CB&WPC: Tucson Fences & Gates

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is fences and gates.

I found some unique fences in Tucson, Arizona.

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This fence is made of ocotillo branches, woven together. Ocotillo is a type of desert plant like a cactus. Its long, thin branches grow upward from the ground, and each one contains prickly spines!

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My cousin lives in a cooperative community called Milagro. The houses are pretty much the same design, and this fence & gate is in front of one of her neighbor’s.


Rudimentary fence and fancy gate in the garden of the artist deGrazia’s studio.


We walked around an interesting neighborhood in Tucson with some creative gates, like this one. The fence itself is wire, blending in with the desert plants that climb up it.


This one was more conventional, but I liked the wreath (it was just before Christmas) and the fruit-laden orange trees!


Ultra modern, less inviting. You can’t see the house, giving the feeling that the residents want to keep people out!

January Square and One Word Sunday: Cacti & Petroglyphs in Saguaro National Park

We visited Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona late in the afternoon, where I got some great backlit shots of saguaro, such as this one:
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I am fascinated with saguaros, which are the trees of life in the Sonoran Desert, because of the interesting shapes that sprout as “arms” from their main trunk.
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Saguaros grow very slowly, so these photos are of cacti that are fairly old. These majestic giants live as long as 200 years!
The saguaro harbors a variety of life forms – such as woodpeckers (who make holes in their trunks) and elf owls (who live in the abandoned holes), as well as many others who shelter beneath the cactus – snakes, rodents, and other animals. Native American tribes traditionally collected the fruit of the saguaro, which was used in their diet. They would use long poles to get the fruit down or collect it after it fell to the ground.
During its long life, the saguaro stores water in the folds of its trunk and arms – the folds act like an accordion, expanding in years with more rainfall, and contracting in dry years.


Late in life, a saguaro may have many limbs, which form curves and other shapes.

Even when this giant dies, creatures take advantage of its large bulk, where they burrow and lay eggs. Native peoples stripped its stems and used them as building materials.

Note the tangle of curved arms in this saguaro!
Another interesting sight to explore at Saguaro National Park are the petroglyphs carved on rocks by ancient peoples who lived in the area.
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Swirls, curves, wheel-like circles, suns, animals, and other carvings were symbols which had religious or social meanings for their creators.
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Posted for:
Becky’s January Square – backlight.
One Word Sunday: Curve

WPC: Works of Art

Sue W.’s Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Work of Art.  Works of art are everywhere – an artist’s painting, a mural on a wall, a beautiful building, or natural works of art – a sunset, a rainbow, blooming flowers, animals – and animals creating their own works of art!  A work of art doesn’t have to be spectacular – it can be quite “ordinary” as long as it is aesthetically pleasing. Here are but a few samples of works of art I have photographed.

Artwork at the Art Institute of Chicago:


John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925), La Carmencita, 1890, oil on canvas




Charles White (American, 1918-?), Abraham Lincoln, 1952, Wolff crayon and charcoal on paperboard

Colorful mural on a wall in Des Moines, Iowa
Political art in a café, Des Moines, Iowa
Modern sculpture, Mason City, Iowa
Stockman House, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Mason City, Iowa

Nature’s works of art:
An arrangement of orchids at a supermarket
Lotus flower, Chicago Botanic Garden
Wild sunflowers in my neighbor’s garden – she looked at this scene and said she had a natural work of art right in her backyard!
Sunrise, Des Moines, Iowa (seen from our hotel room window)
Trees bending over and reflected in a creek, Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona
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Yellow-breasted weaver making a nest to attract a mate (not only is the bird a work of art, but he has created his own work of art in this intricate, tightly woven nest), Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Works of art can also be heard, rather than seen – here is violinist Joshua Bell playing “The Swan” by composer Camille Saint-Saens.



CFFC & Thursday Doors: Red Doors

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is RED. Since I have several photos of red doors, I am combining this with Norm’s Thursday Doors.

Des Plaines, Illinois: I love this house with its red door and matching light above. I met the owner, Bonnie, one day when she was working on her garden. I asked if I could take a photo of her house and she asked me what it was for. “I collect pictures of doors,” I told her! She told me she had purchased the light at an industrial goods store – it was metal and she spray painted it red. We talked for several minutes about her garden and her artistic endeavors. Very nice lady!

Highland Park, Illinois: I took my friend to a doctor’s appointment in Highland Park. I wanted to visit my niece who lives there, but she wasn’t home so I had time to kill. I walked around downtown Highland Park, taking photos of interesting things, especially doors, of course! The first photo is the front door of the Episcopal Church of Highland Park and the second is a barn-shaped shed in a park adjacent to the church.

Charleston, South Carolina: We took a road trip to Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA four years ago in early spring. The weather was unusually cold for that region but at least it wasn’t hurricane season! I am praying for my friends and residents of the Carolinas now as Hurricane Florence reaches their coastline! This big barn is where we began a carriage tour, pulled by a pair of mules, around Charleston’s historic center.

Houston, Texas: One of the most unusual art installations I have ever seen was the Orange Show in Houston.  I wrote a post about it last year. This is the entrance gate.

Tucson, Arizona: We had time to just wander around town on a rainy day in December. It cleared up enough to explore a couple of neighborhoods, where I took these photos. The second is my favorite because of the animals on the roof! This photo was taken in the predominantly Latino neighborhood south of downtown.
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Quebec City & Montreal, Quebec, Canada: The first photo was taken in Quebec City – this building had sets of doors three stories up. The post sticking out on top was used as pulleys to bring up goods delivered from wagons. The doors would be opened to bring them in. The second photo is a restaurant in the historic part of Montreal. I wrote a post about Quebec and another about the doors of old Montreal.

Lübeck, Germany: This is a charming small city near the Baltic coast of Germany, famous for marzipan. I wrote about this town in a post about our shore excursion walking tour in August of 2015. This is the entrance to a pharmacy.20150808_043630

Lens Artists Challenge: Time to Relax

Lens Artist Photo Challenge this week is Time to Relax.

It’s time to relax when classes are over for the school year.


Northwestern students relaxing in hammocks in the park, Evanston, Illinois

It’s time to relax after having lunch on Mother’s Day.


My son Jayme behind and in between my sister Mary and our friend Sandy.

It’s time to relax on a hot day when you have nothing to do but immerse yourself in a cool pond with your herd.


Hippo pool in the Serengeti, Tanzania

It’s time to relax when your tummy’s full and you’re done hunting for awhile.


Lion, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

It’s time to relax on a cold day when you find a nice warm spot on the radiator.


My cat Hazel on a January afternoon

It’s time to relax with a magazine after a full day of sightseeing.


Me in our hotel room in Tucson, Arizona

Taking time to relax and unwind is, I believe, a necessity in our overly rushed society!

WPC: Twisted

When I saw that the theme of WP’s Weekly Photo Challenge this week was twisted, I immediately thought of two things: trees and cactus.

Winter is a good time to photograph twisted branches.
IMAG0157Springtime in the parkWillow tree, West Park, DPSometimes even trees need a hug!
I liked the knot in this tree!There’s a bird hiding in this tangle of branches!KODAK Digital Still CameraAt Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona, the mighty saguaro starts growing arms when it is about 60 years of age and these arms twist every which way as they grow!
Saguaros live up to 200 years of age, sometimes older. They provide shelter and sustenance for many species of animals.20151217_172406Anther twisty cactus is common throughout southern Arizona, but I don’t remember its name.20151215_110242Photos taken in Des Plaines, a state park in Indiana, Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson) and Saguaro National Park West (Tucson). 

Finally, a video by the band Twisted Sister, We’re Not Gonna Take It.


CFFC: Up and Down We Wander

Ways to go up and down outside is Cee’s theme this week for her Fun Foto Challenge.

I think I would be too chicken to go up in a hot air balloon, but an enclosed cable car or funicular is fun.

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Cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Funicular from lower Old Quebec to upper Old Quebec, Quebec City, Canada

Many of the people going from upper to lower (or vice versa) Quebec opt for the stairs, as can be seen by the crowd of people ascending or descending the stairway near the funicular.
20171006_135914I use stairs as much as possible, even if I have to stop in the middle to catch my breath. Five years ago, I climbed these stairs – easier then than it would be now!

Monk Mound, Cahokia Mounds State Park, Illinois (looking up)



Looking down from the top of Monk Mound, Cahokia Mounds State Park, Illinois

Hiking is a lot more my style, especially when the path is smooth! We took a tram into Sabino Canyon in Tucson, Arizona and walked back, mostly uphill but easy, with beautiful views.DSC_0742
In Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in western North Dakota, we took a path up to a look-out point at the top of a canyon.  This is the path itself…

At the top, we saw this view looking down. The path in this picture is NOT the one we took! (Ours was much shorter; we drove halfway up.)  The park has many beautiful hiking trails for those younger and more fit than we are.  If you are one of them, be on the lookout for bison and wild horses. We saw both!
We reached the summit, where we took photos, videos and admired the views. It was VERY windy up there!
20170527_112754It’s definitely worth going up, no matter how you do it because the views are spectacular. But what goes up must come down and go home! These photos were taken in my neighborhood in Des Plaines.



A house with not one, but TWO stairways to the front door! I don’t suppose this house is handicapped accessible.


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Children’s favorite way to go up and down! On a playground with slides, jungle gyms and swings!  These are at West Park, Des Plaines, Illinois.


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A funky little ladder someone had left against a tree on my street.