Category Archives: Photo Essay

St. Anthony’s Monastery, Part 3: The Gardens

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St. Anthony’s Monastery, Part 3: The Gardens

St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery is located in the desert outside Florence, Arizona. The monastery’s water comes from three wells, each a quarter-mile deep, which turn the grounds into an oasis.

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I’ve never seen bougainvillea this color.

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Adding to the beauty of the plants are the many outdoor structures and decorative brickwork.

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And the fountains.

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And the statuary.

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The monks also grow several kinds of citrus, and olives.

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For more pictures of St. Anthony’s Monastery, check out these articles about the doors,┬áthe architecture, and the icons.

St. Anthony’s Monastery, Part 2: The Iconography

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St. Anthony’s Monastery, Part 2: The Iconography

One of the highlights of the trip to St. Anthony’s Monastery is the many icons displayed in the church and the chapels. They were brought over from Greece. Some of them look to me like hand-painted originals, others like fine art reproductions, though I don’t know for sure. I don’t remember in which buildings most of these icons were located.

I’ve written about icons before, but I’ve never been where so many are displayed in one place. I’m fascinated by this Greek and Eastern Orthodox art form honoring Jesus, the saints, and the patriarchs. I hesitate to identify most of the images below, because I’d just be guessing. I am not knowledgeable about the symbolism, and I don’t read Greek, so I can’t decipher the writing on the icons.

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In many of the icons, the thumb of the right hand (or both hands) touches the tip of the ring finger. I wonder what the significance of that is.

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The picture below reminds me very much of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

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Look at the eyes in the cup below.

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Is it just me, or are a lot of the faces below the same?

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Lovely mosaic:

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The icon below is also a mosaic. I’m pretty sure this is St. George. He’s defeating the dragon. And it’s located just outside the St. George Chapel.

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The next three pictures are closeups of St. George so you can see the details. Amazing craftsmanship.

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The following two mosaic angels are on the exterior of the St. George Chapel.

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I love the Madonna and Child below. Any parent will recognize the backward arching of the infant.

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I took another picture at an angle, because I wanted to get the Mother’s sweet face without the hanging candle holder right in front of it. Unfortunately, the angle caused a distortion that makes the Baby look all wonky.

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This magnificent painted crucifix is in St. Seraphim’s Chapel.

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This icon is also in St. Seraphim’s Chapel. Could it be Seraphim himself? Isn’t it interesting that there are notes stuck behind the picture? Could they be prayer requests?

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I’ve also posted articles about some doors and the architecture at St. Anthony’s Monastery. I’m planning to post another article on Saturday showing photos of the Monastery gardens.

St. Anthony’s Monastery, Part 1: The Architecture

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The main church, St. Anthony’s

In the summer of 1995, six monks traveled from Mount Athos in Greece to the Arizona desert to build a monastery. They acquired 165 acres outside Florence, Arizona, and began construction. Today, St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery houses 65 monks.

The monastery is truly an oasis in the desert, physically and spiritually. Portions of the facility are open to the public. There is a strict dress code, and visitors are asked not to engage the monks.

In case you’re interested, on Thursday I posted some pictures of doors on the monastery grounds.

After a brief orientation with a monastery book store volunteer, the first stop on the self-guided tour is the main church, St. Anthony’s. A pair of gold-painted lions flank the front door.

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The interior is highly ornamented in the Byzantine style. The altar is located behind the red curtain and is off-limits to visitors.

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The candles in the massive brass chandelier are lit on major feast days.

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Tall wooden seats line the walls of the church. Normally, worshippers stand during the service, but they can lower the seats and sit if necessary.

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The floors are mostly plain tiles, with a few areas of decorative motifs including marble and granite.

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Some additional furnishings in the church. (Click on the smaller images to enlarge and see captions.)

Monastery; angel candlestick

An angel adorns a tall standing candlestick.

There are several chapels on the monastery campus. Below is St. Nicholas’ Chapel.

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Look at the beautiful detailing of the tower.

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The two photographs below are of the interior of St. Nicholas’ Chapel.

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Below is St. George’s Chapel, built in the Romanian style.

 

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Here is another view, showing the main entrance.

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The chapel has a magnificent wooden ceiling

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and a lovely carved and painted wooden crucifix in the Greek Orthodox style.

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Look at the lovely hand-embroidered hardanger curtain in the window.

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St. Demetrios’ Chapel’s architecture is reminiscent of rural Russia.

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The interior is small, but lovely.

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An icon rests on an expertly carved stand.

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I have lots more pictures of the monastery–enough for two more posts next week.

Veterans Oasis Park, Chandler, Arizona

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Veterans Oasis Park, Chandler, Arizona

My friend Linda recently posted photographs of her granddaughter on Facebook that she took at Veterans Oasis Park. I’d never heard of the park, so I looked it up. It turns out it’s just 2 1/2 miles from the school where I taught for eight years. I never knew.

The park features an urban fishing lake stocked by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. I took all these photographs around the perimeter of the lake.

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Chandler is a suburban area with more than 250,000 residents. I love that it sets aside wild areas like this for the enjoyment (and education) of its citizens.

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A little waterfall:

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That’s a white-billed coot swimming below.

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A mountain in the distance:

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I saw white ducks, mallards, and coots in the water. Stilts and herons also frequent the lake, but I didn’t see any.

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Someone tossed bread into the water (I don’t think you’re supposed to do that) and minnows came to nibble on it.

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A nest:

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I plan to go back again some day and explore the other trails in the park.

A Walk in the Garden

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A Walk in the Garden

 

 

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, that is. My daughter Katie recently invited me to be her guest there. We saw loads of gorgeous cactus (click on smaller photos to enlarge and see captions):

And lots of wildflowers (at least, I think they are wildflowers; if I’m wrong, please tell me):

I think these are orchids:

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This is called desert rose:

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Closeup of desert rose:

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Parts of the garden are sort of wild and natural; other parts have paths and lighting.

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Beautiful inlaid tile mosaic in a garden wall:

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We were there on a Friday morning. It was so peaceful.

One section of the garden features vegetables and herbs. I thought the squash blossoms

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and the Korean chives were especially lovely:

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Hiking in the Arboretum

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Hiking in the Arboretum

Two Fridays ago my daughter Katie invited me to go hiking with her at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It had been three months since the last time I’d hiked, so I was interested in an easy trail. In Katie’s memory, the High Trail at the arboretum was fairly level.

But to this old lady, it wasn’t. Not that it’s steep, but there are plenty of rises and dips, lots of rocks and steps. I was glad I’d brought my trekking pole; I couldn’t have made it without it.

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The Arboretum is located on 392 acres adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. Its landscape is desert, plus hardy trees and beautiful flowers. Many of the trees have been transplanted from other locations.

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We were fortunate to be there on a Friday, because we had the place seemingly to ourselves. There were plenty of cars in the ample parking, but the arboretum is large enough that you’re not bumping into the other visitors. On the weekends I believe there are larger crowds.

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Boyce Thompson Arboretum, hiking

My daughter Katie ahead of me on the trail.

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An example of the lush forest.

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Interesting rock formations.

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A fallen tree in the eucalyptus forest. Look at the root structure.

We’ve had an unusually dry summer, even for Arizona. Usually we have monsoons in July, and this little stream would actually have water in it.

 

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All the pictures up to this point were taken by me. Unfortunately, my camera’s battery ran out halfway through our hike. Luckily, Katie took some gorgeous pictures with her phone that she was willing to share. All the rest of the pictures in this post are hers.

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Yours truly.

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Garden path.

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Butterflies!

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Wildflowers.

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Shady path.

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Here you can see the roughness of the trail. Not horrible, but not smooth, either.

 

The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, Arizona

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The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix enjoys a Sister City relationship with Himeji, Japan. In 1987, the mayor of Himeji proposed building a classic Japanese garden in Phoenix to celebrate its friendship.

The garden is an oasis of serenity and beauty in the midst of the desert metropolis. Despite its location near a busy interstate freeway, bustle and stress are banned from the garden. Their photography policy forbids professional photo shoots during regular visiting hours. Casual photography is permitted, with the condition that it does not detract from the enjoyment of other patrons.

I did take a lot of pictures when my daughter Katie and I visited there last Friday evening, but I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible.

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This building houses the rest rooms–the prettiest rest rooms I’ve ever seen.

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My daughter Katie

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The Garden is also home to ducks.

The structures in the park bring to mind Japan’s rich history and culture. I especially admire the way the trees and bushes are pruned, like bonsai. They remind me of the artwork on Japanese scrolls. (Click on the smaller pictures to enlarge.)

And the pond! So carefully landscaped with plants and boulders and waterfalls!

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Japanese Friendship Garden; Phoenix Arizona

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But the stars of the pond are the koi who thrive there. Some are more than 18 inches long.

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Below is the Tea House. Traditional tea ceremonies are offered monthly.

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This sculpture represents the Shachi, a mythical creature with the face of a dragon and the body of a fish:

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I have no idea what these plants are, but I found them lovely and interesting:

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Close up of previous plant

The Japanese Friendship Garden is closed during the months of August and September, so I was glad we got to see it last weekend. It will be an especially lovely and tranquil spot to bring visitors from out of town.

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Pagoda