FROM SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
SCOTTSDALE, Nov 21, 2005 - Things are far from settled around here. Except for the two bedrooms and my office, my new home at Grayhawk is still devoid of any personality. But that's okay. I wanted to start with a blank canvass. For, it is the first home since 1971 that I actually chose for myself by myself and will decorate it the way I like it (with my interior designer's input, of course). With all my other homes, I tried to please other people whom I let have their way in decorating the places.
Since I have the most important things I need to live, work and play, I am in no hurry to fill the space with furniture. What I get will have to be perfect (for me), or else I just won't buy it. When it is all said and done (as much as making a house a home ever is), I will do another photo essay so you can compare it "then and now."
The weekend before last, my elder daughter Tanja flew in to New York from Moscow. We met at JFK, and then flew together from New York to Phoenix, so she could spend the long weekend here. When she heard me remark that this was the first home since 1971 that will really be able to call my own, she reminded me that I had designed The Bolt Hole in Australia. True enough. But I never furnished it, nor chose the interior colors or appliances. I left it to my then wife and younger daughter to do that.
This is Tanja's bedroom that I furnished just before we arrived from New York. The bed is brand new, except for the mahogany headboard. Since the room faces the south through the shrubs and trees, it is quite dark in the morning, and thus great for sleeping in. But in the afternoon, when this photo was taken, it "comes alive" with bright lights and colors.
This photo was taken at the Ocean Club, a fancy seafood restaurant at Kierland Commons, a fashionable outdoor mall not far from my new place at Grayhawk. The following night, Tanja and I had dinner with Karen at our favorite restaurant in "downtown" Scottsdale, the Houston's, where Karen and I used to hang out almost every Friday night.
Speaking of Kierland, even in the middle of a desert, things have very much gotten into the Christmas spirit already. This is what Kierland looks at night, with thousands lights decorating the trees and walkways.
And here it is again, in mid-December, from a different angle...
The Market at DC Ranch is also looking festive, as you can see from the above photo...
... and so is even the local Safeway store, whose understated design blends in architecturally with the rest of the setting. In fact, it is so understated that for the first week after having moved here, I didn't even know it was there.
Also, this what another local shopping center looked like late at night this Sunday (Nov 27).
On Sunday (Nov 20), I went to a Phoenix Symphony matinee concert at the Pinnacle Peak Presbyterian Church, which is not far from my Grayhawk home. It is a lovely modern structure with a magnificent organ as its centerpiece. It provided a great setting for a concert that featured Tschaikovski, Mozart, Bach, Barber and Bernstein.
The first four pieces were great. I left after about five minutes of Bernstein. Too much of would-be Gerschwin and wish-I-could-do-jazz in it, and not enough originality for my musical taste. In fact, the Bernstein music, written in 1943, reminded me of Shostakovich's pieces that sound to me like the clanging of machines in a factory. No wonder Stalin and other communist leaders reportedly loved his music. It seemed to celebrate the meaningless lives of factory workers. I could not figure out, though, why Bernstein would want to go there. Was he also a commie in disguise? (many artists were back then...).
(Right after I had written the above, I decided to do a little research along this hypothesis. And here's what I found:
Anyway, that's, I am sure, more than both you and I needed to know about a musical piece that I did not like.
In exploring my new neighborhood, I have discovered that most roads had bike paths. "That's just like Europe," I thought, recalling the bike paths in Holland or Germany, for example. Except better. The weather here is still in the 80s, even though it's late November. As for the weather in Holland, and Germany...
So on Sunday, I bought a new bike (the above photo was taken in my garage). And today, I put it through its paces, its first road test. I rode it to the Club and back. It was a seven-mile, slightly hilly, easy 50-minute ride. The bike passed the test with flying colors. The rider's muscles will report tomorrow as to whether or not he passed it, too. :-) Especially as he went back to the Club this evening for a fairly rigorous yoga class. (I have not done "serious" yoga in over two years now, not to mention having had both shoulder and knee surgeries six months, and six weeks ago, respectively). So tomorrow will have to be an easy sports day, except perhaps for some lap swimming to loosen up today's kinks.
And yes, just in case you're getting the impression that all I do is play (which is the impression I like to give), here's a picture of my new office. Make it less than half of my new office. The parts you cannot see (my computer desk, the files and a bookcase) are actually where I am spending most of my time... But I like to show off my favorite mahogany antique desk, which is probably more than 150 years old. Having bought it in a Toronto antique store, I have had for over 35 years now. So that's where I do my 19th century-type of work (writing by hand and opening mail).
By the way, the painting on the wall was a gift to me by a young artist who painted it back in 1978, when left IBM to form Annex (the white pyramid) as my own business. There is a deeper message within the artwork, but I won't bore you with it unless you're really interested.
And that's all she wrote... "in the beginning" at Grayhawk. Happy Thanksgiving! (to my American friends).
SCOTTSDALE, Nov 28, 2005 - Grayhawk seems to a wild neighborhood, I am discovering. And not just because of its name. Take a look at an information notice I've just noticed (pun intended) at the Grayhawk HOA web site:
Pretty wild, huh? It reminds me a bit of my old Tucson neighborhood that was teeming in wildlife.
After having come home from a short walk, I just realized that I had natural Christmas colors all around the front of my house - the beautiful red bougainvillea lit up here by the setting sun and the natural green bushes.
And that's my life, so far...