Mark Ziven

We are fortunate at Yavapai Hills to have so many talented artists covering so many areas.  Mark Ziven is such an artist.  He has applied his amazing artistic talents to model trains.

Like so many children of his generation, especially boys, their dream toy was an electric train.  He relates:

“As a 5 year old in 1947, a Lionel toy train was everything in those early years! The train was my fantasy transportation to take me places, visiting family while traveling to new lands.”

He tells of his journey from his early experiences to the rediscovery of his interests in O-Scale model trains:

“I was an average student according to all my report cards my mother saved.

After some college, I worked for a large Chicago scrap iron/metal operation. Part of my daily tasks was to “take care” of the conductor of the Milwaukee Road switch engine crew. Take care?  I made sure he and the crew had coffee and donuts while dispatching their fleet of trucks and running the truck scales.

The calendar pages kept turning.  The Army, a wonderful wife, two loving daughters and soon the year 2008, retirement was at hand.

2009 found me as a full-time caregiver, Evelyn’s metastatic breast cancer had come back.  Now our social calendar was filled with doctors and Oncology treatments.

I filled my free time by building a model railroad that had been dormant for 61 years. Evelyn was a great cheerleader from the sidelines, watching with interest as I modeled our lives through this train layout.

Over the months and years, I was able to connect with others in this “O” scale model train hobby.   Six of us came together around 2010 becoming the Bradshaw Mountain Hi – Railers, now with special operational layouts on display at the Pine Ridge Marketplace.”

This display is open to the public on the first Saturday of each month.  Be sure to visit and look for Mark.  He is always happy to share his incredible wealth of information.

His home layout is amazing.  He has modeled the Milwaukee Road line.  He summarizes his objectives as:

“This model railroad was going to be state of the art; computer operated. There’s over 200 ft. of main line trackage for passenger and freight operations. A Goose Island switch yard and Union Station represent Chicago, a copper mining quarry operation represent Bisby, Arizona and there’s Westinghouse large transformer plant of Muncie, Indiana.”

When unable to find special cars from manufacturers, he began to apply his artistic talents:

“I dove into the world of kit bashing & custom decoration. But first, I got involved with the Milwaukee Road Historical Association.  My railroad needed to be period correct, modeling the late 40’s through late 70’s.  I wanted to give a “taste” of what operations were like in those years.

Special freight cars that serviced Westinghouse, passenger cars hauled along on the Olympian Hiawatha and a seldom seen branch line “Doodle Bug” went under the knife and airbrush to meet the roads requirements.”

His home model railroad was written up in October 2015 issue of “O” Gauge Railroading Magazine. His gas motor car, “Doodle Bug” and RPO car & Diorama won first place in the Milwaukee Road Historical Association 2017 annual convention modeling contest.

He went on to build a model of a “transfer caboose” used by the Milwaukee Road from actual archive blueprints. It looks just like it rolled out of the Milwaukee shops in 1956. It’s lit with special LED lamps exposing a perfectly detailed interior, girlie calendars in the bathroom along with the toilet seat left “Up.”

Always friendly and willing to share and help others, he does work for other association members as well as his many train friends here in Arizona.

His vision for the future?  “The years keep coming but I’m not letting the Old Man In!”


Sandy Gallo Lee

Meet Sandy Gallo Lee, from northern Maine and a resident here since 2010.  Sandy enjoyed her career as a pediatric speech language pathologist, but as a retiree she is most passionate about quilting.

Sandy learned to sew at the age of 4, standing at her mom’s treadle machine.  She started making quilts, quilted handbags and quilted maxi skirts.  For the last 15 years, Sandy has been quilting on a long arm machine with a 12’ frame.

Sandy is an active member of the local Project Linus chapter.  Project Linus is a   nationwide non-profit, dedicated to providing children with handmade comfort “blankets” (i.e. quilts, afghans, etc.). She organizes several “sew days” workshops a year for members to gather and make quilts for Project Linus.

Sandy is also a member in Mountain Top Quilt Guild, participating in their community quilts program and youth sewing classes.

Most recently Sandy became a volunteer costume technician for the Yavapai College Performing Arts Department.  She enjoyed working on costumes for “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Here in Yavapai Hills, Sandy organized “Stitch Sisters”, a group that meets in the Clubhouse Sunroom on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday from 1:00 pm until 3:00 pm.  Residents meet to sew, knit, crochet, or embroider.

Contact Sandy via text at 602-350-4845 or email at

Here are some pictures of the quilts she made for Project Linus…




Eve Weitze

If you’ve ever driven on Rough Diamond Drive and noticed either crocheted snowflakes or hearts in the windows, you’ve found Eve and her husband Harry.

Eve is self-taught and excels at many different crafts, esp. quilling and crochet.   She showed me photos of her work including gift tags and ornamentation with quilling, crocheted angels, doilies, sachets, potpourri, Christmas ornaments (her favorites), etc. etc.  In 2012 she entered four items in the Yavapai County Fair and won 7 ribbons.  In 2014, the Daily Courier had a contest to select the best decorated Christmas tree.  Eve showed me the photo of her wearing a handmade crocheted vest standing by a beautifully decorated tree with all her own handmade ornaments.  You guessed it, FIRST PRIZE!!!  For many years she sold her crafts at the Yavapai Hills Fall Craft Show.  She has also helped with donations for various charities.

Eve and Harry came to Yavapai Hills as retirees, and each has found a niche here that keeps them involved and busy, and suits them perfectly.  No rocking chairs for them – except to sit out on the back deck and enjoy the view.



Farrell Elizabeth Douglass

Farrell Elizabeth Douglass, a Yavapai Hills resident since 2012, was encouraged as a young girl to draw and paint.

After 20 years and 1 divorce, with 2 girls to raise, Farrell re-entered the job market.  At that time, the Phoenix Art Group was looking for artists to paint original art for the design trade.

The work was intense; working fast on the subject given, turning out 10-15 paintings per week helped her to learn a lot and fast.  She lost her job when the Phoenix Art Group folded but was then contacted by an art sales agent from the LA area, who wanted to represent her. He took her work to Hollywood and was successful in renting and selling her art. Farrell occasionally sees one of her paintings while watching TV.

The Think Art Gallery in Scottsdale features her work, plus she does commission work for individuals.  There are some “subjects” that are very close to her heart that she enjoys painting.  Latest example: “Into the Wild” Series featuring endangered animals throughout the world.

Check out more of her work at where she is identified by her pseudonym Liz Farrell.     

Rick Cucuzza

Rick Cucuzza a Yavapai Hills resident since 1988 “is” evoL-utionairy – his talent, his creativity, his music, his imagination, along with his technical wizardry has helped him to create a one-man band. He creates ever-evolving live musical performances using his voice and a wide variety of electronic devices musical instruments (manipulated with his feet). There are no pre-recorded tracks ever used. Some of his performances are totally impromptu and others always uniquely different. He plays a variety of music to please everyone, including Contemporary Jazz, Blues, Funk, and Rock. Rick does cover music, as well as his own unique originals.

Rick began playing bass guitar at age 15 (loving the powerful feel of amplified bass), but soon switched to guitar, a much more expressive instrument. He played in the Southern California area with several local groups for 15 years.

In 1980, he found the instrument of his dreams – the Chapman Stick ( He literally gave up guitar to woodshed this new technique of playing music. He has played in our area in original, as well as cover, bands ever since. As of 2016, his main focus has become his single act called “evoL-ution”, performing “live” as a one-man-band. You can catch his shows all over northern Arizona. Find out more and check out his schedule at



Rose Boyd

Rose and Carl Boyd, Yavapai Hills residents since 2004, where they immediately felt welcome with open arms.  They enjoy the sense of community and the friendly people who always wave while walking or driving through the neighborhood. They also enjoy the many social activities at the Clubhouse, especially the events where neighbors mingle and dance to music. Rose loves to dance and needs no encouragement to get out on the dance floor.

Rose uses insomnia as an excuse to be creative in the middle of the night. She prefers to paint rather than count sheep. You can see an example of her artwork in the clubhouse. It’s a painting of a bobcat that she donated to our community. It hangs in our clubhouse by the game tables.

This night owl also dabbles in poetry and has managed to publish two novels since retirement: THE SPAGHETTI SET, Family Served Italian Style set in post WWII New Jersey and just recently DEPENDING ON YOUR VIEW: A Snoopaholic’s Quandry set in modern day Prescott AZ.

Here’s a short excerpt of from her the ‘snoop” book:

Maria continued to watch through her binoculars, hoping for signs that Denise hadn’t been totally maimed. She expelled a sigh of relief when she saw the young woman hobbling with her son in tow. But she panicked when their lights went out. She considered Bob capable of slitting his wife’s throat. She refused to imagine what he might do to his children.

Adrenalin pumped through her veins as she stumbled down from her wrought iron perch. She ran back to the bedroom and, halting at Jack’s bedside, nudged his shoulder. 

When he didn’t awaken, she whacked him harder. “Jack, get up! There’s a problem across the street. We need to go over there!”

Jack lifted his head and sputtered, “What? Where?”

Maria took a deep breath and then repeated her words even faster. “I saw Bob Bendon throw a chair at his wife,” she added. “I’m afraid he’s gonna kill Denise.”

“Maria. Calm down. You must’ve had a nightmare.”

“If you won’t help, I’m calling the police.”

“No. If you call the cops ’n tell them you’ve been peeping in the neighbors’ windows, they’ll arrest your ass. Now come back to bed.” Jack grabbed hold of Maria’s arm and pulled her onto the mattress. He held her to his chest. “Relax, Maria. Relax.”

“Let go of me!” The more Maria thrashed the tighter Jack gripped her. “Who’ll help her if we don’t?” She kicked a foot backwards against his shin. Why’d I bother to wake him?

Jack wrapped a leg around the two of hers, immobilizing them. “Come on. Knock it off, Maria. You know you’re no match for me.”

She struggled for several more minutes before she went limp. “Jack, please. Let me make that call. I have to help her. Devo.”

“Nope, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Can’t let you make a fool of yourself. You’ll thank me in the morning.” He nuzzled the nape of her neck. “Calm down, Maria. Everything will be all right. Like I said, you just had yourself a nightmare.”

Maria stiffened. “NO! L’ho visto. I saw him attack her with my own eyes.”

A vision of Bob wielding a butcher knife threw Maria’s adrenalin into wilder fluctuation. “Let me call the police!” she shouted. “Denise needs their help! Let me dial 9-1-1!” She repeated raspier versions of the same hysterical refrain until, exhausted from the effort, she fell asleep in Jack’s arms.


Mike Boren

Art has played an important role in Mike’s life since he was a very young boy. His Dad would sit with him for hours showing ways to improve his drawing skills.

As he grew up and improved, he developed a keen interest in mechanical subjects; cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes which he drew constantly. At nineteen, he was summoned to Vietnam. Though his training was in radio communications, he still continued to draw.  Having been asked by the CO who say his drawings, asked him to submit and publish in military publications.  This could have been the start of his art career, but he didn’t stick with it.  Mike states that he has had “an on and off relationship with creating art to this day.”

At age 50 he happened to see a copy of a painting that inspired him so much that he decided that he was going to learn to paint, moving from pencil to paint. He basically taught himself about painting; certainly not the most direct path to becoming a skilled painter.

As his skills progressed and started showing his work at art shows and competitions, he was met with lots of feedback from those more experienced and trained.  Though his confidence was rattled enough, he didn’t give up.  Time progressed and so did his art.


He joined different art groups to further the learning process and that experience had a significant impact on his work. He received “Artist of the Year” award from two of the groups which was a landmark achievement for him and his confidence.

Since that time, he has made aviation art his primary topic.  Making his efforts count in the most valued way, he paints planes of World War II and donates them to the brave veterans that flew in them during that conflict.

For all of us, Mike shares, “there is a path that curves and turns with many obstacles and surprises along the way. If you stay on that path, you will never reach the end.  But along the way the rewards are wonderful, and the journey is so worthwhile.”



Bette Boren

I have had an interest in photography since High School. I was the one walking around with a camera in hand at parties, hiking and other events. After High School I took a few courses in Photography at Fullerton College and was fortunate to have one of my photos of a Hermit Crab featured for the month of July in the College calendar. Then I took a correspondence course with the New York Institute of Photography. This was back before computers and digital cameras and I would have to mail my assignments to them.

At one point I had turned a walk-in closet of our home into a dark room and enjoyed producing black & white and sepia toned photos. I loved giving some of my photos an old time look by painting parts or all of the photo with photo oils. This was back in the film days.

I had many hobbies and interests all involving some sort of creativity. Then my stained- glass hobby turned into a business and that took me through the next 18 years of my life. I built windows for Churches, restaurants and custom homes from San Diego to San Fernando Valley in California. During this time my photography pursuit got put on the back burner and forgotten about.

During the next 20 years of my life, I became a realtor and was known by my colleagues as a hardworking top producer. There were times that I had 7-8 homes listed for sale at one time. This business took all of my life and I found myself working what felt like 24/7. In actuality, I worked until 10 or 11 pm every day of the week. I only existed to work. I had gotten sucked into becoming a workaholic. My life enjoyment was gone. With all of the appointments and deadlines that job required, I was on a rollercoaster that I couldn’t get off. My life was meaningless and my artistic juices drained. Thank God, He got me out of that rut. He had to do it the hard way, but it worked.

This is the back-story that propelled me forward and back into a life worth living, a life of beauty, enjoyment and photography.

In December of 2009 I needed a simple outpatient gallbladder removal surgery due to gall stones. I was supposed to be back at work in two days. Instead, things went terribly wrong and rather than being back at work in 2 days I ended up being admitted into the hospital and needed a total of 7 surgeries. After my 2nd surgery I almost died while in the hospital, when I hemorrhaged and lost 4 ½ pints of blood. Ironically this was on my birthday Dec. 13th. I spent the next month in intensive care on deaths doorstep as organs failed and more surgeries were needed. It was a long slow recovery and took several years of recuperating before I finally felt somewhat normal again. But I had finally gotten off the rollercoaster and was not working at full speed ahead anymore.

God in His mercy had a better plan for me and my life. This was the reality check that I needed.

My near-death experience is what truly gave me back my life. I had to be knocked down to stop and look up and realize how I was wasting the life God had given me. Life is too precious and I was granted a second chance at it. With faith in God and His goodness to me, He rescued me and has made my life viable again.

Seeing life through new eyes and meaning, I appreciated everything living. All of God’s creatures, the birds and bees, flowers, trees – all of nature is alive and beautiful. God says, “Even the rocks cry out to Him in praise.” People don’t realize that bugs look at you when taking their photo. Mother birds are so gentle with their young. I knew I had to pick up my camera again to try to capture this magnificent creation all around us in all of its charm and mystery to share with others.

You cannot help but look at nature and see the signature of the Almighty Artist, our Creator. The earth is vibrantly alive with God, giving vivid evidence to His presence. If you slow down your pace of life, you can find God everywhere and come to realize He is right here among us.

A focus on God and nature keeps us in the present; it stops us from worrying about the future, regretting the past and wasting the pleasures of each day in this life. With my collection of photographs, I want to preserve a moment of time that is here and now, alive and waiting to be explored. Maybe this will encourage you to get out and enjoy nature too.

Bette Boren

All of my photos of wildlife are taken in nature, not at zoos or wild animal parks.



Peter Gebauer

Chef Gebauer AAC WCMC GMC, retired with his wife Aime and daughter Anna Claudia to Yavapai Hills this past summer, after running the Watson Lake Inn Bed & Breakfast in the Granite Dells since 2017.

The chef and his family had created a real culinary destination in Arizona. To celebrate their five-year anniversary, they published the Watson Lake Inn Family Cookbook, the story, the vision, history, and collection of tantalizing recipes that nourish both the body and the soul. The Inn’s commitment to serving meals that used fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients, combined with Global flavors and delicate preparation had been the hallmark of their program since the beginning. Watson Lake Inn “Where culinary experiences become lifetime memories”. 

Chef Gebauer had an extensive career in the international hospitality industry, opening new resorts, cruise lines and developing food & beverage concepts. During his career Chef Gebauer was involved in consulting projects around the world, earning him many memberships and awards. He catered to royal families, presidents, and governments, and was featured on TV shows in Germany as well as the US. He cooked at the James Beard House in New York City and frequently at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.


Growing up in the Bavarian Alps, he had a humble childhood in the countryside and began his culinary career as an apprentice in a boutique hotel where he became a certified chef with honor after three years. He sailed around the world onboard luxury cruise lines and worked in Hong Kong & the Middle East, before returning to Germany to become Certified Master Chef.

He became Executive Chef onboard the legendary SS Norway at age thirty, then returned to Singapore for the startup of Star Cruises and later Disney Cruise Line in Florida. He participated in several openings for Palace Resorts in Cancun then moved to Nashville to become the Executive Chef at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. Years later he moved to Wisconsin taking the culinary helm at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, one of the largest Native American Casino operations.

While in Wisconsin, Chef served as an advisor to both culinary schools in the Milwaukee area, and on the Wisconsin Restaurant Association board of directors; actively supporting the community and local charities. He served two terms as President of the ACF Chefs of Milwaukee and is a member of the American Academy of Chefs AAC, the Honor Society of the American Chefs Association.

Chef Gebauer published his first book in 2009, Omnivore’s Travel which takes an unprecedented approach in examining his international career and more. His second publication in 2013, My Culinary Academy is a comprehensive textbook for progressive culinary training and development.

Now that the family has settled in Yavapai Hills, he’d love to continue sharing his passion for food and hospitality, especially in the neighborhood. Soon offering private cooking classes in a more intimate setting once more, perhaps even private dinners to cater to the many loyal clients from the past, as well as foodies Yavapai Hills.

Here are three of Peter’s favorite recipes:




Watson Lake Inn Family Cookbook and more at Amazon

Contact Peter via LinkedIn: or call 262-899-0200

Zvi Kowit

From Engineer to Woodworking Artistry:  Crafting the Beauty of Wood

By Zvi Kowit

Life is a journey and sometimes it takes a few twists and turns to discover your true passion.  My own journey, which led me from a successful engineering career in the bustling tech hub of the San Francisco Bay area to the serene landscapes of Prescott, Arizona, was one filled with challenges, self-discovery and an unyielding love for wood.

For over 25 years, I worked diligently as an engineer, contributing to the innovations of several high-tech companies, including a significant stint at Apple as a surface finish engineer.  The corporate world was demanding, and the Bay Area’s frenetic pace was all-consuming.  Yet, amid the hustle and bustle, I always carried a yearning for something more, something deeply rooted in my childhood.

As a child, I was captivated by the magic of woodworking.  The tactile nature of the craft, the way a block of wood could be transformed into artistry, had always held my fascination.  It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I took my first steps into the world of woodturning, acquiring a Vicmarc VL 300 lathe.  Little did I know that this decision would ultimately reshape my life.

Woodturning became my refuge, my creative outlet and my sanctuary from the demands of corporate life.  I began crafting wooden bowls as a hobby, pouring my heart and soul into each piece.  The satisfaction of transforming raw timber into exquisite, functional art was immeasurable.  It was as if I had found my true calling.

After two decades of perfecting my craft, I knew it was time to make a profound change.  I left the corporate world behind and embarked on a new adventure, founding ZK Creations LLC.  My journey from engineer to woodworking artisan was complete.

Today, I create a diverse range of wooden products, with each piece bearing the mark of my dedication and the inherent beauty of the wood itself.  Whether it is a finely turned bowl, a meticulously crafted bottle opener, or a personalized gift, my goal is simple: to share the inherent beauty of wood with the world.

I hope that every individual who uses my creations experiences the same profound appreciation that I feel while crafting them.  For me, woodworking is a form of meditation, a way to connect with the natural world, and an ongoing journey of self-improvement.  With every piece I create, I strive to bring out the wood’s true beauty, revealing the hidden patterns and textures that make each creation unique.

My journey from engineer to woodworking artisan has been a leap of faith, a pursuit of passion, and a celebration of the artistry hidden withing the grains of wood.  As I continue to hone my skills and explore the endless possibilities of this craft, I invite you to join me on this incredible journey of craftsmanship, creativity, and this timeless beauty of wood.

Discover unique, handcrafted creations that celebrate the beauty of craftmanship at