Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Arizona Weekend

Hey!  Hope everyone is doing well as we work our way toward mid summer!

Amy and I spent this weekend in Arizona!  We flew out early Thursday morning, and were in the Phoenix area through Sunday evening.
We had a really nice trip.
(meeting Nathan for the first
We arrived at Amy's parents' house Thursday morning, and were greeted by her sister and Amy's newest nephew, Nathan.  Nathan's an incredibly happy baby who smiles a lot and makes happy noises.  He's really fun to be around.  I met him for the first time on this trip!
Jean, Amy's mom, made a really nice brunch (with breakfast potatoes and an egg dish and coffee cake), and Amy's grandparents, Jerry and Carol, came by and ate some breakfast with us.  It was really nice.

Thursday afternoon I think we just sort of hung out and did some catching up.  I tried to do some reading, but ended up sleeping for a while (we had gotten up pretty early for our flight). 
Thursday night the family got together again for dinner.  Matt, Amy's brother-in-law, joined us with Amy's other nephew, Scott.  Greg grilled some chicken, and Jean made coleslaw, potato salad, broccoli salad, and crab cakes.  It was another really great meal.
Amy's parents and grandparents had just gotten back from a Scandinavian/Russian cruise, and Greg put some of the pictures onto a photo disk.  We watched them on the television before and after dinner.  The pictures were really impressive.  It sounded like they liked Sweden the best, but the pictures of the palaces in St. Petersburg were also pretty fascinating (although they said that the city itself actually had a bit more of a rundown feel to it).
On Friday Amy and I went downtown Phoenix.  We visited the Heard Museum, which features a large, interesting collection of Native American art.  Having lived most of my life in Texas, Native American culture isn't a major part of our social fabric.  In Texas, the white settlers seem to have had a fairly contentious, uneasy existence with Native American tribes, and possibly because Texas had just been annexed after being its own country, the federal government didn't really take great pains to establish reservations in Texas.  We still have Native American people living in Texas, no doubt, but we don't really have any large reservations in Texas as far as I know.
By contrast, in Arizona tribal reservations make up a quarter of the total land in the state.  There are a lot of Native Americans living in Arizona.  They've had a large influence upon the state and its history.

(the soul eating kachinas)
(Andy Warhol once defaced this sarape
 with a magic marker.  I kid you not)
Annnyway, The Heard Museum was pretty cool.  They had some cool collections of pottery, rugs, clothing, and kachinas! (which were my favorite.  Probably everyone already knows this, but kachinas are little doll type things that represent different spirits)  The Heard was a really interesting museum. 
On our way to and from The Heard, Amy's mom drove us through some older neighborhoods near downtown Phoenix.  I really enjoyed that, as well.  I always find it interesting to sort of get a sense of how cities were established over time and to see the different approaches to homemaking that were employed by residents of different eras  (e.g., the older historical homes in Phoenix were mostly wood and shingle homes that were still utilizing things like front porches, while the newer homes have a sort of adobe-like look and tiled roofs).  I've been promised another trip downtown when we go back, so maybe I can do a little reading to get a sense of how the town was founded and how it has expanded over time.  Given the desert environment and the fact that people were obviously settling the area long before the advent of air conditioning, I'm just curious about what made them set up shop and decide to fight it out with the heat.  For earlier generations, you'd think it might have been the sort of terrain that they would have felt lucky to have safely managed to travel across.  Instead, some of them plunked themselves down and decided, "This is the place!"  They didn't flee when the first really hot summer came rolling around.  Plucky folks, no doubt.  I'm curious about how life out there in the Valley of the Sun evolved over time.

Anyway, on Friday we went to the museum.  We stopped off at a good ice cream place called Sweet Republic.  Amy found it after reading an article of some sort, and the ice cream turned out to be fantastic.  Unusual flavors (sweet corn!) that were all well executed.

(desert mermaid!)
In the late afternoon on Friday Amy and I went to the swimming pool near her parents house.  It was calm and cool and quiet and really, really nice.  It's a very pleasant place to swim, and it's wrought iron back fence provides a view of the mountains.  It's extremely hot in Phoenix, but it's so dry there that, despite the heat, you actually feel cold when you get out of the pool as the water rapidly evaporates off your skin.  After 10 or 15 minutes you're dry and warming up again.  Ten or fifteen minutes after that you're starting to feel sort of hot and it's time for another dip in the pool.  The pool that we were at had some sort of cooling system, and the water was very pleasant.

On Saturday Amy and Jean went to a day spa to go get massages, and afterwards they went to visit the nephews.  Meanwhile, Greg and I went to the music store to look at instruments.
Like most musicians, I like to look at musical equipment. 
Even when I have no intention of buying anything, I like to look.
When my 40th birthday arrived this past March, I decided that I was going to get myself a nice guitar.  I started with trombone in 6th grade, have been playing bass since I was in high school, and learned guitar sometime around my first year of college. Celebrating my 40th with a new guitar seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  Amy and her parents both thought it was a good idea as well, and Amy, Jean, and Greg contributed money toward the purchase of a new instrument (which I'm extremely grateful for!).
Greg knows that I've been looking for a new guitar since my birthday.  He also has taken up both ukulele and guitar in the past couple of years.  He plays in a ukulele group at a nice, big guitar store in Phoenix called Sam Ash.  Greg purchased a Martin guitar a while back, and I mentioned to him that I've always wanted one.  Ever since I was in college I've been really in love with Martin guitars and their sound.
Well, during his trips to the music store for his ukulele group Greg spotted a Martin D-35 that's been in the shop for a while.  He knew I had been planning on buying a nice guitar sometime in the near future, so he wanted to show me this one.  Given the quality of the instrument and the price, everything just sort of fell into place.
(my new guitar looks like this)
The D-35 is a Martin dreadnought, meaning it's a large guitar with a deep, rich sound.  It has a solid spruce top, ebony fretboard, and rosewood sides.  We went down to the store just for me to look at the D-35 and play it, but I ended up walking out the door with it.  I got a great deal on it, and when I asked why they had it on clearance, it was for no other reason than because it was a 2011 model, and they were trying to make room for more inventory (which seems like a sort of weird reason to mark down a guitar that should, theoretically, last for a number of decades).  I hadn't gone to Phoenix planning to buy a guitar, but I
I haven't had it for long, but I love the sound and the way that it plays.  I'm very excited about it!  It's kind of loud, though.  I hope Amy comes to love it the way I do... ;-)

Saturday afternoon I went back to the pool with Amy and Jean, and Saturday night Amy and I went out to dinner with Heidi and Matt while Amy's parents and grandparents babysat the kids.  It was fun!  We went to El Encanto and ate Mexican food (do we have pollo fundido in Texas?  I only seem to be able to get it in Arizona) and drank margaritas and told stories.  It was a very nice night, and we had a really good time hanging out with Heidi and Matt.

Sunday morning the whole family reconvened.  We got a last chance to hang out with everyone and play with the kids.  It was a pleasant morning and a good end to a nice trip.

Thanks to the Davis, Koffel, and Sinex families for having me!  I had a good time hanging out with y'all!  Look forward to seeing you when you come to Texas!!


Jean said...

We loved seeing both of you and can't wait for October! Are we crossing paths on Sunday or will you be long gone by the time I land?

J.S. said...

It's gonna be close. We're trying to get up there and check in before it gets too late, and it's a 4 hour drive to Dallas. We may pass like ships in the night!
Thanks again for the hospitality in Arizona!