scorching, broiling, searing, blistering; sweltering, baking, roasting
104°  Nuff said.

More books and other distractions

At Play in the Fields of the Lord

matthiessenI read an article in the NY Times about Peter Matthiessen (’cause he just died, at 86), handsome rich boy turned writer turned CIA agent turned Zen priest1, and he kinda fascinated me.  (I like this photo of  Matthiessen, seated at center in dark sweater, on a Harvard-Peabody Expedition in New Guinea in 1961, with Michael Rockefeller [apparently killed later by Otsjanep villagers in New Guinea at the age of 23] at his left.)

So I chose one of his book, At Play in the Fields of the Lord, because it is set in Peru, and I’ve been there twice, the second time for a month on a tributary of the Amazon.  (I blogged the whole trip, starting with and continuing for a 11 blogs, if you’re interested.)

Goodreads summarizes the book:

In a malarial outpost in the South American rain forest, two misplaced gringos converge and clash. Martin Quarrier has come to convert the fearful and elusive Niaruna Indians to his brand of Christianity. Lewis Moon, a stateless mercenary who is himself part Indian, has come to kill them on behalf of the local comandante. Out of their struggle Peter Matthiessen has created an electrifying moral thriller, a novel of Conradian richness that explores both the varieties of spiritual experience and the politics of cultural genocide.2

Lewis Moon takes ayahuasca, a powerfully psychedelic South American brew3.  This Sunday’s NY Times had a article on the “trendy” ayahuasca:  The chief, Ramon, of Nuevo Jerusalen (sic), where we stayed, is an ayahuasca shaman, I found out later.  If I ever went back (my friends go for a month each year, and say that the villagers ask about me) I’d probably try ayahuasca, but I’m not going out of my way for it.

Uganda Be Kidding Me

I tried reading Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler, but even though it’s supposed to be “hilarious” it was too snarky for me, so I returned it to the library after the first chapter.

Designing the Natural Landscape

Did finish (with some skimming) Designing the Natural Landscape by Richard Austin.  Wanted to take a landscaping class at U of A this fall, but discovered that a 3-credit graduate course would cost me over $4000!  And this is a state school.  This brings home all of the articles I’ve read about the high cost of college today, and the plight of all of the graduates with $100,000 loans to repay!

Term: Fall 2014
Campus: main campus
Academic Career: graduate
Academic Program: CAPLA: Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning Master degrees
Residency: Resident

Units    Tuition  Program Fees Mandatory Fees TOTAL
3 units   $2,298      $1,500     $219.91          $4,017.91

So a friend suggested that I just study on my own.  There is one Required Text and 144 (!!) Additional Recommended Readings.  Obviously, I’m not purchasing the books, but asking the library to get them for me.  This one was from ASU.  Reading one book a week I should finish the readings in under three years!


The article in the Times was on Poetry, but I loved this elementary-school curriculum:

My ideal elementary-school curriculum would instead require all children to learn:

  1. the times tables up to, say, 25
  2. a foreign language, preferably obscure
  3. the geography of a foreign land, like New Jersey
  4. how to use basic hand tools and cook a cassoulet
  5. how to raise a bird or lizard (if the child is vegetarian, then a potato)
  6. poems by heart, say one per week
  7. how to find the way home from a town at least 10 miles away
  8. singing
  9. somersaults

With all that out of the way by age 12, there’s no telling what children might do. I have thieved a couple of items from W. H. Auden’s dream curriculum for a College of Bards. If my elementary school students are not completely disgusted by poetry, off they could go one day to that college, well prepared.4

I remember my son memorizing poems for one elementary school teacher.  His favorite was I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor by Shel Silverstein (who had been one of the leading cartoonists in Playboy):

Oh, I’m being eaten
By a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor,
And I don’t like it–one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It’s nibblin’ my toe.
Oh, gee,
It’s up to my knee.
Oh my,
It’s up to my thigh.
Oh, fiddle,
It’s up to my middle.
Oh, heck,
It’s up to my neck.
Oh, dread,
It’s upmmmmmmmmmmffffffffff . . .

But he also memorized all 15 stanzas of The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service, and got extra credit.


critters 010This birds’ nest was on the ground below one of my canales (translates as channels but are rain drains from the “flat” roof).  Don’t see any broken eggshells so maybe it slipped out before it was used?  Haven’t had any precipitation, so it didn’t get a push out.


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One Response to “Hot”

  1. Price Says:

    Entertaining as usual. When are you heading west to visit?

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