September 27, 2009

jobs well done-- and another in the making

The last few days have been busy around here, artistically and organizationally speaking... the photo below is a sneak peek of a project that I finally finished on Thursday (at the last possible minute, of course). I will show more photos of it soon- it's an artistic challenge that I had a LOT of mental problems completing, almost gave up a couple times, doubted my artistic vision--- but I am very glad I persevered and did what I wanted with it. Bonus-- it will be shown in a local gallery (!) along with art from 10 other participants of the challenge-- at the end of the show, they will be auctioned off to raise money for Women for Women, an international aid organization that helps women in conflict and post-conflict areas of the world. (Did I mention that my art will be shown in a local gallery?!?!! I'm really excited, but also a bit nervous about that...) The gallery is called Art on Boston, in downtown Chandler, AZ- more info about the gallery here. Below is a pic of another weekend job well done- like a lot of people, I seem to collect art and craft supplies more than anything (some of which I've had for years and never opened or used), and I also have plenty of things I bought for specific projects that I no longer even remember... so, I decided to go thru everything with the goal to de-stash, streamline, and have a garage sale. This way, they would no longer be cluttering up my space, and they would hopefully go to good homes where someone else would actually get some use out of them. I did pretty good, actually-- I got rid of some of my older stuff, and made enough money for use to go out for drinks and appetizers, and also enough money to buy some new stuff! :D Of course, the aftermath of a major project completion and looking thru my stuff for things to sell means that my art studio looks like this:
This has the makings of another major project, doesn't it??

September 19, 2009

aaarrrggghhh, mateys!

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!! (or just enjoy a shot of my favorite pirate, Jack Sparrow!)

September 11, 2009

...yes, I think we WERE crazy... Part 2

On Sunday, after we had a leisurely (and very delicious!) buffet breakfast at the Monte Carlo hotel (we took a cab this time, to save our feet- and our moods!), we headed back to Arizona. We had hoped to beat the "holiday traffic" since we were traveling on Sunday and not on Labor Day... but, no such luck: at this point, we were still at least 5 or 6 miles away from the Hoover Dam (and a security checkpoint, which is where most of the traffic backup came from). Tom actually put the car in Neutral some of the time, and just coasted/idled. It was pretty annoying, but the scenery was beautiful though- miles of hairpin turns thru the mountainous terrain- and, if we had been going faster, we would have missed seeing this guy:
This bighorn sheep was strolling along right next to the highway... quite a surprise! We always see those "watch out for wildlife" signs when we're driving but never end up seeing anything, so I was quite happy to see him- he's a pretty nice specimen, too- he has a pretty nice curl to his horns.
Once we got to the Dam and parked, we headed for the Visitor's Center where we decided to take the guided tour-- we actually got to go down into the Dam and see some of the workings. The tour covered the history and building of the dam (it was built between 1931 and 1936, and was finished ahead of schedule and under budget!), and was really quite interesting. This huge generator room (650 feet long), which is somewhere around 500 feet underground, houses the turbines on the Nevada side of the river-- the scale of this equipment is almost incomprehensible. The American flag is hanging from one of two huge cranes that they use to move the equipment if they need to service it. What you see in this room is the very top of the generators; the electricity is generated below what you can see, and the water actually flows thru below that still (I still don't quite understand how it all works, but it's amazing, when you stop to think about it- the fact that moving water can generate that much electricity).
This photo was taken from the outdoor area at the top of the Visitor's Center- again, the sense of scale is almost incomprehensible-- there are teeny, tiny cars passing over the top, but it's still hard to understand how big it is-- 45 feet thick at the top, 660 feet thick at the base, and 726 feet high. (I think they should put a mannequin down at the bottom, to give visitors a sense of the size-- we were also wondering how many pairs of sunglasses and cameras are down there...LOL!)
This photo isn't the best, but it's another one taken to show a sense of scale (once this bridge is done, it will span 1,080 feet.) Obviously, since the current highway is 2-lane, has a lot of switchbacks, and goes right over the top of the dam, there are a lot of traffic problems. This photo shows the arch that will support a new 4-lane roadbed, so eventually traffic can bypass Hoover Dam altogether. Unless you want to tour the Dam, of course- I would definitely love to go back again sometime, but we'd need more time next time, since we still didn't get to see everything we wanted. We made it back home about 10 pm, which makes for a "total vacation time" of 40 hours... Not even two entire days (!), but we've certainly figured out how to pack a lot of activity into those short amounts of time. It was a fun weekend, and I look forward to doing it again sometime soon. (just not on a major holiday weekend!)

September 10, 2009

...yes, I think we WERE crazy- Part 1

maybe it was the non-stop trip last month from Arizona to Illinois that warped us... after driving 30 hours at once, 6 hours is nothing, right?? ...last weekend, we drove to Las Vegas for a whirlwind weekend trip. We dropped the dogs off at the sitter's house at 6 am on Saturday, then headed out of town. I'd never been to Vegas before, and Tom hadn't for quite a few years-- it was a beautiful drive through the northwest part of Arizona and over the Hoover Dam into Nevada (pics of that tomorrow). This photo was taken north of Wickenburg, through an area called the Joshua Tree Parkway. There are Joshua tree "forests" (I guess that's what you'd call them) everywhere out there. I still like Saguaro cactus better, but Joshua trees are so alien looking, they're kind of fascinating- they look like something Dr. Seuss came up with, not a plant that's native to the southwest! Once we got over the Hoover Dam and into Vegas (sloooow driving- I'll show some pics of the Dam in a separate post), we hit a scrapbook store (of course!) then headed to the Las Vegas Strip. The first place we stopped was a pawn shop...
The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, to be exact- we recently started watching a reality series on the History Channel called Pawn Stars, which is filmed there- a bit like Antiques Roadshow with a twist, and some really interesting characters! You never know what people will try and pawn or sell- a handmade glass sword (!) and a cannon from the 1850s were two of the odder items from recent shows, Two of the stars were in the shop when we stopped in, and they were nice enough to pose with Tom. From left to right: Tom, Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison (the grandson of the shop owner), and "Chumlee," Corey's childhood friend.
After we got settled into our hotel just off the main drag, we headed for the Las Vegas strip, and started walking- there's sooo much to see, it was sensory overload! (the strip is a looooot longer than it looks, too- I still have blisters!) This photo was taken just as the lights started coming on- the left part of the photo is New York, New York, with replicas of the Brooklyn Bridge, Chrysler Building, and Empire State building, to name a few. You can also see a new hotel complex being built right behind the Statue of Liberty, and the spire off in the distance is a replica of the Eiffel Tower. Along the strip there's also a small canal outside the Venetian hotel where you can take gondola rides; a pirate ship battle happens outside the Treasure Island hotel, and a volcano erupts outside the Mirage hotel. (I gotta admit, it was pretty weird, the "artificial-ness" of the whole place.)
This pic was taken using the Night mode on the camera, so the shutter stayed open a little longer than usual, which gives the blury effect- I think it gives a good sense of just how crowded it was- it never stopped, either, since everything is open 24 hours! We finally pooped out and headed back to our hotel room just after midnight. (we never made it all the way to the end of the strip; my feet just couldn't handle it- leave it to me to wear a pair of tennis shoes I hadn't worn in a while to a place requiring lots of walking!)
And of course, the obligatory photo with the Michael Jackson and Elvis impersonators! The whole thing was just so surreal, I couldn't stop laughing!! Sunday morning the whirlwind trip continued- a wonderfully relaxing breakfast buffet (thank goodness I got to rest my feet!), a little more sightseeing, then we headed back to Arizona with a stop at the Hoover Dam. (I just realized, I never posted part 2 of the trip we took to the Midwest... I'll have to fix that soon, too.)