Thursday, January 28, 2016

Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well

While doing research of other places to visit within driving distance of  Scottsdale, Arizona, we came upon two spots that intrigued our interest--  Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well.  The National Park Service maintains these special places for generations to enjoy.  We also visited Sedona on this day and I will be sharing that beautiful place with you soon.

Montezuma Castle is located in the Verde Valley and was home to the Sinagua.  Prior to them, hunters and gatherers lived in this valley for thousands of years.  Agriculture and architecture emerged when the Hohokam and Northern Sinagua lived on this land.

Sinagua farmers built a five story twenty room dwelling around 1100-1300.

This cliff dwelling is one hundred feet above ground level.  Early American settlers thought this was Aztec and therefore named it Montezuma Castle! 

 As we meandered along the walkway in the valley, two hawks were circling above.

The valley is home to Beaver Creek that provided essential water for crops and for the people.

This area is so peaceful and cool with lovely vegetation and a cooling breeze from Beaver Creek.

After leaving Montezuma Castle we went to Sedona (that I will share later) and then onto Montezuma Well.

Just eighty yards from the Ranger Station up a walkway on a very hot afternoon we are amazed at  the sight that is before us!

Up the hill a little ways we climb over flat rocks to see the huge well.

This beautiful oasis in the desert is quite surprising!  Native Americans lived and worked in this area and considered it sacred and still do.

It's difficult to tell, but this body of water contains over 15 million gallons of water!  How can this be in an area that barely gets 13 inches of rain a year?  More than 10,000 years ago the Well's water fell as rain and snow atop the Mogollom Rim.  It has dripped through the rocks and through the years found its way to the cavern!  Water still flows into the Well every day!  New water finds its way (1.5 million gallons) each day!

As we walked around the edge we view ancient cliff dwellings.  We learned that the Hohokam probably lived here. They learned to use the water from the well to irrigate corn, beans and squash.  They made canals here thousands of years ago!  This is just amazing to me!

By the 1100's the Sinagua began building small dwellings in the cliffs.  They had more than 30 rooms along the rim.

In the 1400's most of the natives has moved to other places.  The rooms stood empty.  Descendants of the builders of these cliffs still return to this sacred place.  The Hopi, the Zuni, and the Yavapai still pass down to their generations oral histories of this well and its importance to their heritage. The Apache also have great reverence for this area.

Montezuma Well has been a surprising place to visit.  I learned so much about ancient people that I knew existed, but never really studied.  What a glorious place!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blizzard of January 2016

I'm hoping all you friends that endured the blizzard, Jonas, are safe and well as we all recover from our storm.  There have been various accumulations recorded up and down the east coast.  As well as we can tell, we have at least 20 inches of snow.  There are drifts that measure much more than that!  As our record I wanted to post a few photos for us.  If you are sick of looking at snow you are welcome to move on to another blog.  

The storm began around 12:30 pm Friday with just light snow falling.  Within an hour the snow began in earnest!  In a couple of hours we had a snow covered patio.

Snow continued through the evening and into Saturday and by nightfall we really had some snow!

The sun was shining so lovely on the fresh fallen snow this morning!

During the storm the snow was so beautiful, but visibility was limited.

Before the storm we made sure the feeders were full of seed for the birds.

The storm was passing to the north and the full wolf moon was beginning to show her beautiful face!

The boxwoods are feeling the weight of the snow, even though it was a very dry powdery one!

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though; 
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. 

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Robert Frost

There is something about a snowstorm that brings us into the quiet of our homes.  Simple pleasures to quiet our thoughts and our minds.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Taliesin West

Today as we are on the eve of a blizzard, I thought it would be nice to take you to a very warm place in the desert.  Taliesen West, was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright.  It is now the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.  On my birthday and anniversary in October we booked a tour of this most wonderful place!

Taliesin West sits in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains near Scottsdale, Arizona.  Mr. Wright started building his winter home in 1937 with the help of his apprentices and other craftsmen.  Taliesin East was Mr. Wright's home in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

There are timed tours that we booked before leaving home, so we went into the reception center/ book store to get our tickets and wait for our guide.

Our guide began by telling us some information on Frank Lloyd Wright and his philosophy about building.

Mr. Wright started his career working for Louis Sullivan.  Frank Lloyd Wright learned much from his time working at that firm, but began to do jobs on the side.  This was frowned upon by the Adler and Sullivan firm and they decided to fire him.  So Mr. Wright ventured out on his own!  Prairie Style or organic architecture is what he became famous for.  He used what was locally available as far as materials.  Never wanting to take away from the natural beauty of the landscape, Mr. Wright's Taliesin West fits beautifully into the mountainside.  The many stones you see in this home came from the property.  He felt very strongly about using the materials from the land, if at all possible.

Mr. Wright  loved angles and it is quite evident here at Taliesin West.  Geometric shapes appealed to him.  He said the the circle was infinity, and the triangle was unity in structure, and the spire was aspiration, and the spiral was organic progress, and the square was integrity. 

  In his office we were told that he never had a telephone for his business and really didn't want electricity. He was born June 8, 1867 and died  April 9, 1959.  Frank Lloyd Wright's mother, Anna Lloyd Wright, was from a large Welsh family.  To honor his Welsh heritage he named his home Taliesin, which means "shining brow" in Welsh.  As I look at Taliesin I can see why he chose that name.  Of course Taliesin East was built first.  You can go HERE to see the similarities to the placement of the home into the hillside.

“No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.”

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Mr. Wright loved to sit outside in the evenings and gaze at the valley.  We noted the utility poles and wondered what he thought of them.  The small brown poles were the ones that he began to see in the 1940's.  He despised them so much he appealed to President Harry Truman to have the lines put underground.  Unfortunately President Truman was a little busy at the time and his appeal was refused.  Wright considered moving Taliesin to Tucson, but instead moved the entrance to the front of the building and declared never to look at the valley again!

Small brown poles not the large ones that Wright objected to


There are many objects of art around the property that were quite interesting.

We were directed into the Seminar Theater.  We learned about his use of glass in his design.

He was a pioneer in the use of glass as part of the structure.

Keep in mind that Frank Lloyd Wright was 70 years old when he built Taliesin West.  Our guide pointed out the fact that we are never too old to do great things!

The grounds around Taliesin West are just lovely.  Flowers and trees and lovely sculptures and very interesting architecture.

The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture was about to begin their new semester here at Taliesin West.  The students would be flying in on the weekend.  Our guide told us that each student would be designing a structure.  There is a dormitory on the grounds for the students or they could stay in a tepee.  The reason for staying in a tepee was to get close to nature and then build their design.

It was wonderful to visit Taliesin West!  Thank you for coming along!


Monday, January 18, 2016

Needle Felting

At the start of the new year I knew I wanted to learn how to needle felt.  I've always enjoyed having a craft to work on in the winter.  Spring, summer and fall always finds me in the garden working on a bed here or there.  But in winter I enjoy doing handwork.  I used to do cross stitch and embroidery as well as sewing.  Wanting to try something different, I thought needle felting might appeal to me.

When we were in England last year we saw the most gorgeous sheep doting the landscape in the beautiful dry stacked stone walls.  I wanted a souvenir of our time and something to remember our time there always pointed to sheep for me.  I searched the shops while we were there and never found the right little lamb to bring home.

If we had the property to have animals, I would have sheep.  Yes I would.  Well, in the real world I don't live on acres of land, but maybe I can needle felt a few sheep.

There are dozens of tutorials on Youtube about needle felting.  Even ones that show how to needle felt a little lamb.  After looking at the tutorials, I was ready to give it a try.  Finding supplies proved to be my biggest challenge.  Only one of the local craft stores carries a limited supply of needle felting materials.   The number of supplies needed is quite minimal.  Just roving wool and felting needles and a foam pad.  My kind of craft, I think.  I bought a package of roving wool and a gadget that holds six felting needles.  The store didn't have single needles.

So off I go into my first project to make a little lamb.  My little lamb came together and was easy to fashion as the tutorial prescribed.  I was jabbing away as one does to felt the wool and my needles began to break.  I broke everyone of the six needles that came with my gadget.  I ordered a set of needles online and was disappointed to learn that it would be 2 weeks before delivery.  While waiting for the needles I did more research and learned that my technique needed perfecting to avoid breaking them. The right gauge needle is important as well.

After receiving my needles I finished my little lamb and made a little black faced one as well.  I think I'm hooked. 

 It's fun to sit in the afternoon or evenings and make a little creature that brings my thoughts back to England.