Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The East Valley Up Close

How often do you really take a good look at your neighborhood? You may notice a new bench in the park, or a new tree planted in a nearby yard, but do you ever look at what else those items can be?

As children, we all looked toward the heavens, back to the grass and identified images from puffy white clouds. Why stop then or there? 

A while back I was in a department store and on display were word pictures, only the words were not written or typed. The words were made from organic and inorganic objects, often seen in your neighborhood. A door handle bends to the letter J, railroad tracks stretch to E and a water tower is a mighty tall A.

I took a really good look at my neighborhood and I found some great 'letters.' But not only did I practice using a creative eye, I became more familiar with the places I drive, work and walk by on a daily basis. I'm not a photographer and do not claim these pictures are of any high standards, but I do remember where and when they were taken and how much I enjoyed noticing the East Valley up close. 
I expanded my neighborhood. 
I even found a few new favorite spots.

Below are just a few examples of the letters I found. If you are at these same places, see if you can find what I found and see what else you can identify. 

Today's post is brought to you by the letters E, V and G.

Canopy above the train
Freestone Park
Gilbert, AZ

Public Art
Phoenix Zoo
Phoenix, AZ (Phoenix is not technically East Valley, but I consider the zoo close enough)

Ferris Wheel at traveling carnival
Parking lot at Gilbert Rd and Vaughn Rd.
Gilbert, AZ

Gate handle
Villa Siena
Gilbert, AZ

Wooden fence overlooking McDowell Mountain Golf Course
Thompson Peak Parkway and 100th St.
Scottsdale, AZ

Window Panes 
Arabian Library
Scottsdale, AZ

Freestone Park
Gilbert, AZ

Railroad Tracks
Freestone Park
Gilbert, AZ

Fire Table
Gold Canyon Resort
Gold Canyon, AZ

Phoenix Zoo
Phoenix, AZ

Decorative door, back of McGrath's Fish House (Now R.T. O'Sullivan's Sport's Grill)
Stapley Dr and the 60
Mesa, AZ

Bottom left corner of Coca-Cola sign
Joe's Real BBQ
Gilbert, AZ

Wooden Fence
Shenandoah Mill
Gilbert, AZ

Bridge Roof
Market Street at DC Ranch
Scottsdale, AZ

Mom's house (awe)
Mesa, AZ

Downtown Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

Neon Light 
Joe's Real BBQ
Gilbert, AZ

Train station clock
Freestone Park
Gilbert, AZ

Villa Siena
Gilbert, AZ

St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church
Gilbert, AZ

Carousel Horse
Freestone Park
Gilbert, AZ

Love sign
Civic Center Mall
Scottsdale, AZ

Water Wheel

Shenandoah Mill
Gilbert, AZ

Public Art
Civic Center Mall
Scottsdale, AZ

Street Light
Park 'N Ride
Gilbert, AZ

I would love to see your Z! 

And of course, this goes without saying, but please do not use these photographs in any commercial work, website or blog without giving proper ownership. That would be me- East Valley Girl.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Long Lost Letter

I'm on a mission. 

But before I get to that, I have to tell you that your local library is a treasure trove of valuables waiting to be found. I don't think the Lost Dutchman gold is at the AJ Library, but I've found some pretty interesting things over the years working in, by and around books.

For example, I found the best manicotti recipe on a recipe postcard in a library book. True story. (Actually, it was in a novel. What? Not funny?) I still use it to this day. Also, we found two really cute stuffed monkeys with magnets in their hands. Oddly, we also found a baby doll's head next to them. That was kind of creepy. What was even creepier was the act of my co-workers placing the doll's head over one of the monkey's head, giving him a grass skirt and calling him Little Hula Baby Monkey. I also found a great pair of Fossil sunglasses in the library lost and found and wore them to my brother's wedding. (No one had claimed them for over three month, so I figured it was time they had a new home.) Oh, and the wedding was outside. I'm not one of those jerks who wears sunglasses inside. Outside weddings in Arizona call for sunglasses.

But we've also found some really great pictures, bookmarks and sentimental items. And yesterday I found a letter. From 1983. From Australia.

Air Mail for Stephanie Frank

From Jamie to Stephanie
If you're like me, you can write cursive but reading takes longer. Transcribed:

Dear Stephanie,
Hi! We are in Australia. We found a house and will be moving in Feb. 15th. So be sure to write me! Does Shannon still like John? My dad was going to put me in a private school with all girls (bore city) but couldn't find one so I'm gonna go to a public school. The school year starts tomorrow but I'm not starting until we move in. I miss you and everyone at school so much! Well, be sure to write me. My address is- (I've covered the address because that's what people tend to do online with addresses)
We are living in a suburb called St. Ives. Well, please write! I can hardly wait to come back for Christmas!
Love, Jaime.

There are so many reasons why I love this letter! I love that it's been to Australia, I love that it is still in really good condition and I love that most likely preteens wrote this. "Bore city?" "Does Shannon still like John?" Classic. And of course, you cannot ignore the 1981 mouse under toadstool stationary!

But what are the things that it does not say? How did this letter get in the old west coffee table book that was donated to a library in Arizona? Are Shannon and John married with four kids? Why did Jamie and her family move from Texas to Australia? Are Stephanie and Jamie still friends? Did she ever attend a private school in Australia? Does Jamie have a koala for a pet?

My mission, albeit with a low probability of success, is to find Stephanie or Jamie. Wouldn't that be great? Unless they had a major falling out and don't want anything to do with one another and my handing this letter to one of them on their doorstep would have the opposite reaction to a Publisher's Clearing House reaction.

So Stephanie Frank of Kingwood, Texas and Jamie of St. Ives, New South Wales- I have a prize you may want to claim. It doesn't come with money, but I'll have it attached to a whole bunch of balloons.

Side note:
If you are curious, I kept one of the monkeys and moved to a different library. My current coworkers are not sick and actually take rather good care of Mr. Monkey. They even made him an Olympic Gold medalist in diving.
Mr. Monkey on the proudest day of his life

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sedona and Flagstaff Daycation

As stated in previous post, Hubby and I went to nearby Sedona and Flagstaff last Sunday. Our friends were great, but there were some rather, how shall I say, odd, patches.

For example, we tried to be good little Catholic kids and go to mass, but apparently they have not had 7:00am mass for "years." Thanks parents. Could have used that info. Oh, and they are "closed Sunday.*

So then we went to Chompies for breakfast and I was ├╝ber looking forward to a bialy (no, I can't explain to you or Hubby what the difference between that and a bagel is) but the cooks got there late which meant they had no bialys. Instead, I took all of their flavored creamer. That will show them.**

We were on our way. We had a nice drive. Super great.

We first stopped at Chapel of the Holy Cross but were more interested in that HUGE mansion at the base of it. Have you seen that thing? It's over 8,000 sq ft with a constantly maintained Japanese garden. Our friend said last time he was here, he overheard a tour guide say it belonged to a celebrity chef. 

I whipped out the camera to take some pictures and what do you know, "batteries exhausted." Nerds. Luckily Hubby is every ready and prepared for just about all occasions (don't get him started on the Zombie Apocalypse) and we filled 'er up back in the car.*** For your viewing enjoyment, I drew a to-scale picture of what the mansion looks like so you can enjoy it's opulence. I know, I know. I missed my calling. 

So I have no pictures of the chapel, or the ostentatious mansion or a picture of the tour guide we passed dressed in cowboy garb, a gilded gold gun with a bullet belt telling a bunch of older people that the mansion belonged to a Lasik patent holder who was born in Bosnia and has Canadian residency. Why is the owner of the house urban legend? We just want to know who the real owner is so we can befriend him and allow him to leave a nice inheritance to us. That's all we ask. Oh yeah, I learned nothing about the chapel, but hoped our being at another Catholic location made up for the no-mass that day.

Next, we stopped at Taco Pocket. I had never been before. It's a nice little area with shops and galleries and a courtyard for hairy gypsies to dance, rub their tattooed bellies and swing hula hoops from their necks. I'm sorry, that was very rude of me- the real name of the place is Tlaquepaque. The first time it was mentioned, I heard "Taco Pocket," and I thought we were going to a giant chalupa.

Gypsies at Taco Pocket
If you think the very tanned man is wearing a scarf, you are wrong. His neck and arm pieces are all connected with a half shirt in the front. I'm very sad he turned at the last second. I do however covet the girl's leggings. I've always wanted a pair of Rainbow Bright garb.  Size medium should you find and want to send to me. BTW, it's a good thing her arm is down, else we'd relive the Julia Roberts scandal of 1999.

We went to Oak Creek Brewery (great beer, fries and service) and upon leaving, a horse almost trampled me. I'm not sure why I was so smiley, it was very frightening.

Wild Horse Attack

Horse lawsuit pending, thus I must keep my identity secret.

We drove up to Flagstaff by way of 89A and stopped at a scenic spot overlooking a very nice vista. It was threatening rain and 68 degrees. We loved it. The drive there was a bit steep and windy.

I would be cautious in using the toilets at this rest stop. I've never once been afraid of dropping my rings, pants or my entire self down a toilet, but the kind that don't have a bottom and just empty into a pit freak me out!

We arrived in Flag. Drove around, met up with some friends and just had a really nice day. We wanted to see Lowell Observatory and walk around a bit. And again we received, "Closed on Sunday." If you are interested, this is what you will see if you too go on a Sunday.
Lowell on a Sunday
It's it just so... and the way it's... I can't describe the way it makes me...

On the way back into town, we had a rather amusing sight at the corner. Genie in a Bottle? YMCA? 

Route 66 Directions
Typically, your crazy father tells you to pose in ridiculous and embarrassing manners****
"Look! You're holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa! We'll fool great-aunt Aunt Milly!"
For this reason, I do hope this gentleman is a friend or professional photographer because I would not want my boyfriend thinking this is a good idea. (Actually, I hope he's not a professional photographer either.) But I'm sure it will make for a very cute picture of her on her blog. Holding up Route 66. Adorable really.

All in all, we had a very nice day. Stopped at another Brewery (you MUST try the Pesto Cream Cheese dip at Beaver Street Brewery) and walked around Downtown. I was very excited to see the clock tower used in Back to the Future. I had no idea it is in Flag.

What? That's not the same one from the movie? You checked IMDB and you are 100% sure? There wasn't even a tower in the movie, it was just flush with the building? I think maybe that site is wrong. I'll do some research and get back to you.

*I should point out that I think the site is referring to their offices. The offices are closed Sunday. A church being closed on Sunday is rather strange. 
** I only took three. One of each flavor, Irish Creme being a new one for me.
*** Did you get the battery pun in that sentence?!
**** Ignore the attacking horse picture. I know hypocrisy.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Closed on Sunday

This is a first.

Hubby and I wake rather early this Sunday morning. Not for breakfast. Not for the paper.

We decided to take a daycation with our friends to lovely Sedona. In order to meet them at 8:30am, this meant an early mass for us. We remember there is a 7:00am at our church, so we set the alarms, barely get out of bed and get there with six minutes to spare.

Except there are no cars near the church.

There are two cars in the parking lot.

Hubby gives me a confused look and I give him an, "Oh crap," look.

Me: I don't think there's a 7:00am mass!
Hubby: Yes there is! I mean, there used to be.
Me: There used to be. Did we check?
Hubby: I'll check now.

Below is the image we received from our search that just about made us fall out of the car.
St. Tims: Closed on Sunday.
Um, what?! Apparently our church is closed on Sundays.

Sorry Jesus, we tried.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I think my husband is having an affair

circa October 2011

Ladies, you may have been there. You wake when your husband comes home really late at night from work for from hanging out with the guys. He quietly opens the bedroom door, tip-toes to the closet and puts away his shoes, belt and other personal affects. You, for some reason, pretend that you are still sleeping just like you would pretend when you were a child. (I think you're parent's knew better, they were just playing along). 

For some reason, you do not feel the shift on the bed from him sitting on the side readying himself for a long night's nap. He reopens the bedroom door, then ever-so quietly closes it again. And then, you hear the distinctive 'click' of his phone.

That most terrible of lightning bolts runs down your center. Your head fills with an uncomfortable warmth and your hands begin to tingle. Who would he be calling at this time of night?

You creep to the now-shut door and press your ear to the white-painted wood wishing you had an empty drinking glass to press your ear to. You're not even sure if it would work, but you'd love to try it now!


You figure you are being irrational so you settle yourself back to bed. You close your eyes. You open them fifteen minutes later, yet you are still a single in a double bed. You eventually wander into that realm of awake and sleep. Finally, he returns, sans his portable communication device.

The next night, the exact same scenario presents itself and a frustrating third. But this time, you venture out of the room. You notice that the light under the guest bathroom illuminates three inches of the hall floor. You sneak... you dare not get too close, but you listen and all you hear is the static of silence... and the possible touch of numbers or keypad. You creep back to bed even more confused.

The next morning, you realize you must present your concerns. You want, no, need to know who he is texting that late at night. You try to find a moment in the conversation that will easily segway to an uncomfortable topic. It does not appear.

Finally, you simply confront him days later. You must know what is happening... the secrecy, the late nights, the cool sheets...

"Honey, I need to ask you a question."
"Uh oh, what did I do?"
"No, I just... um... who are you texting at night so late in the bathroom?"
"You heard me."
"No one... I'm not."
"Why aren't you being honest with me? Unless you're doing something else in there that I don't want to know about..."
"Ew, no! No, nothing like that!"
"Well, then what is it?"
"It's nothing, really." -slight laugh-
"What is it?"
"No, it's noth..."
"Please tell me."
"Words with Friends. I'm playing Words with friends, that's all!"
"What's that?"
"It's a game on my phone that I play... the one I told you about."
"Oh. That's all?"
"Can I play?"

There are many complications since that have been caused by this addictive game, but the "I think my husband is having an affair" is the first and most notable.
Hubby is very proud of his ability to obtain obscene amounts of points in this game and he wonders why I didn't add the 108 point picture he sent to me. Sorry, I deleted it from my phone and you can stop sending me pictures, I believe you. But very good, I'm proud.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: Guru Palace

I've been known to say, "I could eat paneer masala everyday and not get sick of it." I don't know if that's actually true since I have not tried. If there is a Guiness World Record in this category, I may consider the task.

When I do want paneer or malasa or anything Indian, I go to Guru Palace. I'm not Indian. I don't have a Chopped judges' palate. All I know is that I love this stuff. It is my crack. It is my pre-nap food because I'm so full and satisfied after the meal, the only reasonable thing to do is sleep. 

Guru, as we affectionately truncate the name, is located in an unassuming plaza, behind the Wells Fargo and north of Trader Joe's. (Don't get me started on TJ's... that's for another post or just visit What's Good at Trader Joe's) It has been open since 2007 and creates the most wonderful North Indian cuisine. Not only is the food amazing, the staff is lovely. The hostess is the sweetest gal and we love chatting with her whenever we visit. Every member of the staff is always helpful and provides excellent customer service.

I would highly consider the buffet because you will get a little taste of everything. The spice/hot factor ranges from dish to dish. I'm happy to say they are kicking it up a notch in some entrees. My hubby, brother and dad love a good food sweat. I'd rather not wear a sweat 'stache, but I happily wear one here.

Naan, garlic or regular, is offered at the meal and they provide about the same amount of options everyday, an extra table is added on Sundays, but the actual options may vary. 

At our last visit, the buffet included:

Buffet Drinks: Chai tea and frozen mango smoothie (I'm sorry, I don't have the proper name) 
Both drinks are always available. I absolutely love the chai. It is neither spicy now sweet -add sugar if you desire- and it is the perfect after meal drink.

Cold bar: Fruit Salad (seasonal- strawberries, pineapple and honeydew), Lettuce salad, cucumbers, lemons, Mint Sauce, Tamarind Sauce, Achar, Raita.
I tend to nibble on these options toward the end of the meal to cool down.

Hot Bar: Tandoori Chicken, Goat Masala, Aloo Bengan, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Curry, Palak Paneer, Zeera Rice, Zucchini, Daal, Vegetable Pakora, Chana Masala and Samber. 
Did you know Tikka Masala was created in England? Apparently the traditional meals were too spicy for the Brits, so they calmed the heat with cream. Ta-da. I do have to say I'm quite happy they did. Everything is delicious, but my favorites are the Aloo, Tikka Masala, Paneer, Chana Masala and just about any vegetable they add to the buffet. 

Dessert: Gajrela (they used to serve this warm, which was very good, but it is now served cold), Gulab-Jamun and Kheer.
I usually can't decide on just one, so I take a little of at least two of the deserts.

You can find coupons once in a while in the New Times or in the paper, but do be aware they stopped taking them for the buffet.  They are kid-friendly and they can accommodate large parties. And if you are so inclined, you can watch Indian television at the bar and try to understand cricket. (I'd rather a good Bollywood movie any day, but I'll take what I can get from a foreign network)

Next time you go, I'd be happy to tag along.

2048 E. Baseline Road  
Mesa, Arizona, 85204   
Tel : 480-558-9300

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