Thursday, November 27, 2014

Surface matters

It is so déclassé to talk about money but it's one of many things I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving. Besides, the older I get the less I care about what's supposed to be right and wrong, and more about what is right and wrong.

Some time ago I read that women are less concerned about losing their looks than they are about not having enough money. I was somewhat younger then with a different view of things and could understand this, but not live in it. It just didn't seem to apply to my circumstances, not that I was ever overly gifted with money but I had enough. Losing whatever looks I had loomed higher on the anxiety list. I'm not proud to say that but I've gained perspective and the ebbing tide of my appearance is not as fatal as I once thought it would be. One, to my bipolar reaction of dismay and delight, I found nobody cares what I look like on the outside. No one. Two, I've earned every line, wrinkle, gray hair, and drooping whatever. This, at least, is what I told myself when applying paint and spackle to my face the other morning and found new wrinkles that appeared, totally literally, overnight. Ditto the solar lentigines, cruelly also called age spots, that spontaneously and concurrently erupted on my face the week I turned 60. I thought I had skin cancer. No, it was just a case of middle age, an untreatable condition.

But I am concerned about money. How many people can honestly say they don't care if they have enough to live on? So when Voldemort notified me a few weeks ago that he was likely losing his job at the end of the year, resulting in a 40% cut to my income, I expected to go into panic mode but didn't. This money wasn't going to last forever; it's just dying an earlier death than I expected, and I never spent like there was no tomorrow. One thing my parents taught me was how to save. I will be just fine on the remaining 60%.

This year, then, I remain grateful for many things:
   Enough money to live on.
   Good health and the health insurance that helps it to stay that way.
   Regular "employment" at our wonderful national parks, which allows me to live a vagabond life.
   My girl cats, both worthless animals.
   The friends I have had and the friends I continue to make along the way.
   My family: the kids, the grands, my sister, my brother, and all in-laws and out-laws. 
   My round-about family: HH's kids, who have treated me like family from the beginning.
   And finally and firstly, my dear HH, the best thing that ever happened to me.

Only one photo today. I'm so far behind. This is a hummer that zipped in and out of the garden at Tumacácori one day, feeding on aloe flowers. I was lucky to find him at rest.


Thought of the day:

I've never been a millionaire but I just know I'd be darling at it. - Dorothy Parker

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Only three colors

I mentioned that the stained glass windows I so admired at St. Patrick in Bisbee were created by Emil Frei, and that that company also made the windows for St. Mary's Basilica in Phoenix. HH and I drove over in late September, and were greatly impressed with the church.

This is the largest collection of stained glass in Arizona, and what a collection it is. HH pointed out that the quality of these windows is better than those in Bisbee, and there's not a thing wrong with those so that's an indication of the perfection of what you see here. It made me think that of course the company would have different grades of goods, something for different budgets. What a smart business move.

It is unclear from the church's website whether the windows came directly from the company's headquarters in St. Louis or were sub-contracted to a company in Munich.

First, the exterior. I really like Mission architecture.

Enough of that. On to the stars of this show. 

A window at one end of the transept.

Following early church architecture, the north wall of the Sanctuary is of parabolic design to project the voice of the altar speaker to the rear of the church.

The dome lights the crossing of the nave and transept.

The window at the other end of the transept.

The altars, rails, confessional, pulpit, and pedestal were built in 1910 under the supervision of a Franciscan Brother. This is one of the side altars.

The "rose window" over the organ loft at the rear of the church.

The following are the windows that are spaced at regular intervals along the nave. I don't think they need any commentary, so I'll keep quiet.

This is a "plain," placeholder window. Judging from the names, I would guess this is a modern window.

All wooden furnishings other than those noted up above are of solid oak and the work was done by one firm from Cleveland.

Catholics will recognize this as a confessional, but the configuration is a new one to me. What I was brought up with had the priest in the middle and the sinners on either side. This one has just two compartments.

The details make a difference. Imagine sitting here on a cold winter morning with the furnace roaring in the basement and sending up heat through these registers right to your feet. They appear only on every other row, and I'd bet that's how the pews fill up.

This is the other side altar.

The main altar again.

The pulpit with three of the four evangelists.

The entrance to the rectory is at the corner of the block.

It's always nice when the churches are open, but it has been unusual to find them that way most places I go. I find that strange; in New York, crime central, where I'd go by train from DC on long weekends, almost every church was available. Out in the nether lands, not so much.

Thought of the day:

There are only three colors, ten digits, and seven notes; it's what we do with them that's important. - Jim Rohn

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tumacácori sunrise

It's not quite the same as Tequila Sunrise but you make do with what you have.

A couple of times a year Tumacácori opens at 6 am, three hours earlier than regular hours. Yesterday was one of those days and I lay awake at 5, debating whether or not I wanted to go out in the cold, but I exhibited some backbone and hauled myself out of bed. It was 42° when I headed down the road.

There was one other hardy soul when the door opened at 6 but not long after, other photographers showed up.

One of the jobs I've been asked to do here is cull, name, and move photos into one spot. My favorites are always the historic ones, typically in black and white. This is mine but it looks very similar to those.

The first photos, from when it was still dark, just didn't turn out so what I have here is from when the sun was teasing the horizon and when it finally broke over.

Behind the church is a walled cemetery and a mortuary. Straight ahead of the gate is the opening to the mortuary. It still needed a domed ceiling and additional plastering when the mission was abandoned. Holes for scaffolding remain in the wall.

The cemetery was laid out by the missionaries as a holy ground where their growing numbers of converts could be buried. After the priests left, treasure hunters vandalized the graves and cattle were corralled here. No markers of the early graves remain.

Nearby residents continued to consider this sanctified ground, and when peace came to the valley, once again buried their dead in this ground.

The mortuary is on the left, the sacristy of the church on the right, and the Santa Rita Mountains in the distance.

The last burial was of the infant Juanita Alegria in 1916; her grave is still decorated. Among the photos I've been working on are a few of her grave being painted with turquoise paint but that was some time ago.

Niches in the wall held the stations of the cross, lost to time.

These next two are from the storeroom that stands to the east of the cemetery. It held the surplus grain and crops from the mission garden and orchard.

Urns rest safely in depressions in the bench

A full moon appeared to hover over the dome that rises above the sanctuary of the church.

The sun finally broke over the Santa Ritas to light the mountains to the west, but was not yet high enough to illuminate the church.

This is a longer view of the church, still not yet lit by the sun.

An even longer view now that the sun has risen. The gate in the wall of the cementerio is to the right of the church. The storeroom is at the far right, and a sliver of the mortuary can be seen between them.

Three painters arrived and had their easels set up as the sun burnished the adobe and brick.

A final view of golden light and Arizona blue sky.

Thought of the day:

Carpe diem!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dos Cabezas

On our way to Chiricahua National Monument a couple of weeks ago, we passed a cemetery almost hidden in the grass near the ghost town of Dos Cabezas (two heads), named for the twin outcrops in the nearby Dos Cabezas Mountains of southeast Arizona. We stopped at the cemetery on our way back from Chiricahua, with the idea of going to Fort Bowie National Historic Site next, but an urgent need for fuel in the forms of petroleum and a Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait, made with hot fudge and caramel sauce, used up all the time and Fort Bowie closed before we could get there. (As an aside, can you believe HH never went to a Dairy Queen, ever, before he met me? I have opened great horizons for him, that's for sure.)

Unfortunately, in all the excitement of finding this great cemetery, I neglected to take a photo of the mountains.

I am a big fan of what I call cemetery hardware: the gates, fences, latches, and general surrounds that have been in many cemeteries I've visited. Some have grand gates at the entrances and some are more pedestrian, like this one.

But the latch was unique. It was so different and simple that I believe I said wow with hushed reverence and played with it for a while.

The ring rests on a short bar within the elongated donut and all it takes to open the gate is lift the ring so it clears the horizontal bar on the gate in the photo above. Genius!

I surveyed the grounds, not really looking forward to blazing a path through the knee-high grass, thinking only of snakes, but what the heck? 

Harken back with me - bear with me now while I go off on a tangent - more than fifty years. When I was a girl I remember being scandalized, because we never said bad words at home, by a framed poem my Aunt Marge had on the wall in her house .

Never say “die” - say “damn.”
It isn’t classic.
 It may be profane.
But we mortals have need of it, time and again;
And you’ll find you’ll recover from fate’s hardest slam,
if you never say “die” - say “damn.”

So I said damn! and looked and listened at every step for snakes as I made my way around the more or less acre-sized site.

There were some wide swaths cut through the grass but they didn't go far. Most of the graves were overgrown like this.

If there was a gravestone inside this fence, it was buried under the shrub on the right.

This view sums up my image of the old wild west. Crooked wooden crosses, rocks piled on top, a wide blue sky, and lonely, rugged mountains as a backdrop.

A trefoil-adorned iron fence acquires more character as it rusts.

A different version is more delicate with its curved lines and open shapes, but this is just the top rail.

The gate looks like it belongs to a different grave site.

The graceful, slender, curved lines continue on the fence, but in a third style altogether, casting a soft shadow on the stone.

Let's just say William, below, came to the Arizona Territory in the 1850s as a member of a commission working on boundary lines between the United States and Mexico; Dos Cabezas served as the commission's home base.  Or maybe he was a Pony Express rider; they stopped here to change mounts en route from El Paso to Tucson.

The Apaches were on the literal warpath during that time. In 1857 a stage station was built by the San Antonio and San Diego Stage Lines (Butterfield-Overland), but by 1861 when Fort Bowie was established, the station had been destroyed by the Apaches. I don't know who he was or what he did, but do know that it would take a love of adventure or a sense of desperation to come to a place like this in the middle of the 19th century.

It seems as though the front section of this stone, with the name and dates, was the original and was later set into another slab for strength. The rosary and decorations on the right side are glass.

I did not go out to these plots but photographed them from a distance.

 Overgrown and forgotten.

I've seen Woodmen markers all over the country. It's a fraternal organization that operates a privately held insurance company for its members. One of the benefits of membership was a headstone in the shape of a tree stump bearing the logo of the Woodmen of the World, but that practice was abandoned in the 1920s due to the cost.

Another overgrown grave but not forgotten. Who would still be putting flowers here after more than 90 years?

A spare, handmade wire cross is almost lost in the tall grass. There's nothing else to say who lies there.

There were no snakes but there is a devil grass here that grows in abundance. Ten minutes in and I was stopping to pick needle-like slivers out of my socks. I was limping as I made my way back to the car. The grass had worked its way in through the mesh of my sneakers and through my socks to my feet. I'm convinced that it would embed itself in my skin if I didn't remove every speck of it. All the way to Dairy Queen I was picking grass out of my shoes, inside and out. What I need for this kind of outing is leather boots and leather gaiters. Time for some shopping because a cemetery like this should never be passed by.


Thought of the day:

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