Category Archives: Photo Essay

Veterans Oasis Park, Chandler, Arizona

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.


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.


A little waterfall:


That’s a white-billed coot swimming below.


A mountain in the distance:




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



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


A nest:






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

A Walk in the Garden

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:


This is called desert rose:


Closeup of desert rose:


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


Beautiful inlaid tile mosaic in a garden wall:


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


and the Korean chives were especially lovely:


Hiking in the Arboretum

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.


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.



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.


Boyce Thompson Arboretum, hiking

My daughter Katie ahead of me on the trail.


An example of the lush forest.


Interesting rock formations.


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.



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.


Yours truly.


Garden path.







Shady path.


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


The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, Arizona

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.


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


My daughter Katie


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!






Japanese Friendship Garden; Phoenix Arizona





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


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


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


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




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.



Creative Juice #143

Creative Juice #143

Gorgeous ideas to jump-start your imagination.

Hiking in Usery Park

Hiking in Usery Park

A week and a half ago, my daughter Katie invited me to hiking with her in Usery Mountain Regional Park, part of the Maricopa County Park system. I’d never been there before, but I knew it was a favorite spot of a friend of mine, so I was happy to accept.

I’ve enjoyed my hikes in South Mountain Park, which I think is gorgeous, but Usery Park is much more beautiful, greener.


As we entered the park, we asked the attendant at the guard house where to find an easy trail for beginners (for me; I’ve only been hiking once since my emergency gall bladder surgery in April, and I wanted level ground). She recommended the Merkle Trail, which circles around a small mountain. We started on that, and immediately came to the Vista Trail, which went up the mountain, followed the ridge, and went down the other side. We decided to try it. The photo above was taken at the top. You can see the Merkle trail on the lower level.

The trail was rough and rocky in spots, but not too steep. There was one short stretch that was strenuous enough to get my heart pounding, but it was doable for an old lady like me. I brought my Sony Cyber-shot instead of my “good” camera, but it did a reasonable job of capturing the beautiful terrain.

Lots of cactus (click on the smaller photos to enlarge):


And we met a little friend. Katie thinks it’s a chuckwalla. I tried to walk around him and take a better picture, but he took off.


Here and there were some big outcroppings of rock.


Painted on the mountains in the distance is an arrow pointing the way to Phoenix. You can see it from the air on the way to Sky Harbor International Airport.

When we came down the mountain, we followed the Merkle Trail back to where we started.


I can’t wait to go back again.

Roses for Mother’s Day

Roses for Mother’s Day

When my youngest daughter, Katie, called me up last week and asked me what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day, I had an answer ready. “Let’s go to Mesa Community College and walk in the rose garden.”

Katie attended MCC in Mesa, Arizona, before she transferred to Arizona State University, but she’d never seen the rose garden. I had gone by myself a few years ago, but I’d only made it through half the garden–that’s how big it is. In fact, it’s the largest rose garden in the Southwest, with over 8,000 bushes.


And, of course, I brought my camera.

It’s astonishing how many different colors, shapes and sizes roses come in. Each one has its own fragrance. The people who develop new varieties are geniuses in my book. (Click on the smaller pictures to enlarge.)


Each bed is marked with the names of the varieties, but I didn’t trust myself to be able to match the name to the correct flower.




Here’s Katie:


And here’s me, enjoying the flowers. If you look carefully, you can see Katie reflected in my sunglasses.


Before we left, I wrote a “kind note” about our visit.


Then we went across the street to Pita Jungle for a Mother’s Day lunch.

Be sure to check out Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge.