Monday, October 17, 2016

Enchanted Pumpkin Garden Carefree ~ Creative Genius Of Ray Villafane

What could be better than spending the day with the Talented Ray Villafane at the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden in Carefree and watching him put the finishing touches on the Fabulous Displays he's Creating there?

He's a Creative Genius at Sculpting and Carving as well as the nicest of Guys.  The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden will have a wealth of activities from October 17th through the 31st and the Magical Hours will be from 10 am to 10 pm.  I wanted to take the Family early so we could watch the final Transformation of this Enchantment taking place.

It wasn't complete yet but as avid Artists ourselves we Enjoy the Process as much as the Outcome as the Creations spring to Life with Enchanting whimsical carved characters frolicking about in their little Carefree Village.

The Young Prince is an adept Sculptor so he was all up in the details of Transforming Pumpkins into Works of Incredible Art.  Also he was fascinated in the preservation process of keeping them from premature deterioration and rot so that Displays last longer.  

For the Carved Pumpkins that were already complete this one was our Family's unanimous Favorite.   We just Loved the expressiveness of the Character and the intricate details that brought it to Life.

Since this was carved from an Heirloom Pumpkin we were particularly interested since we haven't personally had good luck in carving Heirloom varieties.  But they tend to be our Favorite types of Pumpkin due to their color variations, shapes and skin textures, especially those with warts.

Knowing that they can be carved with such Success is Inspiring and Ray was very Inspirational in telling The Young Prince to just keep Practicing and refining his Art.   Ray is so humble and such a good Teacher, he will be doing YMCA Carving Nights and giving Instruction in the Art of Pumpkin Carving.

This year's Installments added new life-sized Scarecrows for the first time.  The Fabric Art utilizing Burlap and other interesting Materials was exceptional and the expressions on the Characters was so Lifelike.

The Whimsical uncarved Pumpkin Characters in the Carefree Pumpkin Village are so Sweet and in humorous poses.   And of coarse the backdrop of the Carefree Gardens is Glorious this time of year and there are so many Delightful Shops and Restaurants nearby to spend the day at as well.

Today though for our Family was all about the Artist and his body of Work, which we Admire so much that we wanted to behold it from it's inception and will go again once it's completed.

Princess T and I were in Awe of the Horse and Scarecrow Rider Sculpture... for the pieces that weren't Pumpkin Carvings this was hands down our Favorite piece!!!  Yes, the Child is wearing long sleeves because Goodness Gracious, it's dropped down into the Eighties so she claimed it was getting COLD!  Yep, she's mos def' an Arizona Native!  *Bwahahahaha!*

I would Love to own a piece of Art such as this... it reminded me of a Velveteen Rabbit Style of Fabric Art... the Skin Horse.

Just look at that life-like expression and the Jute Mane...

And Jute Tail... and the Grain Sack used to Create the hindquarters... Brilliant!

Even how plump the Scarecrow Rider was made him look like an Old Cowboy that maybe had one too many over the years at the Saloon.  *Smiles*

I had calendared this Trip in for the first day it would be open to the public, hoping that nothing would come up that would derail our Plans.   And hopeful as well that the entire Family would want to attend?

Sometimes getting the Guys to do anything or go anywhere with us is a particular Challenge.   I had to assure them both that since the Installments would not yet be complete there would not be massive crowds and sensory overload, which is a problem for both of them if there is.

And watching The Process would be a lot more Interesting and Educational for the G-Kid Force than seeing a completed Artistic Display too.  They are always more fascinated by how things are done than just the finished Work anyway.  This gave them the opportunity to ask Questions to those lingering Curiosities I cannot always answer but the Artist can.

It was an Enjoyable and Relaxing outing because it was so laid back and uncrowded right now.   Watching everyone putting the finishing touches upon the Displays and seeing them coming together and coming to Life was Pure Joy!

Along with the Fabulous finished Carvings like this one we were also able to see some being completed or being installed in their preservative environments... so it was a great behind the scenes opportunity we thoroughly Enjoyed.

Doesn't this Chimp carving have such a cheeky expression?   I can Imagine he just got caught causing trouble in a playful way, can't you?

The preservative mountings for Display are these Awesome faux Saguaro Cacti with magnifying glass cylinders filled with solution that the carved Pumpkins are Showcased inside of.  It blends well with the Natural Desert Environment of the Gardens as a Natural Gallery.

This one was very Interesting and I liked it... they had half filled the cylinder with fluids to make it look like it had just submerged itself and was holding it's breath underwater.

I also liked the Ghostly White of the interior of this Heirloom Pumpkin's flesh, gave it a very ethereal appearance.

I have to Confess that I was the only one of the Family with enough Attention Span though to properly soak in all the Inspiration and linger.   When you are dealing with those with extreme ADHD, Focus Issues or Brain Damage, well, they drift and wander off within a brief time span of taking in each piece!  So it was rather like herding Cats at each installation.  *LOL*

Where did this one go?  Where did that one go?  Are they together or have they split off in three different directions as I gazed at each Work of Art?!?  *Arghhh!*    Since The Man is a Wander Risk that also means someone had to be his Caretaker during the whole shebang so we each took turns keeping track of Grandpa so he wouldn't Wander off alone and get lost!

Thus, I apologize that some of my Photography suffered when I was "it" and keeping track of him.  The two previous Images being what happens when you're trying to line up a shot for the best possible outcome only to discover, aw shit, where the Hell did he go now?!?   And then have to abort Photography Mission to go find him since you don't wanna lose him on YOUR Watch... coz then who the Hell you gonna yell at, right?!  *Winks*

Usually his response would be that he'd wandered off to go find a Child... I'd have to remind him THEY aren't the ones that ever get Lost and can't find their way back.  In fact, I couldn't LOSE one or both of them if I TRIED!  Yeah, I've tried, they come back like human boomerangs, they have Gramma GPS, you can't shake or ditch 'em.  *LOL*

My one Rule is that if they wanna ditch us they have to stay TOGETHER for Safety reasons.  Which means I don't want him wandering back saying he Lost his Little Sister... or that she intentionally wandered off away from him either.   Hell to pay if that happens and Freedom would be revoked, so they stick to their Safety Prompts... often better than The Man does.

You think this Ole Gal looks like a Wicked Witch of the West... well, you ain't seen nothin' 'til you see Gramma Dawn in Wicked Mode... so the Force, they usually comply faithfully!!!  *Winks*   The Man is getting better in that he typically does not Wander far now when he wanders off or gets off task in Public, he knows he gets disoriented easily if he loses track of whatever Family Member is his Caretaker during an Outing.

So far, since he's had the Traumatic Brain Injury, we have not Lost him completely, which is rather Miraculous actually given all of us are similarly afflicted with varying degrees of ADHD or Focus Issues ourselves.   But like I said, keeping track of ALL of them when I've got them out together is akin to herding Cats!  *LOL*

And keeping everyone's Moods stabilized and regulated so that they're getting along and playing well with others within the Family Unit is also a challenge... since their Mood, for any of the three of them, can turn on a dime!!!  So you never know when a Fun Outing is going to Turn and nobody is apparently having Fun any more?!?!??!   *Le Sigh*

Princess T's being the most volatile for taking Offenses and bursting into Tears at the drop of a hat, so Behaviorally she can be the most Intense... Today being no exception to that Rule.  She had a few Tearful Moments and hurt Feelings Meltdowns since we were out for about six hours total, so there was no way she was going to be around the Guys that long and not have Mood Regulation Issues!  *Ha ha ha*  It didn't help that she spilled her drink at the Restaurant during Lunch... AS IF we'd EVER get thru a Meal WITHOUT incident????! *LMAO*

The Man's Moods can deteriorate quickly like a Toddlers when he gets overly tired or overly stimulated and Sensory Overload from having too much Fun sets in.  He doesn't Cope as well with Children now... not that many at our Season of Life do... but if you're Raising them, you HAVE to Learn to Cope.  So... he'll usually be the first to NEED to go Home and it becomes readily apparent the moment he gets Cranky and easily irritated by almost anything, anyone, everyone and everything.  That happened at about hour three of the Outing but we were way East Side to get to Carefree so he had to hang tough and endure.

The Young Prince is more about Attention Span, which is minimal... Focus, which is nonexistent... and Tolerance of others, which is definitely not one of his Strengths either.  *LOL*   But, he's more inclined to be withdrawn into his own World, Planet D, when he's Checked Out of whatever Activity is going on around him and will then be fixated with his Cell Phone.   I can easily hang with that disconnect, better than with the other two and how they react when they're not having Fun anymore!  *Smiles*

But the car ride... if it's a long commute, and this was... can be a particular challenge since all three of them will be confined to one small space.  Mediating THAT diplomatically is the bane of my existence!  This is why we don't do entire Family Outings often, unless I'm in Eternally Optimistic Mode and delude myself into thinking we can get thru it without incident.  *Ha ha ha*

Yes, we had Fun... and it was well worth it... and Yes, we also had some Tears, some Tantrums, some bickering, some threats, some Tormenting, some Mood de-stabilizations, some spilled drinks, some Crankiness, some wandering off, some total disinterest and claims of Boredom, some Drama... and that was just HER in the first two hours!!!   *Bwahahahahaha!   

The Guys were a little easier to Manage this particular day so long as they were Warned NOT to wind HER up anymore lest they Escalate things.   And I don't know why it is, perhaps a Death Wish on their part, but they seem to Delight in Escalating and intentionally or unintentionally pushing her buttons.   And I pity the Fool... as Mister T would have said... because that is just not Wise.

But I suppose when you're an Angst ridden Teen Boy with Serious Mental Health Issues or a Brain Damaged Man you just don't think things thru clearly before you Go There and prod the Beast or open your mouths!?   *LOL*   Yeah, don't let that Sweet Countenance fool ya, she could still look like this and go Psycho on you!!!  So I did spend a great deal of Commute Time diffusing and Mediating between the trio to ensure there was no Trouble in Paradise and no homicides within the vehicle on our Fun Day Out.  *Winks*

And as I soaked in the whimsical antics of the Pumpkins in Carefree Village I thought to myself, why can't Life be more like this... more CAREFREE, you know?   Being a Drama Free Mama myself I'd like for things and other people not to disturb my Blissful Existence.  Is anyone else like that I Wonder?

Are there Others that don't find it at all difficult to live in Harmony and Peace with most other folks?   I can do it quite effortlessly actually, since that is my preferred State of Being.   Now, that's not saying I don't possess a Dark Side, we ALL do... and if you think you don't, you're in complete Denial or deluded.  But I'm saying that I can keep that side in Check unless someone really Works at bringing it out in me and plays me Hard and refuses to heed all Warnings.

I could float thru Life in Harmony and at Peace whenever I'm not having to deal with people being difficult or unlovely... whether towards me or towards others.  I take it as a personal challenge actually to still TRY to remain in the Fruits of the Spirit when dealing with a difficult person or situation unfolding that is definitely not them at their loveliest.  Sometimes I even Succeed!  *Winks*  Today I would have to say I Succeeded... so it was a very Good Day indeed!

No, not a Perfect one, there were moments when I second guessed why we were doing this with everyone together or why it seemed like a Good Idea at the time when it was 10:00 am this Morning and nobody had deteriorated yet?!?  *LOL*

But, we did actually get out of the house at least this time without incident!  So I was Encouraged we could have a Good Family Day Outing without Drama or Crisis unfolding!!!

And the ride there wasn't half bad except for the dozen or so inquisitions about 'Are we there yet?' ... hey, that's a Given, right?  And not just with the Kiddos lemme tell ya!!!  *Winks*

I mean, Good Lord, it's a Given with this Crew on the ride Home to get a dozen or so 'Are we almost Home yet?" and they know where the Hell we live and can see the White Tank Mountain Range from practically anywhere in the Valley!!!!!  If the Mountains are far away, NO, we are NOT close to Home yet... if they are close, YES, we are!   *Smiles*

And I suppose it's also a Given that any Children in a back seat together are going to intentionally annoy the living daylights out of each other unless they see your Eyeballs glaring at them in that rear view mirror, right?  *Winks*

But outside of the vehicle they actually got along very well Today and managed not to fall into any of the water features either... for that I was very Proud of them... that's Progress in the right direction.   They stuck together like glue so that they could have the Freedom to ditch us and go see and do what they wanted within the confines of the Enchanted Pumpkin Gardens from time to time.  Then make their way back every so often to ensure Gramma hadn't jumped in the Truck and driven off without them.  *Winks*

The Man wasn't totally Bored out of his Mind by the whole Outing, though Art, hanging out with Artists and Carved Pumpkins aren't really his 'Thing' so I'm fairly certain he was not that Into It.   *Ha ha ha*  He didn't wander off too many times... and when he did whoever of us was in Charge of him found him right away so we didn't have to meet the Carefree Police to go on any Search and Rescue Mission looking for a Lost and Missing Grandpa.  I always dress him so he'd be easy to spot... nice bright Colors, just in case!  *Winks*

I do Hope you've thoroughly Enjoyed coming along with our Family this day to Experience Enchantment and Pumpkin Carving at it's finest?

I can't wait to go back when it's complete and see every Installment and every Pumpkin that will be carved, including a 400 lb. colossal Pumpkin, which wasn't there yet.

Ray will be Displaying Villafane Studios "10" best Sculpted Faces... so there will be many more being Created and Showcased.

The various Whimsical Pumpkin Vignettes will also have been completed by then too, there were numerous Work Crews building the Amazing Sets while we were there.

There will be a Jelly Belly BeanBoozled Challenge, Picasso Pumpkin Kids Arts and Crafts, Adopt a Pumpkin from the Pumpkin Patch, Culinary Delights and Craft Beer Garden plus many more Magical Activities!!!


Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian


  1. Ray Villafane is an amazingly talented and creative person! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. OH, lol, loved the pumpkins by the pool. Um, thought, one can not be cranky while singing---something about singing...occupies the brain enough to put other irritations out...But then, what to sing? Might be a thought...cause even someone providing backup fingers wrapping whistling, or do-wah-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-dy ---lol. That might help on longer trips...or even readjust brain waves to deride, tantrums and grief. Melter gets to pick the song...? Fun day anyway, lots of creativity out there in the desert. Thanks, Sandi

    1. We did do the singing thing, the kids enjoyed it but The Man wanted Peace and Quiet, any sensory overload sends him over the edge, so you cannot have too much going on around him in the way of activity or noise unfortunately. TBI is a very life altering injury, changes how that person can live and function greatly. But yes, we persevered and it was still a Fun Day. Thanks for the input Sandi... Dawn... The Bohemian

  3. Good for you for always planning fun outings for the family even though you know there will be some conflict! You are the BEST!

    1. Yes I am aren't I... Bwahahahahahahahaha... Thank you for the sweet words my Friend, we did have a good time. Since the G-Force is out on Fall Break all week I've planned a host of activities to make it Special and keep them amused. Dawn... The Bohemian

  4. Awesome pumpkin creations. This post is so relatable, I have a husband, 16yr son, 13yr daughter, 11yr daughter, 5yr old son. To find something they all enjoy impossible and the drama usually starts at the drive-way. I love to take photos also and well you know how it goes!

  5. What a great post. Good for you getting everyone to do a family trip.


A life touched by God always ends in touching others. - Erwin McManus

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. - Og Mandino (1923-1996)

For creativity to flourish one should try to look at everything as though it were being seen for the first or the last time. - Quote from "A Thousand Paths To Creativity" by David Baird

Is what I'm about to say an improvement on silence? ~ Galen Pearl