2013. All national parks were closed while our Washington leeches argued with each other about who would get a bigger slice of the loot they call income tax.

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Anyway, the weather was overcast which made for a pleasant drive even if that meant the petrified wood colors weren’t the brightest.


After having dinner in Albuquerque, we got to the Tamaya Resort just before sunset. This was my third and Elizabeth’s second visit to this delightful place, hidden in the desert, about 30 miles northwest of Albuquerque.

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The next morning, we went for our usual walk through the beautiful Sycamore forest that brackets both banks of Rio Grande.

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Everything was fine until I pointed out to Elizabeth the trail marks that a snake leaves in the dust. From there on, she was on pins and needles. And not in vain.

Because soon afterward, Elizabeth was the first one to spot about a 4-ft snake crossing the trail right in front of us. She ran back while I tried to nudge the snake to complete the crossing. Tamaya NM map

“Don’t worry, this is not a rattlesnake,” I told Elizabeth who hid behind me as we were passing the spot where the snake had been moments earlier.

The posted signs warned of rattlesnakes in the area. Which is probably what contributed to Elizabeth being spooked so much.  I figure this was probably a Bull snake. They range from 48 to 72 inches in length and are active during the day.  They feed on rodents not humans.  So the two of us would have been a little to much even for this Bull to swallow. 🙂

But in a battle between reason and fear, the former will almost always lose.  So we spent the rest of our walk with Elizabeth jumping up and down over every sound in the bush, and even a little rabbit.

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As a result, I  had a hard time talking Elizabeth into posing here near the famous Rio Grande river. She kept looking over her shoulders as if a snake would morph into a giant dinosaur and jump out grab her from behind. 🙂

So I don’t know how she managed that angelic smile. Must be an actress lurking behind the facade of an artist. 🙂

The mountain in the background is also famous. Its name is Sandia. Which means Watermelon in Spanish. Guess that’s the color the mountain sometimes takes on at sunset.  Such as in this file photo…


Before we left Tamaya, I purchased this beautiful butterfly sculpture (below left). It now joins the three other butterflies at our home, the Eagle’s Nest in Scottsdale, which flew in there in December 2013.

Butterflies 8-11-15


Also see…