Category Archives: Photo Essay

Words Over Water

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These tiles are embeded in a wall at Tempe Town Lake:

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Tempe Mill Avenue Bridges

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Tempe Crew
Photo by C. Edward Brice on December 29, 2010. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.

A lot has changed since we moved to Tempe, Arizona thirty-three years ago. Back in the day, there was only one Mill Avenue bridge (if you don’t count the railroad bridge just a little further to the west). It was built in 1931 to cross the Salt River. Now, when we came to Tempe, the Salt River had no water in it, because in the early 1900s it was diverted by dams into reservoirs, providing water for the greater Phoenix metropolitan area through canals built along irrigation ditches first engineered by the native Hohokam people almost two thousand years ago. But occasionally, the reservoirs rose too high, and water was released into the river bed.

As the Phoenix area developed and became more populated, the Mill Avenue bridge, only one lane in each direction, was no longer adequate for the flow of traffic. It was decided to to use the existing bridge for southbound traffic, and build a second bridge to the east for northbound travel. Construction started in 1990.

But in 1993, the city experienced a “hundred year flood,” and the Salt River raged. The force of the water tore down scaffolding and concrete forms on the not-yet-completed bridge. Nevertheless, the new bridge was repaired and ready for service in 1994.

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New bridge on the left, old bridge on the right.

The new bridge is decorated with a symbol also found on the Arizona state flag:

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In 1999, an area of the riverbed was dammed to create Tempe Town Lake. The artificial lake is the centerpiece of a development project that includes corporate offices and high-rise apartment buildings. Residents and visitors can use the lake for paddle boarding, rowing, kayaking, and urban fishing.

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I wish I’d had the foresight to come out here twenty years ago and photograph what the skyline of Tempe looked like with all the quaint old historic buildings that used to be visible from the shore. Now the modern high-rises dominate the landscape.

But I captured a picture of the old Hayden Flour Mill and silos, built in 1911. It’s the tall white building below:

Hayden Mill

In the picture below, four bridges are visible–the underside of the new bridge, the old bridge, and beyond it, the Phoenix Light Rail bridge, and a railroad bridge:

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The Light Rail bridge opened in 2008:

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Phoenix Light Rail trains on bridge.

A better view of the railroad bridge, built in 1915 and damaged in 2020 when a train derailed and burned:

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Exposed wooden ties on the underside of the railroad bridge:

Underside of railroad bridge

A little further west, a pedestrian bridge by the Tempe Center for the Arts (below, left):

Tempe Center for the Arts

Swallows built nests on the underside of the old Mill Avenue Bridge. I didn’t see any swallows.

Swallow nests under the bridge

One final view of the old Mill Avenue Bridge, with Tempe Butte (“A” Mountain) almost completely obscured in the background.

Mill Ave Bridge

Except for the first photo, all images in this article by ARHuelsenbeck.

Photo Essay: ASU Research Park

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Photo Essay: ASU Research Park

Once upon a time, Arizona State University had an experimental farm. (E-I-E-I-O.) in 1974, the agricultural program disbanded, and in 1984, the 320-acre property was repurposed as a research park. 48 companies now have facilities there, employing 6,000 people.

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The park is beautifully landscaped. Its centerpiece is a lake where catch-and-release fishing is permitted. It’s also a lovely place to shoot photographs.

Hummingbirds flit from blossom to blossom.

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A waterfall splashes at one end of the lake.

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Plants thrive at the water’s edge. (Click on the smaller images to enlarge.)

Ducks and geese enjoy the surroundings.

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A pavilion offers a shady spot to rest. The sunlight filtering through the support structure casts an interesting patterned shadow.

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Nearby, a water feature adds its music.

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St. Joseph’s Hospital

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St. Joseph’s Hospital

On March 11, just as concern about the coronavirus was taking off, my husband had spinal surgery through Barrow Neurological Institute, which is housed at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Although it should have been a very short stay, my husband ran into complications, and he ended up staying two weeks, and then transferring to a skilled nursing facility. I spent many hours there the first week, and then visitors were barred.

In 1892, a group of Sisters of Mercy arrived in Phoenix to open a school. They recognized a need for a tuberculosis treatment center, so they raised money to start a hospital, which became St. Joseph’s. The first St. Joe’s was located in a former home in 1895. The current St. Joe’s was opened in 1953, though it’s expanded over the years.

Because I went to an elementary school that was run by Sisters of Mercy, I felt like I was coming home to my roots in the hospital. It’s one of the most beautiful hospitals I’ve ever seen, with artwork and Sisters of Mercy memorabilia. For example, I was familiar with this photograph in the lobby:

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Here is an Orthodox-style icon of Mother McCauley. She is on the path to canonization in the Catholic Church.

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And as a child I wanted this doll, dressed in my teachers’ habit:

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Here is a chalice that is part of the exhibit:

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The hospital also displays vintage photographs of life in Phoenix:

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And gorgeous sculpture:

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And scripture (paraphrased) on the wall:

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And an appropos verse from the Koran:

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One day it poured while I was there. This was the view from Greg’s room, complete with rainbow:

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Here are two views of St. Joseph’s statue in front of the hospital:

As I write this, Greg is still in the skilled nursing facility, but he is slowly improving, and I hope he will be home soon.

My Favorite Photos of 2019

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I had opportunities to take a couple thousand pictures this year, so it was hard to pick just 10. Most of these favorites  I’ve posted previously, but some have never been seen by anybody before. I admit some are flawed, but I like them anyway, sometimes because of their quirkiness.

I did a lot of hiking this year in desert parks. I just love the look and feel of wilderness. This picture was taken at Boyce Thompson Arboretum:

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A blooming cactus at North Mountain Park:

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A tree covered with blossoms on the grounds of the Arizona Renaissance Festival:

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Every February, wildflowers blanket a yard in my town:

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This is an icon in a Greek Orthodox monastery chapel. I purposely took this photo at a wonky angle, because of the candle holder hanging in front of the painting. I wanted to get a good shot of the mother’s sweet face, but it caused the Baby to look distorted:

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This was taken in South Mountain Park:

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A perfect red rose at the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College:

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These wildflowers in my yard grew from an unsolicited packet of seeds sent through the mail from the Sierra Club:

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I shot these cactus flowers in my neighborhood on my morning walk:

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My daughter Katie on the footbridge at Boyce Thompson Arboretum:

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In Search of Autumn Leaves

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In Search of Autumn Leaves

When you live just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, you don’t see a lot of fall leaves. So last Friday my daughter Katie and I traveled an hour to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, one of our favorite spots for hiking and for picture taking, to see if we could find some. The Arboretum officially celebrates its Fall Foliage Finale on Thanksgiving weekend, but we purposely waited a week to avoid the crowds. We took the High Trail into the wilder part of the Arboretum to get a nice workout.

Even before we reached the trail, we were rewarded with orange and yellow hues, but most of the trees were green. I don’t know if most of the trees in the Arboretum just don’t change, or if our night temperatures in the 40s just aren’t cool enough to trigger death.

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Photo by Katie Huelsenbeck

 

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As you can see, our skies were cloudy, which doesn’t often happen here. In fact, we’ve had very few rainy days this year until recently. (As I’m writing this on Monday afternoon, hail is failing outside my window and lightning and thunder are making their presence known.)

Here’s Katie crossing a stream. (Last time we were at the Arboretum, the stream was dry.)

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Just beyond the stream was a magnificent example of autumn color.

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The views on the high trail were gorgeous.

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Crossing the stream on an extension footbridge:

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Katie on the bridge.

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On the other side of the bridge, the trails are more civilized.

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Look at the blazing colors on this tree:

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Katie:

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And me, with trekking pole:

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Photo by Katie Huelsenbeck

A little stone cottage:

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A pomegranate:

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Look at the gnarly trunk of this tree:

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And look at this crazy curlicue branch:

 

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This little boy and his donkey are sculptures:

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My daughter took this photo with her phone. Doesn’t she have a great eye?

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Photo by Katie Huelsenbeck

This was our third trip to the Arboretum together. You can see pictures of our other trips here and here.

Unless stated otherwise, photographs in this article are by ARHuelsenbeck.

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, the 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.