Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall Baseball

The Diamondbacks may be out of the running for the World Series, but that doesn't mean we Arizona baseball fans are without some fun. From early October to mid-November of each year, we have Fall Ball.

Fall Ball is great for a relaxed, close-up view of up-and-coming players. Each of the 30 Major League teams sends 30 prospects to the valley. They're divided up into 6 teams: the Phoenix Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas, Surprise Rafters, Peoria Saguaros, Scottsdale Scorpions, and Mesa Solar Sox.

They play in training stadiums that are used for Spring Training in March. You can enjoy a nice, relaxed atmosphere with nearly perfect weather most days. Since the average attendance is fewer than 300 people, you can sit almost anywhere in the ball park. Some days we sit behind home plate, close enough to see all the action and here the players when they talk to each other (and sometimes say not-so-nice things to themselves).

Games are every day but Sunday. The season started on October 9, and the last game is on November 17. Games are scheduled either at noon, 12:35 PM, or 7:05 PM. Individual tickets are $6 ($5 for seniors or those under 17). If you want to buy season tickets, they're only $75 ($65 for seniors or under 17). You can also get a season ticket for the whole family (up to 6 members) for $105.

This year, the Chinese National baseball team will be playing a game with each team - it's part of their training for the Beijing 2008 Olympics games. Team USA will also be playing! These games are a chance to relax, see good baseball, and maybe get an early look at a future star!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Arizona Cook Book - Yum!

A friend found this book at a garage sale in California recently and sent it to me. What fun! This spiral-bound paperback claims to contain authentic recipes of Indian, Mexican, and Western origin. I think that in this case, authentic is accurate.

Let's see, what shall we try? In the Indian section, there's and interesting recipe for Blood Sausage. All I need is 4 cups of sheep blood, 1 1/2 cups of sheep fat, and a clean stomach (to contain the sausage - not mine). Or how about using that cup of acorn meal you have lying around to prepare some delicious acorn stew?

There's a whole section of recipes featuring pinto beans, including delicious Pinto Bean Fudge! Yep, there is the usual ingredient list, with one odd inclusion: 1/2 cup strained cooked pinto beans.

I was initially alarmed when I noticed a recipe for Pyracantha Jelly. I didn't realize that pyracantha berries were edible - a little research confirms they are not poisonous after all.

Under Beef Bounties, the adventurous chef can try Beef Earth Roast. The authors provide an 8-step instruction for "an economical, easy and unusual way to feed a large group of people." Instruction #1: Dig a pit 3' deep and 3' wide. Length depends on how much meat you cook. (A 10-foot pit will hold about 300 pounds of beef.) The remaining 7 steps are just as easy. Be sure to have green hickory or oak limbs on hand to create the 12 to 14 inches of live coals you'll need. You'll also need metal bars to place across the pit, 18" apart, and some overlapping tin to cover that, plus a tarp "in case of rain." Easy, indeed!

If you'd like your own copy of this delightful cookbook, Arizona Cook Book was published by Golden West Publishers, and when I checked was available online at several sites that sell used books, including alibris and Bon appetit!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Urban Fishing

So - you live in the desert. Guess you'll have to travel a bit to fish, right? Wrong! Fishing is a popular sport in Arizona, and you don't even have to travel very far to enjoy it!
There are 81 lakes in Arizona (according to, and 20 of them are smack in the middle of 11 of the state's cities. Here in the Valley of the Sun, there are 15 lakes in 8 valley cities.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department runs an Urban Fishing program. Their philosophy is : "...if people can't get out of town to fish, we will bring fish into town for the people." The department issues special Urban Fishing licenses, which you can even buy online at It only costs $18.50 for the year, for anyone over 14 years of age.
These urban lakes are regularly stocked with fish like trout, catfish, and sunfish at two-week intervals. They do this year-round, except between July 10 and September 10, when it's just too hot for the health of the fish to transport them.
If you go to any of these urban lakes, like the one in Encanto Park in central Phoenix, or Red Mountain Park in east Mesa, or Surprise Park behind the central library in Surprise, you'll see people of all ages testing their angling skills. They say the fishing is great!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hobo Joe

Recently we decided to drive south from our corner of the valley to check out the towns of Ajo and Wye. Our route took us through downtown Buckeye, where we spotted this 40-foot fiberglass structure just off the main road. We couldn't just pass it by without stopping to investigate.
It's in front of what appears to be an abandoned business of some sort. A short investigatory dip into Google suggests it might be a defunct lumber yard or old meatpacking plant. I did discover that the plaque under this figure is a little misleading. Years ago there was a chain of Hobo Joe restaurants in Arizona (partially owned by Barry Goldwater's brother Robert). One was in downtown Scottsdale. Another may still be operating in Cottonwood, Arizona.
A sculptor named Jim Casey created this character. Three sizes of Hobo Joes were produced, the largest of which we saw in Buckeye. There's a life-size one in the Arizona Railroad Museum, apparently. Should you ever find yourself in Buckeye, go to the corner of Monroe and Cemetary Roads and pay Hobo Joe a visit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Free Movies at the Drive-In

Wow! I just found out that we have not one, but TWO drive-In Movie theaters here in the valley. In Scottsdale, at 8101 E. McKellips, there are 6 screens showing first-run movies. In Glendale, at 5650 N. 55th Avenue, there are 9 screens. Admission is $6.00 for people over 12 years of age. These theaters have been here since the late 1970s!

So, what is free? This coming Thursday, September 20th, both sites are offering a choice of 3 double features for free. Here are the combinations: ET and Grease, Grease and Wayne's World, or Wayne's World and ET. Gates open at 6:45 PM, and the shows start at 7:45 PM. What a great way to relive "the good ol' days" or take the little ones to a movie where the whole family can relax!

Find Out What's Happening

Want to know what's going on here in the Valley of the Sun? There's a superb web site,, that will answer all your questions! Here are the categories it covers: Theater, Music, Dance, Visual Arts, Festivals, Kids and Families, Film and Video, Poetry and Literature, "Unique AZ," Museums, Special Events, and Free Events.

Find out all you need to know and order your tickets online, easily! You can sign up for emails to let you in on last-minute bargains and special offers, too. Check it out!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Kathy Reichs in Scottsdale

No matter what author or celebrity you're interested in, chances are really good that he or she will visit the valley at some point within a year. Since we're interested in books and authors, we enjoy going to book readings from time to time.

This past Thursday we headed for Scottsdale's Poisoned Pen Bookstore ( to hear Kathy Reichs talk about her books, including the latest - Bones to Ashes. Since this is her tenth book, store owner Barbara Peters turned this visit into a celebration, complete with rum cake for everyone! Dr. Reichs discussed each of her previous books and talked about how each plot was suggested by something she encountered in her work as a forensic anthropologist. She also shared some insights into the television series Bones, which is inspired by Dr. Reichs.

Poisoned Pen Bookstore is the largest mystery bookstore in North America, and hosts several authors each month. When we arrived in the valley three years ago, one of the first things we did was attend a reading by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, who talked about their new children's book, Peter and the Starcatchers. I got to see one of my favorite humorists and stand dumbstruck before him in the booksigning line (I could barely tell him my name). We also were introduced to a mystery writer we had not ever read. Now my husband, my younger daughter, and I count Ridley Pearson among our favorite mystery writers.

Poisoned Pen also runs its own publishing company, Poisoned Pen Press (, which I discovered while wandering the shelves of a local library. I picked up a copy of Desert Wives by Betty Webb and was hooked. I learned a lot about the polygamist sects living on the Arizona strip between Arizona and Utah, and was thoroughly entertained. At the Kathy Reichs reading, Barbara Peters mentioned that there'll be a new Betty Webb book coming out soon, on yet another controversial topic. I can hardly wait!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Golfing in the Dark

As the temperature rises, Arizonans decrease their outdoor activity. Even in this land of golf, valley courses find themselves empty of all except a few hardy souls. If it's 110 degrees, we don't want to spend a lot of time in the sun. Local golf courses handle this decrease in business in a couple of ways.

Since the humidity is low here, if you're in the shade, you're substantially cooler than in the sun. And what could be shadier than nighttime? Two golf courses run by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation department, Encanto 9 at 2300 N. 17th Avenue, and the Palo Verde course at 6215 N. 15th Avenue, are offering "Night Flight Golf." Get your glow necklace and glow ball, then head off on the glow-lighted course! For more information, check this web site ( ) or call 602.262.6870.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Public Art

The Phoenix valley is filled with delights for the eye. One thing I love about this place is its artistic sensibility. Everywhere I look, there is public art - on freeway walls, on bridges and overpasses, in business courtyards, in parks, and on library grounds.

A few weeks ago I visited the Maricopa County Library in Surprise and was delighted to see something new. There in the grass between the building and the street was a lovely sculpture - a learning tree, backed by an open book showing quotes by Henry David Thoreau and Jane Evershead. There are benches in the shade of this metal tree, and lights hanging from its branches. It's beautiful!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Is It a Duck, Or Is It a Truck?

There are several mining operations here is the valley, busily working the dry river beds in places like Sun City, Peoria, and Queen Creek. As new housing continues to grow, the juxtaposition of industry and residential areas creates predictable conflicts.

Noise is one of the concerns. Federal safety regulations require that trucks have an audible signal to indicate they are backing up, like the the high-pitched beep-beep-beep backup warning with which most of us are familiar. That sound can carry long distances, especially late at night and early in the morning. Nearby residents complain.

Two firms, one with a plant in Sun City, and another with locations in Peoria and Queen Creek have already installed alarms that sound like a quacking duck. Another, Vulcan Materials, is testing "an alarm that gives off a swishing sound." Now the Maricopa County Mining District Recommendation Committee is considering requiring all back-up alarms to broadcast "a less obnoxious noise."

Soon residents awake in the wee hours past midnight may be asking the question: "Is it a duck, or is it a truck?"

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tempe's Pyramid City Hall

One of the fun things about this valley is the wide variety of unusual buildings. A couple of months ago we attended an arts and music festival in Tempe (say: tem PEE). We were intrigued by the unusual building close by. Extensive research (thanks, Google) reveals that this upside-down pyramid is the Tempe City Hall. Located at 31 E. 5th Street, it was built between 1969 and 1971, creating quite a stir.

Tempe architects Michael and Kemper Goodwin designed this award-winning building, which was built at a cost of $52.5 million dollars. The 3-storey concrete construction you see to the right in the picture provides emergency fire exits. Its outer walls slope inward from to top to bottom at 45 degrees, which is supposed to help with energy conservation. The idea is that each floor provides shade for the floor below it, an important consideration in this Valley of the Sun.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Free Summer Concert Series

It's hot now, and outdoor events are fewer in the summer months. However, it's a perfect time for nighttime concerts under the stars. For several years now, Arrowhead Towne Center (the mall just off of West Bell Road and the Loop 101) has sponsored a series of outdoor concerts at the amphitheater outside the upper level on the north side. There's a view of the mountains to the right of the stage, and architecturally trimmed Palo Verde trees surround the area. Uplights cast interesting shadows on surrounding walls.

This evening we enjoyed Snake Eyes, "Arizona's Premier Party Bank," according to their website ( The audience was filled with people of all ages, clearly enjoying themselves. Children waving glowsticks frolicked across the stage, couples danced, and a dozen or so people did the Electric Slide.

Every Saturday, through September 1, a different local band will be providing the entertainment. There'll be a variety of types of music, from country to rock, to a Beatles tribute band on August 18. I'm looking forward to the performance on August 4 - Azz Izz will be doing "Funk, Jazz, Reggae, and Saucy Soca."

Bring your own folding chairs or sit on the tiered rings which rise above the stage. Bands perform for two hours, from 7 to 9 PM.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Body Worlds Exhibit - Final Opportunity

There are so many museums here in the valley! We've been to several so far, but I made a second trip to the Arizona Science Center ( in downtown Phoenix's Heritage Square Park recently to see an extraordinary exhibit. Body Worlds 3 is an exhibit of human anatomy, featuring real bodies preserved through a method called plastination. Gunther von Hagens, from Heidelberg, Germany, invented the process in the 1970s.

The exhibit traces the history of the study of anatomy, and features bodies posed in different activities, including a javelin thrower, a skateboarder, and a gymnast. We see real anatomical features, not models, in the midst of their functions. The plastination allows posing, disection, and slicing without destruction. We get to how things work, alone and in relation to the rest of the body. We spent two hours in the exhibit, fascinated.

This exhibit has traveled to New York City and Southern California in addition to other places. It's been a tremendous success, and the original run in Phoenix was extended. It now will be open through the Memorial Day weekend. It's recommended that you reserve your timed tickets in advance. We did so online the week before we went, and were glad we did. For the day we wanted to go, there were only a few tickets left. We chose an early time, and managed to see most of the exhibit before the groups of students (older, mostly well-behaved) arrived. It's a little pricey - $22 plus a $2 service fee for the advanced ticket - but well worth it! We parked in the garage next to Heritage Square Park, in spite of the posted $8 fee. Our validated parking ticket made the real cost only $2.

Take a look at the Body World web page, , to get an idea of what you'll be in for. We recommend it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Glendale Jazz and Blues Festival

This is another event we look forward to every year. The 24th annual Glendale Jazz and Blues Festival is a two-day affair, from 10 AM - 10 PM on Saturday, and from noon to 5 PM on Sunday. They'll have two stages: one for jazz, and one for blues. There'll also be wine tasting, food and beverage concessions, children's activities, and arts and crafts for sale. It's in downtown Glendale, in the park at 59th and Glendale Avenues. Take your lawn chairs and enjoy the great music and heavenly weather.

Artists appearing include Sistah Blue, Carvin Jones, Joey DeFrancesco, Coco Montoya, and the KC Blues Band. Visit the outstanding website at for a schedule, parking and shuttle details, and to listen to 12 selections by some of the musician's you'll be hearing. Parking and admission are free!

It's going to be a really busy weekend for us!

Arizona Book Festival

For three years now we've been intending to go to this festival, and I think maybe this year we'll be able to do so! It's the 10th annual Arizona Book Festival, held this Saturday, April 14, from 10 AM to 5 PM. It will be held in Carnegie Library Park, 1101 W. Washington Street, in Phoenix. Their web site, , has pages of information, including detailed information about parking and bus information.

There will be events going on all day, at six locations, including a stage for children's book authors. The list of writers who will appear is long, so check the web site for details. There will also be many booths to check out. I printed out the schedule to take with us. It will be hard to decide among so many possibilites! One that looks particularly fascinating is a presentation by Bill Carter, who wrote the book Fools Rush In about his experiences in Sarajevo, which led to the creation of "his award-winning documentary, Miss Sarajevo." The film itself will be shown twice during the day. Oh, yes - admission to the event is free.

Igor's Jazz Cowboys

This Thursday, April 12, you can hear a free concert by Igor's Jazz Cowboys from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Avondale Civic Center, 11465 W. Civic Center Drive, Avondale. This is part of Avondale's "Under the Stars" concert series, so take a blanket or lawn chair, some cash for buying refreshments if you like, and enjoy our nearly perfect weather while listening to "acoustic Western swing" music.

Every year we used to attend the Sacramento, CA Jazz Festival, where we noticed this group was extremely popular. How exciting to find they are from Tempe, AZ! And now you can hear them for free!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Regional Parks

Maricopa County (where Phoenix is) has the "largest regional park system in the United States." We lucky Arizonans have a choice of ten wilderness areas in which to enjoy the great desert outdoors. They form a ring around the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, so no matter where you live, a regional park is close to you. Eight of these parks have hiking trails, some of them barrier-free. There are picnic sites, horseback riding, rodeo arenas, boating and fishing, ramadas, and playgrounds, too. Many of the parks have ranger-led hikes throughout the year on which knowledgable rangers address all sorts of topics. Some have special holiday events. We particularly enjoyed a nighttime hike this past Christmas Eve along a trail in White Tank Mountain park which was lined with luminarias. There is a $5 per vehicle entrance fee, but you can buy an annual pass for only $75, good at every park except Lake Pleasant. Visit to match specific activities to parks.

A partial list of tomorrow's scheduled special events may give you an idea of some of the things there are to do in the regional parks:

McDowell Mountain: a 55-mile Endurance Mountain Bike Ride, from 6 AM to 6PM.
Usery Mountain: a 2-mile "Looking for Lizards" hike, for ages 7-10, begins at 9 AM.
White Tanks Mountain: a 2-mile Waterfall Trail Interpretive Hike, from 9 AM to 11 AM.
Estrella Mountain : a one-hour "Rocks in the Head" geology walk, 9 AM - 10 AM.
Spur Cross Ranch: "Rocks and Streams," a 2-hour easy walk learning about the geology and streams of the area with earth science author Thomas McGuire.
Estrella Mountain: a "Full Moon" hike, from 7 - 9 PM, along the Toothaker Trail.

Is it the weekend already?

Yikes! Time flies when you're busy! So . . . let's see. What to do this weekend?

Even though Easter is this Sunday, there are still several events planned.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday:

In Peoria (in the west valley), a three-day Spring Arts and Crafts Festival will be held at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Saturday and Sunday:

On main street in Verado in the far, far west valley, enjoy a farmer's market on Saturday from 10 to 5, an art fair both days from 10 to 5, and a street-dance performance at 4 PM Saturday.

On Saturday:

In Avondale, in the west valley, enjoy the Spring Fling and Ice Cream Social at the Avondale Civic Center (11465 W. Civic Center Drive). The free event will feature pony rides, carnival games, picnic foods, and the Easter Bunny.

If you're a fan of roses, in Glendale, also in the west valley, there's the yearly Sunshine and Roses show at the Deer Valley High School ( from 1 PM to 4PM. It's free.

On Sunday:

In Scottsdale, at the Civic Center Mall (7380 E. Second Street), there will be Sunday A'Fair, a yearly celebration with free music, arts and crafts, and children's activities. It all begins at noon, and ends around 4:30. The McCarthy Brothers Band plays from noon to 1:30, then one of our favorite groups, Sistah Blue, will be performing from 2 PM to 4:30 PM. It's outside on the lawn area, so take your lawn chairs and enjoy the beautiful weather we're having.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

More festivals this weekend . . .

North of Scottsdale is Carefree, Arizona, where the Sonoran Festival of Fine Art is taking place this weekend. Stroll along Easy Street (yes, that's a real street name) between 10AM and 5 PM each day to enjoy food, music, and art. Be sure to check out one of the world's largest sundials, the beautiful desert landscape, and the coolest slide for kids - a gila monster.

In the west valley, there's the 9th annual Litchfield Park Art and Culinary Festival. Over 200 fine artists from all over the country will be displaying their work. There will be music on several stages, demonstrations by local chefs, wine tasting, and, of course, lots of yummy food. The fun takes place between 10 AM and 5 PM both Saturday (today) and Sunday. It's at Wigwam Boulevard and Old Litchfield Road (next to the world-famous Wigwam resort) Admission and parking are free.

The Tempe Arts Festival is in downtown Tempe today and tomorrow. There will be arts and crafts, live music, street performers, and wine tasting. Go to Mill Avenue to join in the fun. Drop into the Borders Books at 699 Mills Avenue between noon and 4 PM either day, where science fiction author Vijaya Schartz will be signing copies of her latest books. Admission is free.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What shall we do this weekend?

There is so much happening around the Valley of the Sun this weekend! Here are a few things from which to choose:

* Free jazz concert: On Friday night, from 6 PM to 8 PM, on the patio of AJ's Fine Foods, 20050 N. 67th Avenue, Glendale, AJ's Jazz combo will perform. There will also be a "mini fashion show."

* Film: Viewing and Lecture: On ASU's west campus, in the Kiva Lecture Hall (4701 W. Thunderbird Road, Phoenix), the Friday Night Film Series, looking at movies based on classic novels, continues. This week, the film is American Splendor. After the film, Fred Lench, a "film connoisseur since 1985," will lead a discussion. Admission and parking are free.

* Westside Motorcycle Expo: Travel to Glendale's University of Phoenix Stadium on Glendale and 95th Avenues to the first of what promotors plan to be a semi-annual event, this celebration of the motorcycle will run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10 AM to 6 PM. From 7 PM to 11 PM each night, there will be a concert. Friday night's band is Buckcherry. Saturday and Sunday the band will be Army of Anyone. Go to the exhibition and you'll find" extreme freestyle motorcycle demonstrations," free stuff, and fun for the kids, including "NASCAR and drag strip simulators." General admission is $18, $12 with a military I.D., and free for children 12 years old and younger.

* Miniature Horse show: This one actually started today (Wednesday), and runs through Sunday. The Arizona Touch of Class Miniature Horse Show is at Scottsdale's WestWorld Equestrian Center, 16601 North Pima Road. They begin at 8AM each day, and admission is free. Go to for more information.

* Stomp! The exuberant celebration of percussion will be presented at the Maricopa County Events Center, on RH Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West. Ticket prices are $35 - $55.

* Feathered Friends Festival: From 9 AM to 2 PM at the Gilbert Riparian Institute, 2757 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert. There will be over 40 booths, wildlife exhibits, and arts and crafts. It's free, but donations are accepted.

* Book sales: Two branches of the Glendale library will be holding book sales this weekend. For a bibliophile like me, there are bound to be plenty of irresistable bargains. Hours at the Main Branch (5959 Brown Street) will be 9 - 5 on Saturday and 8 to Noon on Sunday. Books will all be half price on Sunday.
The Foothills branch (19055 N. 57th Avenue) will hold its sale from 9 to 3. Books will priced at $1.

* "Buggin' Art": The Heard Museum West, 16126 N. Civic Center Plaza in Surprise, will celebrate the opening of its newest exhibition, "Buggin' Art," on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM. The artist Elizabeth Wallace (Navajo/Washoe/Maidu) will lecture at 11:00 and at 3:00. Musician Jeremiah Sammartana (Navajo) will perform. Gerald Dawavendewa will sign his children's book, The Butterfly Dance from 11 to 1. There will be craft activities for the kids, and admission is free. The exhibition runs through August 26.

* Peoria's Pioneer Day Parade: This Saturday, beginning at 10 AM, enjoy the celebration in downtown Peoria. The parade will travel Washington Street between 85th and 83rd Avenues.

* Free family fun: Take the kids to the Spring Extravaganza between 9 AM and 12 noon on Saturday. At the Sahuaro Ranch Park Softball Complex (63rd Avenue and Mountain View Road in Glendale), there will be an egg hunt, an egg decorating contest (bring your own eggs), prizes, candy, and giant inflatable games. Admission is free!

* Cesar Chavez Celebration: Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, will be the site of the first annual Cesar Chavez Celebration. The fundraiser for the Chavez Foundation will be Saturday from 11 AM to 9:30 PM and Sunday from 11 AM to 8 PM Sunday. Featured appearances include War, Emilio Navaira, Graciela Beltran, and El Chicano. Ticket prices range from $10 to $15.

* Free movie tickets: Get free tickets to an advance screening of Firehouse Dog, a new movie rated PG. This Saturday, go to one of two locations to meet representatives of the Phoenix or Gilbert fire departments and get pet rescue decals, promotional items, and those tickets.
In the east valley, got to Cosmo Dog Park/Doggie Beach Party, 2502 East Ray Road, between 8:30 AM and 10 AM In Phoenix, got to Arizona Humane Society, 9226 N. 13th Avenue between 10 AM and 11 AM.
Watch the Arizona Republic newspaper for free advance screening tickets to other movies. They're offered several times a year. Note the fine print: these tickets are honored on a first come, first served basis. "The theater is overbooked to ensure a full house." Translation: get there really early!

Freddie Duran Unplugged

Tomorrow night is Thursday, and it's time to travel to Glendale's main library at 5959 W. Brown Street. Acoustic music of Mexico and the desert southwest will be presented by Freddie Duran. It's a great auditorium, and it's free!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival

What a wonderful day we had at the second day of the festival! The weather was absolutely perfect and the music was fantastic! We parked in the elementary school lot and took the free shuttle, which deposited us right in front of the Encanto Park Clubhouse. Inside were two performance sites: the ballroom and the fireside room. Straight ahead was the Opry House stage, and to our left was the Outdoor Folk Arbor.

We started with the arbor - a circle of musicians seated in folding chairs in the shade of a cluster of trees. One man played a saw (!), another a dulcimer. There were a couple of autoharps, a fiddle, a bass, and several guitars of different sorts. A large clock was fastened to the tree with a plastic tie. Performances changed on the half-hour and musicians and audience alike needed to keep track of the time. We recognized a few of the musicians - some in the performing circle, some in the audience. This was a sing-along, and we found ourselves joining in the fun.

We spent the entire day there, enjoying folk, blues, country, and bluegrass music. We discovered new favorite performers and delighted in hearing old favorites in new settings. Several musicians shared original works. The whole atmosphere was casual and relaxing. As we strolled from one scheduled performance to another, we passed clusters of musicians practicing, or playing for the joy of it.
If you like music, then I highly recommend this event. We're certainly looking forward to next year's festival. It's on our list of "must attends."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

More things to do this weekend

In the west valley, Luke Air Force Base is hosting Luke Days, an air show they present every two years. The show runs today and Sunday, and it's free! There is a $5 charge for parking. There are lots of exciting exhibits and demonstrations for aircraft fans, including a Thunderbirds air show and a Thunderbirds ground show. There will also be a Pearl Harbor attack re-enactment called "Tora, Tora, Tora," and a Tuskegee Airmen AT-6 aerial demonstration.

If historic homes are your interest, take a self-guided tour of homes of the 1920s and 1930s in Phoenix's Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood. There will also be an antique car show, music, and an arts and crafts show. Admission is $18, and free parking is available at Phoenix College, on 15th Avenue and Thomas Road. From there, ride the shuttle to the tour, this Sunday, from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Of course, March is Spring Training month, and there are games throughout the valley every day. Go to to find the teams and times that work best for you. Tickets are still available for most games, and it's a great way to spend an afternoon.

This weekend the Safeway International LPGA golf tournament at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country club winds up.

Today at Tempe Beach Park (on Tempe Town Lake), there's a salsa competition to benefit the Hemophilia Association of Arizona. Expect lots of music, salsa, and margaritas. Admission is $10.

Film Festivals

Are you interested in film? The Phoenix area has several film festivals throughout the year. Here are just a few:
*The Arizona Black Film Showcase The sixth annual event at the Herberger Theater and the AMC Theater - Arizona Center is ending its three-day run today, March 24, 2007.

*The Phoenix Film Festival April 12 - April 19 Check out their website at Http://
Included in this important festival are five "Showcase Non-competetive Films:"
Fracture, Waitress, Blind Dating, Netherbeast, Inc., and Wild Seven. These celebrities are scheduled to be there: Jane Seymour, Judd Nelson, Jason Mewes, Steve Burns, Amy Davidson, Robert Forster, and director James Keach. Tickets range from $10 for an individual screening, to a 4-film pass for $30 ($20 for seniors and students) to the VIP Patron Pass for $425 ($350 for seniors and students.)

* Scottsdale International Film Festival October 5 - 9

*The Heard Museum Film Festival October 12 - 14 This world-renown American Indian museum presents "original and award-winning" Native films.

*The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival October 19-21

*The Peoria Arizona Film Festival The second annual festival was held March 1-4 this year. There is no word yet on a date for next year. See pictures of the event and read about winning films at

In Tucson (just 1 1/2 hours south)
*The French and Francophone Film Festival March 20 - April 12, at the University of Arizona. Five films will be shown, with free admission. Food from France and French-speaking countries will be available for sale before each film.

*The Arizona International Film Festival April 20 - 29

In Sedona (just a couple of hours north)
*The Sedona International Film Festival February 27-March 2

Friday, March 23, 2007

Al Gore at ASU in Tempe!

I was skimming through Get Out! magazine when I came across this info: Al Gore will be lecturing live at ASU Gammage on Monday, April 2, 2007. DH, DD, and I heard him speak at an event in Fairfield, California in the late '90s. We've been supporters ever since. I'm sure you've heard how wooden he is? Not true. See him in person and you'll realize what a great sense of humor he has.

So - the tickets to see him at ASU? Well, it turns out they're just a tad (!) too expensive for us - $35 to $75. We'll just have to see the film An Inconvenient Truth instead. But maybe you are interested. Go to for more information.

Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival

This is the time of year when one's frustration is not finding something to do, but not being able to find time to do all one wants to do! Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25, is the 18th annual Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival. AND, it's free, with a free shuttle from the parking lot at 15th Avenue and Osborn to the festival at Encanto Park.

We picked up a copy of the complete schedule, and I'm so sorry we can only go on Sunday! Each day, there are performances scheduled each half-hour, at seven venues within the park. There are some workshops scheduled throughout the day, for those people who are musicians - we're just listeners =) . There's an "Interactive Guitar Fingerstyle Workshop," and an Autoharp Workshop, for example. We plan to get there for the first performance at 10:00 AM and stay until the last song at 5:00 PM.

Rik and Rick

Last night's performance at the Glendale library was fantastic! The rain kept a lot of people away (here in the desert many people are intimidated by the wet stuff), and it was their loss! The schedule published by the library just said there would be a preview of this weekend's music festival. Those of us who were there enjoyed the performances of folk singers Rik Palieri (from Vermont) and Rick Nestler (from New York.) Palieri played the banjo, guitar, Native American low flute, and an ocarina. Nestler accompanied their songs on the guitar and the tenor banjo.

The two sang folk and blues music (including a couple of Woody Guthrie songs), plus some originals. Nestler's "Take Me to the Islands" was a fun calypso tune, made even more fun by the background story of how he came to write it. Palieri included a Polish mountain song and a couple of songs he had written. The audience was encouraged to sing along on the chorus of many of the songs, and sing we did. Palieri's book The Road is My Mistress: Tales of a Roustabout Songster was for sale, and he signed our copy for us. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Free Music!

One of the many great things about living here is all the free activities and entertainment available. From October to the middle of April, the Glendale Public Library ( sponsors free musical performances on Thursday nights at 7:00 PM. We've enjoyed a wide variety of musical genres there - South American folk music, Tejano music, bluegrass, jazz, music from Zimbabwe, Native American Flute, reggae, Baroque classical music, Irish traditional songs, and much more. The auditorium is large enough that we've never been unable to get a seat, even though these concerts are very popular. It's stadium-type seating, so we don't have to worry about our short selves sitting behind someone really tall. The music is high quality, and the audience is always great. Tonight we're going to hear a "preview of the annual Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival at Encanto Park," which takes places Saturday and Sunday.

We're really excited about the music festival for at least a couple of reasons. It's in a beautiful park in the middle of Phoenix (one we haven't had the chance to explore yet), it promises all different kinds of music (folk, blues, celtic, country, cowboy, bluegrass and traditional), AND it's free! Two free days of great music in a beautiful setting - who could ask for more?

I Live in a Wonderful Place!

We live in a large-ish house (1900 square feet), in a community with wide, clean streets. There are seven citrus trees in our yard: grapefruit, tangelo, lime, and three kinds of orange. In spring the blossoms fill the air with a heavenly scent. Cactus, bouganvilla, lantana and Mexican bird of paradise bloom in our yard.

We don't have stray cats or dogs wandering our unfenced yard, but we DO see quail, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, pigeons, doves, and hawks.

Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners our family and friends gather around the table on our patio, enjoying the good life! In the late summer, there are spectacular monsoonal storms. Yes, it gets hot - really, really, hot - but we spend time out of doors, and our bodies adjust to the heat by sending capillaries closer to the skin and it's not so bad. Arizonans know to stay in the shade.

There is so much to do in this Valley of the Sun that we don't have enough time to do even a fraction of all that we would like. We don't make a lot of money, but we don't have to here in this divine place. The purpose of this blog is to share with you the wonders that are Arizona.