When Gary Morrow looks at a water bottle cap, he sees the suction cups of an octopus's long, winding, tentacles. A cotton picker part? A sunflower.
A toilet seat? A porthole for a pirate ship, of course.
For the midtown resident, all manner of junk is his treasure. He's been collecting it for years and incorporating it into the wall around his house - a colorful, ever-evolving work of art.
"I call this 'upcycling,' because everything done on this wall is made from recycled stuff," said the 65-year-old retired maintenance man.
The creation, at 3674 N. Park Ave., has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a cinder-block wall put up five years ago at the request of Morrow's wife when his truck was broken into.
He has since stuccoed over the blocks and painted it to look like the Catalina Mountains visible from his street.
"I came out here and I happened to look up right there and see that mountain right there, and I thought that looked like a good enough wall," Morrow said.
Over the last five years he's added an airplane made from tennis rackets, Christmas tree stands and a rocking chair; saguaros made from drainage pipes and studded with glass beads; and an Anasazi village carved from the clifflike stucco, which Morrow calls "Spirit Mountain."
There's a small cave carved into the wall that houses a miniature Western town. And on top of that, metal javelinas and a roadrunner pull a sleigh. He's got plans to create an interactive Mexican cantina for visitors to pose for photos, and a volcano and pterodactyl are also in the works.
"It seems like every two or three hours I get bored so I change something," said Morrow, who is known in the neighborhood as "the wall guy."
The most recent addition to the wall is a giant pirate ship setting sail from the driveway. For the last three years Morrow has used the space to build Halloween- and Christmas-themed scenes.
The pirate ship has clothes-hamper lookout posts, rails made from a baby crib, and an anchor that's really an old ax. Davy Jones from "Pirates of the Caribbean" stands guard atop the front of the ship, and a yellow octopus with a pool-filter body loops its pool-hose tentacles around the front of the ship. Come Christmastime, Santa will be at the ship's helm, and a holiday flag will replace the skull and crossbones.
The wall has made Morrow's house somewhat of a tourist destination. His neighbors bring their out-of-town guests over to see it, and he's had bus loads of senior citizens groups stop by. He's filled three guest books with kind notes and signatures from visitors from places such as London, Georgia, Denver and Florida. Cars tend to pass by Morrow's house driving very slowly, some even coming to a complete stop.
"This is the most popular street on this side of town," said E.P. Beeler, Morrow's neighbor. "Even the Fire Department, whenever there's a fire north of here, they make a point of coming back this way."
Morrow says creating the wall has been a kind of therapy for him.
"My dad, he used to say that I'll never amount to anything," Morrow said. "But everything I do everyone thinks is pretty cool."
Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at email@example.com or 573-4224.