Friday, September 18, 2009

Fourth Avenue Update

Last Saturday Steve and I had a Guatemalan dinner at Maya Queztal on Fourth Avenue. Then we walked south to check out Papa Moai at The Hut. Elsewhere in this blog (October 28, 2007), I have a photo of Papa Moai, a giant Easter Island head, when he was at Magic Carpet Golf. Sadly, Magic Carpet is another pathetic case of pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

Papa Moai (as Tucson's famous cartoonist Max Cannon calls him in his strip) has found a glorious new home at The Hut, where we have enjoyed many a concert by incredible local bands. The Hut really spiffed up their front patio to make a suitable new home for this magnificent work of folk art. Gone is the nasty asphalt parking lot with the painted parking spaces. After walking through a door in Papa Moai's chest and admiring the tee shirts for sale there, you are transported to a funky beach town. Key West and Tamarindo are some of the suggestions on the M*A*S*H-style directional post. The ground is covered with sand. Palm trees wave in the breeze.

Our bud Bob Lanning of Lanning Architecture reports that he designed the new base for Papa Moai. He says,"The 43,000 pound head was moved in one piece. We all (owners, engineers, builders, architects) analyzed the head as it stood over at Magic Carpet Golf and decided, for a number of reasons, that the best approach would be to move the head, without the shoulders, over to The Hut and then install it on a new structurally sound base (the base is essentially the part from the neck down). So the construction crews severed the head at the neck (which took 3 days; it was a process), used two cranes to lay it down in one piece on a cradle on a flat bed trailer, and hauled it across town to The Hut (that was a site, to see the Head rolling down Speedway!). Then much later another crane hoisted it up and placed it on its new base. Then all of the finish work, like the new plaster, paint, etc. was completed. I think they still have a few ideas that haven't been completed yet, like they want to install a smoke machine so smoke, at times, comes out of his nose!"

Then we continued south to check out the long-awaited Fourth Avenue underpass. I don't care what its detractors say, I like it. The walls are panelled with tile that look like rusted metal. Gone are the old Doric columns of the original underpass, replaced with larger, round columns with three incised rings. It's wider, brighter, and cooler than before. We regret we didn't know about the opportunity to have our faces immortalized on one of the tiles at the entrance. Besides interesting-looking Tucsonans, many pets and a chicken made the cut. We look forward to the first All Soul's Procession in the new tunnel this November.

The experience was enhanced by some wonderful buskers playing on the sidewalk in the middle of the underpass. A violin and a steel guitar filled the cavernous space with exciting gypsy music. The sign in the musicians' guitar case said they were going to Seattle early the next morning. I hope some other musicians fill the space with delight this weekend.

Emerging from the underpass, we checked out some of the galleries on Congress. Who could ask for more than to enjoy the auditory, visual and gustatory pleasures of downtown Tucson on a clear summer night?


The Greek Festival starts Thursday, September 24 and goes through Sunday. Lots of fabulous food, music and dancing can be found at the St Demetrios Hellenic Center at 1145 E Ft Lowell, just west of Mountain.

When I lived a few blocks from here, I was always delighted to hear the joyous carnival atmosphere that filled the air.

Admission is $3 per person, and free for children under 12. If you visit between 5 PM and closing Thursday or noon to 6:30 on Sunday, you can go free, courtesy of Bill Anastopoulos of Bancapital Home Loans. You can meet Bill at the food booth.

I can't attach the free tickets to this email, but I can send them to you as a PDF, so send me an email and I will send you the tix.

The Snake Chronicles, Part IV

Well, it happened again last Sunday night. Steve came in my office, and quietly said, "Hon, we have a snake in the house." This is our fourth episode of Snake in the House at our current house. At our Broadmoor house, we had a little Blind Snake that was more like a speedy white worm that our cat Shadow probably brought in for everyone's amusement.

Inside our current house, this is our second King Snake. We also have had a Bull Snake. Plus a little one that Steve couldn't identify before it disappeared forever into the kitchen cabinets. The two that we were able to deport from this house went willingly, as we barricaded a path to the outdoors and stamped our feet until they overcame their fear enough to slither away to freedom.

This snake was the first to require elaborate snake removal apparatus. After Steve nearly stepped on it in the dark dining room, it went into his office, and thankfully for everyone concerned, it turned left behind his door instead of right along the impenetrable walls of bookcases and stuff. We threw a blanket over him while we pondered our strategy. He stayed put.

Using a technique we have perfected from years of gecko deportations, we put a plastic storage box over him. Then we slipped a piece of cardboard under the box and flipped the box over and put a lid on it.

Until our orange cat named Sunbeam appeared in our yard, we were glad to share the outside of the house with snakes, although a coach whip did chase Steve once, and that was sort of scary. But last summer we were horrified to see an enormous bull snake disappear into the grass, and watched Sunbeam stalk it. Fortunately, she mistook a hose for the snake, and pounced on the hose instead, but we realize that this cat just doesn't seem to have good sense.

So we had to release our most recent home invader away from the house. We drove to a secure, undisclosed location, and let him go. We hope he does okay there. We know he may not.

Kiddie Condos

Parents who want to buy a house for their children who live in a different town from the parents can do so using an FHA loan that is nicknamed "Kiddie Condo". This program is the only way the parents can get the lower down payment and lower interest rate of an owner-occupied loan. Otherwise, they have to buy the house as a second home or worse yet, as an investment, which is much more expensive. In recent years, people have also started using this same program to buy a house for their parents.

Catherine Elliwood at American Home Mortgage just sent me this information: FHA rules allowing borrowers to use owner-occupied financing for their children and aging parents is changing. The occupying co-borrower-- the child or aging parent--MUST have traditional credit, typically defined as at least three trade lines for a period of 24 months. So if you plan to purchase property for your child in college, you need to start with credit early. Get gas cards, secured credit cards or store cards in the child's name. Be sure they keep their balances low and repay on time. Remember, adding a child to an existing account as an authorized user will not contribute to his credit profile anymore.

If you need more information about the FHA Kiddie Condo program, please call Catherine Ellinwood at 954-1907.