Monday, November 12, 2012

Are Those Snow Clouds I See?

It felt cold enough to snow this weekend, which is to say it dipped below 40F here.  It did snow in the mountains, but not where I live.    Still, it was very chilly, especially for this time of year.    

       I love clouds.   The blue hole peeking through all the dark grey reminded me of our flying days.    If you could find a large hole (much larger than this one), it was fun to fly up through it and get on top of the cloud base.   Of course you had to be careful that there were lots of big holes so that they didn't close over and strand you on top! 

       On Saturday we went to Cave Creek to shop and explore.   It's a little higher elevation than here, and it was very chilly.   When it came time to eat lunch, I wanted to go to El Canto.    
      El Canto is my favorite Cave Creek Restaurant.   From the outside it's very plain, but inside it's wonderful.   You walk into a large garden that is hidden from the street by high walls.    In the center is a huge pond with ducks, geese, and turtles.   Tables line one side of the pond so you can eat outside while you watch all the wildlife.   Inside the building there are huge windows on one wall where a few lucky people can see the pond.
      Even though it was chilly, I wanted to eat outside next to the water.  I was certain it would warm up as the sun moved higher in the sky.   Plus there was a roof heater suspended near our table.    
       The ducks and geese put on a great show.   Even more fun were the little sparrows that came to our table looking for a handout.   They weren't disappointed.   We had a huge basket of tortilla chips that we were willing to secretly share with them.   One of the cutest of the little birds ate out of my hand!    
       Unfortunately the temperature kept dropping instead of climbing.  Not only did the sun not beam down on us, a cold breeze began to sweep through the courtyard.  The longer we sat, the colder we got.   We never complained, but apparently some other people did.   The staff began rolling out large space heaters and setting them around the porch.   One lucky table got a design that was new to me.   It actually had flames coming out of it like a mini-fire pit in a cylinder.   Very interesting as well as practical.       
       Of course I didn't have my camera so I didn't get any pictures of the ducks and birds or of the unusual space heater.   But if you check out the link to El Canto you can see pictures of the pond and a few of its inhabitants.  I can't wait to go back.   But I plan to bring a heavier jacket next time! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wulfenite, A Souvenir of the Red Cloud Mine Case


        One of the cases that I left to my co-workers to finish when I retired from life as a public defender involved the Red Cloud Mine, located in La Paz County, Arizona.   I had intended to visit the mine since it was the scene of the crime, but it's in a very remote location.   Not only would it have taken all day to get there and back, I probably would have needed a 4-wheel drive vehicle.   I ran out of time before I retired and never made the trip.   Since I had never heard of the mine or the Wulfenite that is found there before the case,  I figured I would never hear about it again.
        But yesterday, while we were at the Phoenix Gem and Mineral Show, I spotted two rocks from the Red Cloud Mine.   I bought one of them, which is in the picture along with the label that came with it.   Prior to this case I had never heard of Wulfenite.   But I liked the name, although it should have been spelled wOlfenite since I really like wolves.   However, it was named for the Austrian mineralogist, Franz Xavier von Wulfen, who discovered it in 1845.
     According to an article by The Georgia Mineral Society, the Red Cloud mine produced silver and lead ore from the 1870s to 1890s.  Wulfenite crystals were a byproduct of the silver mining operation. The mine, which had been opened and closed many times since then as a specimen mine, closed during 2003.   It was bought a few years ago by a dentist from Kansas and is currently not open.
     Jan C. Rasmussen of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum wrote and made available a PDF article titled "Wulfenite in Arizona".   It has beautiful pictures, diagrams, and a bibliography for anyone who wants more information.    
       Many of the large, high quality specimens of Wulfenite are selling for high prices.    My little rock was well under ten dollars.  For me, that was a great price for a souvenir of Arizona mining and one of my last criminal law cases.    


Thursday, November 1, 2012


       Today was the first day of my retirement.  It was both happy and sad.   Happy because I've been looking forward to this for quite a while, but sad because I will miss my friends in La Paz.   However, we are already making plans to see Willie Nelson when he comes to Parker next March, plus another Girls' Night Out in Lake Havasu City is in the works. 
       I started the day with an early morning walk.     A Harris Hawk was on the ground in one yard.  It was enjoying something freshly caught.   Unfortunately I didn't have my camera.  (Isn't that always the way of it?)   This was the first time I've seen one with a kill, too.       
      When I returned home, I realized that on a "normal" Thursday I would still be driving to work.   I'm really glad to be finished with that commute. 
     I quickly wrote up a to-do list and started in on it.   However, it is now after 5 o'clock, and  I have yet to finish it.   In fact, I'm only about half way through it.  So much for becoming super-efficient now that I'm home.
      So how did I spend my first day?  
      I did some paperwork.  Seems there's always paperwork to do.   
      I received some positive feedback about an article I submitted to a publisher not long ago.   A very good thing to have happen on my first day home.    Made plans for follow-up work on that.
       Around noon Kent and I went to Vogue Bistro for lunch to celebrate.   We've been wanting to go there for quite a while but had never made it.   They were recently featured on "Check Please", an Arizona public television show that features local restaurants.    We had their French Onion Soup, which was delicious.  They top theirs with a flaky pastry and fill it with lots of cheese and onions.    I would definitely order it again.    I also had their specialty salad, which was also excellent.    Sipped a nice Merlot with it, too.    (Something I couldn't do during working days.)  
         Took a little afternoon nap.  (Something I couldn't admit to doing during working days.)
          Visited with our neighbors who just arrived from Wisconsin.   They're snow birds who are here for the winter.
          Thought about going back to the paperwork stack but then I realized I need to pack up my beading supplies.   Tomorrow is Beading day at SCG.     I have to get organized for that.
           Now it's nearly 6 o'clock.   I should stay and work on that list some more, but the back porch is calling me.  
           Besides, I'm retired now.   There's always tomorrow.....