From Japan to Lebanon to the Hummingbird’s Nest All in One Day

Recently the gardener discovered the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix: RO HO EN. We visited the other day for the first time. I was so taken with the size of the pond, and this spot of beauty nestled under the tall condo buildings near the Central Arts District (theatres, museums, opera, and arts schools). If you haven’t been to that area, it’s a must see–so active and vital.


The garden resembles a lovely park more than it does a Japanese garden of the sort I am used to (Portland, the Huntington, etc.). They offer tea ceremonies to the public on the third Saturday of every month. The fee is $30 ($25 seniors). Imagine living in one of those condos with a view of the garden all year round.



The pine cones were fun because they aren’t a common sight in Phoenix.


The park did not have flowers or too many bells and whistles, so the gardener was not impressed with that aspect. For me, the park-like environment was fabulous. But it did come with a $7 price tag ($6 for seniors, $5 for students, and free for little kids).


The pond is loaded with giant carp, and when you check in they ask if you want to buy a little bag of food for the fish. The way they all gather to eat a few crumbs was a little terrifying for me. I thought it might be stressful for the fish. The upside for them is that the pond is so big that their environment is better than that of many pond-living carp.


This big guy in the middle was truly enormous.

Ducks live at the pond, too, and the mothers all were watching over their ducklings. One duckling imprinted on us and tried to follow us until we discouraged her. This is a short video of a baby duck, just in case you want to see cute right now.

After the garden, we went to one of our favorites, Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli. The owner Isam is so nice, the gluten-free options are diverse (pita, tabouli, and more), and the Lebanese lemonade to die for.


This time a tray of turnovers sat on the counter. They looked intriguing. Isam told me that he makes them for Ramadan every year. He is Christian, and though he makes them on behalf of his Muslim customers, he admits to loving them ;). He explained that on Ramadan, because of the fasting, people need the quick energy this sweet treat provides. He said he starts with a pancake and fills it with a cheese or walnut filling, turns it over, and deep fries it. It’s then covered with a rosewater syrup. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE rose flavored food and drink. I keepย two bottles of rosewater in my fridge! I brought home two kataif–a cheese and a walnut. The gardener told me I was consuming 1,000 calories each. Hahaha, I just grinned as he was saying it because these are obviously not a gluten-free treat!


Click on the link to find out more: Atayef (Kataif)

Now for an update on the hummingbird mom and her babies.

They are growing up so fast. The gardener watched one fly away already. I wonder if their mother is the child or grandchild of one of the hummers who hatched in our backyard a few years ago.

Since I restructured my memoir, making it more of a hybrid genre in structure and style, I have debated adding a few poems to the book. This week I revised a couple of poems I am contemplating for the book.

Happy week, everyone!



Filed under #amwriting, #AmWriting, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, gluten free, gluten free restaurant, gluten free travel, Inspiration, Nonfiction, Writing

75 responses to “From Japan to Lebanon to the Hummingbird’s Nest All in One Day

  1. Lovely photos, Luanne! It would be wonderful to have that garden as a perpetual view from a window. When we lived in SF, we spent a lot of time at the Arboretum where there is a pond with a lot of carp, ducks, and geese. We never fed the carp, but we did rescue one that was trapped in a plastic bag. The kataif sounds wonderful (made me hungry just reading about it ;)). And good luck with the hummingbirds! They are on the wane here, but one stopped by the other day.

    • Thank you for your heroic efforts for the carp! Plastic is really a problem. Did you hear about the whale that died from eating plastic bags? So glad a hummer stopped by ๐Ÿ™‚!

      • We thought the carp was just feeding along the edge of the pond. We were pretty shocked when we saw he was trapped. It was fortunate that he was so close the edge, although both of us were in danger of falling in … which would have been embarrassing at worst ๐Ÿ˜ Yeah, I heard about the whale. Breaks my heart.

  2. And I meant to mention: I think it’s a great idea to incorporate some poetry into your memoir ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. The most fascinating item of a fascinating post is the speed of that duckling ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Lovely post — park pictures, duck movie, treats, and link to extensive kataif cooking instructions! My favorite Middle Eastern treat is ma’amoul, but I’m open to many treat experiences. Yours sounded divine!

  5. A lovely, tranquil trip to the garden with you Luanne, and those walnut filled turnovers sound very tasty ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Thank you for linking to my blog ๐Ÿ™‚
    I love rosewater flavored anything too ๐Ÿ™‚ It elevates the taste and the smell is out of this world

  7. That park looks like a lovely way to spend the day. As for the 1,000 calorie turnovers, I wonโ€™t tell if you donโ€™t. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. When I lived in Wilmington, DE, Longwood Gardens was a short drive. I got a membership and spent a lot of time there. It was better than therapy, Valium, booze and a lot of other things too. They also have cats that are kept to keep the rodent population down. Win-win all the way around! I can imagine living in those condos facing the garden and just loving it.

  9. I love the Friendship Garden and have visited many times. Glad you had a chance to go!

  10. This post was a real eye opener for me. It made me realize that just having a pond is a precious sight in Arizona. No gardens needed (and probably hugely expensive to maintain in that climate).
    Your hummingbirds are lovely! Great photo.

    • Interesting. Yes, I think you are right that a big pond is a huge draw in the desert. And that gardens are difficult, although the Desert Botanical Gardens has that covered by landscaping with all desert-type plants.

  11. It looks like you have some wonderful days–park, yummy rose-flavored treats, and hummingbirds, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. That would be a fantastic view to enjoy each day. Aw…the little hummies! I’m so happy to see these little fellas.

  13. Marvellous garden ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜„
    Nothing like that here in this city, Phoenix must be a great place!
    Hummies are adorable ๐Ÿ’•

    • Sid, what city do you live in, if you don’t mind me asking?
      They are so adorable. I feel bad for people who don’t have hummingbirds near them. They seem to be part real bird and part fantasy bird! xo

      • Hi Luanne ๐Ÿ˜€
        I live in Milan, Italy! This city in the northern part of the country is too cold and too uncomfortable for birds, we have only pigeons, flocks of pigeons all around the Dom ๐Ÿ˜‚
        Have a wonderful day ๐Ÿ’•

        • I have been to Milan for a very brief time. I was very impressed because I had purchased two small prints and left them in a very busy restroom. By the time I remembered at least a half hour had elapsed. When I went back they were still there! Nobody had taken them. You have a wonderful day, too!

  14. You have had a busy week! I wonder what Perry would have thought had that duckling followed you home. Just as well mama duck was there to round it up! The park looks lovely, though it ought to be free in my view. We have a Chinese Garden here, built by Chinese experts who came for the specific project and then returned home again. In a town filled with parks and gardens of all shapes and sizes and a world renown Botanic Garden, it has an entry fee and as a result mostly languishes all alone in its walled splendour. Such a shame! Ewww, that was a wee rant ๐Ÿ™‚ As I appear to be into giving my opinions unrequested this morning, shall I continue? (An entirely rhetorical question you understand) As a poet your memoir could indeed surely include some poetry – After all you do it so well! I’ll go and have my coffee now and hopefully become less opinionated! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hah, I wonder what the duckling would have made of Perry!!! I agree that the garden should be free. The city maintains it so why isn’t it covered by city taxes? I feel bad for your Chinese Garden. Is it expensive or is it that it has competition from free parks?
      And thank you for letting me know about the poetry in the memoir!!!

  15. And I forgot to say I LOVE Lebanese food – might be my favourite!!

  16. Baby hummers!!!! I love how they are overflowing the nest. Thanks for the pictures. Oh, and yes to poems in your memoir. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks re the poems, Jennifer! I am having fun with this new structure, so even if it doesn’t work at least the process is fun for me. The hummers are off and taking care of themselves now. Their babyhood went by so quickly!

      • Fun is *so* helpful when it comes to writing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Will the mama hummer raise another brood this season?

        • I don’t know. We left the nest where it is because the other one did come back. The problem is that nest was a little late in the season, so I suspect it is too hot now. And if she did, we would be worried sick about the little guys out in the heat.

  17. Those Ramadan-special treats do sound delicious!
    I still can’t get over how small the hummingbird eggs are!
    Your spring’s/summer’s off to a great start!

  18. Oh, Luanne, what a fabulous spot!
    The big carp was something else!!

  19. Oh my goodness. I’d be at one of those “fried pies” like the carp going at the fish food. And wind up big as that carp, too.

  20. That Lebanese dessert sounds amazing! I also didn’t know about the garden in Phoenix. Great tips for a visit!

  21. Lovely post, Luanne. Your video of the duckling was adorable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Luanne, first, I love hearing that you’ve restructured your memoir into a hybrid structure – very cool, I’d love to hear more about how that goes. Second, a Japanese garden in the middle of Phoenix? Wow! That stretches my imagination, just thinking about melding the desert with the water-and-trees habitat of a Japanese garden. What an amazing description. Third, I liked your update on the hummingbirds, and it reminded me that the other day I looked up (randomly) above our sidewalk and saw something slight attached to the overhead wire (goes to the streetlight at the end of our street), something slight and green. Closer inspection revealed it was a … hummingbird! Sitting on the wire, turning head this way and that. I waited a while, wondering if it would take off (this was near dusk), but it just sat there. Until I finally kept walking to leave it alone.

    Thanks, Luanne!

    • Aw, what a sweet bird. They seem as if they are on the same wavelength as us, don’t they? I think they are quite smart. And a lovely green hummer! Ours are generally not colorful birds like that.

  23. Your note about hybrid structure reminded me that I’m taking a week-long course in hybrid this summer at the Port Townsend Writers Conference (next month). I am just a novice with hybrid, but this particular instructor-writer is a kind, intelligent, and knowledgable teacher I’ve had before (Bill Ransom), as well as one of the founders of the Port Townsend Writers Conference. And THAT made me think, I wonder if you’d ever consider meeting up at a writers conference, perhaps even the PT conference, one of these years? Would be awesome. I’d be glad to come to Phoenix, as you’ve mentioned one or two conferences you’ve been to there that had amazing speakers. Let me know! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Here’s the webpage on the course I’m taking (Bill Ransom is the instructor):

    • Wow, I’d never heard of Bill Ransom. I love the concept he’s talking about in the course description. I guess that is the way I wrote. I love all the literary genres, although am less interested in fiction than perhaps any other. And I love the idea of combining them, but truly the memoir is the first place I am trying it out. I have pretty much decided that I won’t travel to any more conferences. With conferences in Phoenix, I don’t like the idea of combining both for me. There are two conferences coming up in Phoenix that I know about. One is NonfictioNow I’ve never been to this before, but plan to go to it this time. Then ASU has their Desert whatever its called (It’s such a complicated name), I think in February 2019. I probably will go to that, but am not positive yet.

  24. What a fun day! The items sound delicious! I must say, you fit a lot into a week!

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