Archive for the ‘Arizona’ Category

Moving On

August 16, 2017

No, not me.  Jonathon Overpeck, the U of A professor I’d had for a Humanities class on Climate Change1, a globally recognized climate researcher who co-authored a Nobel Prize-winning report2, after having said that the lowering water level in the Colorado River would doom life in Southern Arizona3, has left U of A for a position at the University of Michigan.

Then there’s Usain Bolt of Jamaica, who had compensated pretty well for having scoliosis, leaving his right leg half an inch shorter than his left,

Though Bolt stands 6 feet 5 inches, he starts nearly as explosively as smaller sprinters and needs only 41 strides to cover 100 meters, while other elite runners need 43 or 45 or even 48.

On average, Bolt struck the ground with 1,080 pounds of peak force on his right leg and 955 pounds on his left leg. Because his right leg is shorter, it has a slightly longer drop to the track, contributing to a higher velocity for that step.4

and who I wrote about during the 2012 Olympics5, who pulled

…up with an apparent injury in the men’s 4×100-meter relay final at the world track and field championships on Saturday…  It was hardly the farewell party that Bolt had in mind when he decided to make this meet the final one of his career.6 (Photo by Martin Meissner/Associated Press)

Storm


I actually took this photo in July before a storm.  Think we had the last monsoon of the season last week.  My phone woke me at 1:30am and 3:30am with storm and flood warnings.  Decided it was time to google how to take those warnings off my phone.  Done.  And for all of the blustery winds, we only got maybe an inch of rain here.

But New Orleans flooded yet again, on August the fifth.

NEW ORLEANS – A massive series of rain storms dumped between 8 and 10 inches of rain in the metro New Orleans area over about a three-hour time span, flooding streets, stranding motorists and – unlike two weeks ago – getting in to some homes, cars and businesses.8

After Hurricane Katrina I worked for FEMA for eight months in Mississippi9, so I do have some informed opinions.  After Katrina, the National Flood Insurance Program paid out $16.3 billion in claims. $13 billion went to claims in Louisiana.  hurricane-katrina-statistics-fast-facts

In Arizona, or at least Pima county, you are not allowed to build in a 500-year flood zone.  Gee, that makes sense.  So rather than the National Flood Insurance Program paying people to fix their houses, or rebuild their houses right back in the flood zone, why don’t the Feds just give each family a fair price for their house (yes, this could be businesses too – I worked with school districts, and after Katrina smashed three blocks of houses into an elementary school, and four feet of water sat there, impregnating the CMU block construction with mucky water that turned to mold, the district decided to build farther from the Gulf of Mexico, away from the flood zone – duh!) and forbid anyone to build in a flood zone!  The government would be out a lot of money short term, but then they could disband the stupid system.

And then there’s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moving sand back onto Dauphin Island, Alabama, a strip of land with beach houses for the well-to-do.  I saw it after Katrina, but before the sand was moved back.  Sand washes away with each storm.  Leave those rich people without sand, and maybe they’d move away…

Spark Joy

Finished Marie Kondo’s second book, Spark Joy.  Only filled up one giant trash container and one giant recycle container.  But am donating, to Goodwill, five more giant trash bags of mostly Christmas decorations, including fourteen strings of outdoor lights that I used to put out.  In fact, for the last house I built, my electrical engineer put in electric sockets on the garage roof, switched from indoors.  Loved that.  But I never have Christmas at my house, and my daughter has enough of her own decorations.

Also donated a few of the winter sweaters that my mother knit probably forty years ago.  Had to say goodbye to them (which the book instructs you to do).  Don’t even remember what’s in one of the black plastic trash bags.  Also have to get rid of the steamer truck (covered in contact paper) that my ex- and I used for our first coffee table!  Way tacky.  Has been full of Christmas decorations ever since.

Also must sell my Grandmother’s china set, which I only use once a year for a large party.  No one in the family wants it, and I don’t even like it -it has a platinum edge , but then dainty pink and grey flowers.  My next-door neighbor in Starr Pass said that her mother had the same pattern, Noritake china – Glenwood pattern.  There are numerous partial sets for sale on ebay, for quite a lot!  Also many shown on etsy and pinterest.  Interesting history:

The Noritake of today grew out of a trading company that was originally established by the Morimura Brothers in New York in 1876. This trading company imported chinaware, curios, paper lanterns and other gift items. In 1904 [it] …was established in the village of Noritake, a small suburb near Nagoya, Japan. It took until 1914… to create the first porcelain dinnerware plate that was suitable for export.  noritake-history

Then there’s my grandmother’s vintage Coronation Oneida Community silver plate flatware set.  (The Coronation pattern was introduced to commemorate the crowning of King Edward VIII in England – which never did happen.7)  Had to google a couple of items.  Believe the spoon on the left to be a dessert spoon, the next a soup spoon, the third a bon bon spoon ( also called a jelly server and a stewed tomato strainer!).  Then there are four kinds of knives in this pattern, not counting the butter knives and butter spreaders.  I apparently have french grille knifes (top) and modern grille knives.  (Grille knives have shorter blades than dinner knives, which have the same length blade and handle.)

1climate-change blog
2jonathan-overpeck-leaving-university-of-arizona
3colorado-river-water-climate-change
4usain-bolt-stride-speed
5scroll down to 2012 Olympics in the-ovens-a-dry-heat-too blog
6usain-bolt-relay-world-championships
7Oneida-Community-Plate-CORONATION
8massive-rain-swamps-metro-no-saturday
9blog is-this-the-end

Tucson, Mid-July

July 10, 2017

It’s 110° and the clouds are building up over the mountains for our anticipated monsoons, but the humidity is only 9%, so guess it won’t rain tonight.  Yesterday evening had eight drops of rain on my kitchen window!

For the Fourth of July we had BBQ with another family (also with a grandmother included).  The family room had an enormous television on the entire time with a miscellaneous movie.  Some of the kids watched it for ten minutes or so.  The living room was taken up by a jumping castle, kinda like this one.  Six kids, from three to eleven, make an incredible din!

Dinner.  It was much too hot to eat outside so we adults got the dining room, the kids the breakfast room.  The father smokes his own pork, and the pulled pork was incredible delicious. (I didn’t try the ribs.)  My daughter made sangria and marvelous hors d’oeuvres (prosciutto spread with boursin, wrapped around asparagus), I brought watermelon with a cute sculpture on top (which I copied from an internet video, but it’s no longer there!) all of which the kids devoured, and there was coleslaw and a potato salad and a red-white-and-blue cake which I didn’t even taste, I was so full.

Then fireworks in the street.  (In Arizona you’re only allowed fireworks that stay on the ground, so sparklers and smoke bombs are popular.)  After which we drove to a school parking lot above Naranja Park, so we didn’t have to battle for parking, and watched the fireworks with about a dozen other clever families, all with camp chairs.

The coyote wandered by my fence yesterday afternoon, which is no doubt why the ground squirrels are not agilely climbing over my fence today to dine on the wandering jew, with mint for dessert.  (Oops – until just now!)

There was a cactus  longhorn beetle at my door yesterday.  Then are very large, and eat chollas and prickly pear cacti.

Had the grandsons (six and eight) over Friday afternoon, as the rental agency had a guy fixing the leak in the drip system. (! I thought I’d have to do it, so spent two days digging a hole to the PVC pipe in this hard hard dirt.)  The boys got into my games cabinet and I taught them pente, mastermind, and backgammon.  The youngest wants to play monopoly all of the time, but I’ve gotten tired of it.  We played battleship, jenga, and Jamaican-style dominoes at their house the other day.  (You can only spend so much time in the pool!)

Reading

To get my mind off politics, and instead of streaming any more TV series in the evening (except for binging on Anne With an E, and the movie Okja), had read a few scifi.  Got an audio book from the library, an oldie, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein (used to read a lot of his novels), about a lunar colony’s revolt against rule from Earth.  Interesting look at the future.  The guy who does the reading does the many accents very well.  I usually fell asleep to it, then had to figure where I left off.

Next read The Mote in God’s Eye, by Niven and Pournelle, about the first contact between humanity and an alien species.  Creative take on aliens (not limited to two arms and two legs, as the aliens in the “gateway drug”, Star Trek, which were restricted due to budget – except for the tribbles).  Heinlein described the story as “possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.”

Then I finally got A Man Called Ove,  an international bestseller, recently translated from Swedish, from the library as CD’s, as I enjoy someone reading to me at night.  Loved it!  Laughed and cried (numerous tissues).  Highly recommend it.  It’s now a movie, nominated for two Academy Awards, streaming on Netflix.  Wonder if I’d like that as much as the book…

The New York Times had an article, Summer Reading Books: The Ties That Bind Colleges (college-summer-reading), last Sunday.  Shall put a number of the recommended books (Just Mercy, Hillbilly Elegy, and possibly Silence, which is now a movie, as well as others) on my request list at the library after I get back from my next trip, visiting cousins in Colorado.

Politics

Speaking of which, also in the Times, was a commentary, The Problem With Participatory Democracy Is the Participants.  I was insulted.  You may wish to read it and comment: participatory-democracy

Back in The Heat

June 28, 2017

Seen Today

A quail with two young’uns crossing the road.  A ground squirrel climbing up the welded wire into my yard to break off pieces of my purple wandering jew; would have thought that it was poisonous. A pair of pyrrhuloxias on the fence.  (Photo of the ground squirrel on the other side of the fence with branch, and a pyrrhuloxia on the purple sweet potato vine.)

A gila woodpecker at the birdbath.  A dove on the barrel cactus eating the fruit.  A coyote behind my  yard chasing (unsuccessfully) the ground squirrels.  (Sorry – bad photo; he was moving fast.)  This hot (106° today) desert is home to many.  But the neighbor’s mesquite has rained seed pods all over; where are the javelina and deer who should be eating them?

My housesitter found a baby snake in the house (how did it get in?), said it refused to be caught, so she had to kill it and save its body for me.  It appears to be a baby kingsnake.

Missed so much last week!  Oro Valley police beat said that one woman was ticketed for illegally making a U-turn, and three teenagers were caught with a bong.

And hadn’t been watching the national news either.  Never heard of Kim Kardashian’s blackface controversy.  Nor of Randy Rainbow’s “Covfefe: The Broadway Medley.”  (He’s A Bit Much, but he has a nice voice, and you can google it.) Or that Jared Kushner finally speaks: Jared Kushner Speaks.

But yes, I do know that Bill Cosby got off, and that the Congressional Budget Office said of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 that The Senate bill would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million in 2026 relative to the number under current law.

(Have time to catch up on my blogs ’cause my daughter’s family is escaping the heat with another family in the White Mountains for a few days.)

On the Home Front

June 17, 2017

Okay – I haven’t done all of my Berlin blogs yet.  In the middle of Day 4, but took my granddaughter (11) to see Wonder Woman this afternoon.  Interesting comment on our warlike society (WWI).  At the age of 20, Israeli star Gal Godot served for two years as an enlisted soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, serving as a combat trainer. She learned to stop bullets with her wrists, to throw tanks, and to leap tall buildings in a single bound (with more panache – and less clothes – than Superman).  2 hours 20 minutes.

When I returned from my trip the garden was going crazy!  Kinda like jungle vines in horror movies that creep through your window and strangle you at night.  Then a wind downed the tomatoes, cages and all.  Lost a few cherries.  Had to put nails in the wall to attach them.  Many squash.  Am eating two tomatoes a day to keep up.

Heard some chirping in the garden this morning and when I went to check it out, a cardinal flew off with one of my cherry tomatoes.  Didn’t know they ate them but the internet said they do in dry conditions.  As in any time in Tucson.  104° today, but 113° by Monday.  Good time to be leaving for northern California, as in tomorrow morning.

I mentioned the second set of dove chicks in this blog, The Garden.  Went to clean out the nest when I returned to town, but the dove was starting a new brood!  Reminds me of my maternal grandmother, who had 11 kids (and then her husband died).  But yesterday morning, when I was out back in my yukata, two men walked into the yard!  Turns out the owner has a contract for them to “clean” the yard every 6 weeks.  (I was only there at that time of day because after two day of sitting for my three grandkids, I was too tired to go to exercise class!) The foreman was surprised how well the garden was doing.  Not sure the previous renters watered or trimmed anything.

“Cleaning” seems to consist of blowing all of the dead leaves into a corner, with the deafening noise of a plane taking off, then raking them up and taking them away.  All windows are then covered in tiny leaf pieces.  Plus (as the dove had flown in fright), they blew leaves off the top of the wall, and one of the dove eggs was blown from the nest, broken on the brick patio.  I did ask the foreman to trim a couple of rangy Texas rangers that I hadn’t gotten to before the heat hit.  And they carted off the 8-foot-long branch that I had sawn off the palo verde, but then had no energy to saw in thirds for the trash.  (However, I think that I may decline this service from now on.)

 

The Garden

May 25, 2017

My tiny vegetable garden is very happy with being watered twice a day.  There are three tomato plants (closeups of the large tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes, which will no doubt ripen when I’m in Berlin next week; the housesitter can enjoy them) and an eggplant in the back.  The cucumber and squash vines completely cover the carrots (which take a long time to grow) and spinach (from which I’m harvesting the largest leaves, leaving the plants to continue producing.  Yesterday I got half a bag for a salad.)  One spinach leaf had a caterpillar encased in what looked like plexiglass on a leaf; I moved that leaf to another part of the yard in case it becomes a beautiful butterfly.

My neighbor was out the other morning (in short shorts – and she’s older than I am!) taking photos of her blooms.  The red birds of paradise (the left is hers, the right is “mine”) look gorgeous, even in front of lavender Texas ranger flowers, about the shade of  “my” purple prickly pear cactus on the right.  But the star of the show was her night-blooming cereus, which hadn’t faded out yet, and blooms only once a year!

Amazing that some plants love the heat.  My bulbine frutescens (a plant from South Africa), sends out long stalks with tiny yellow flowers.

Must mention that I have another pair of mourning doves raising two chicks, farther down the wall from the last dove family.  One of the parents sits patiently on the nest as I water my potted plants under it, but the other flaps noisily out of the nest when I just open the back door!

Summer is here!

Yes, we had one day over 100° a few weeks ago, but yesterday it was 102°, and in another week the serious heat will start; the temps will no doubt be in the 100’s for months. The rest of you in the northern hemisphere may start summer on June 20, but we start with those 100° temperatures!

Looks like Berlin’s not going to be as cool as I had hoped.  (Going with the Contemporary Art Society – CAS – from the Tucson Museum of Art -TMA.)  However, my daughter got me a tiny umbrella (something we rarely use here in the desert) for Mother’s Day, which fits in my purse, so I’m set for Tuesday and Friday.

Easter 2017

April 17, 2017

Dyed eggs with my three grandchildren.  It’s trite, but they do grow up so fast!

Spring Flowers

Some of the palo verdes in the wash behind my house have turned yellow.  One of mine is now in flower.  The tiny backyard is looking beautiful.  A friend gave me a yucca and two prickly pear cuttings to fill in around the huge barrel cactus and rocks (see photo).


I think the quail have nested under a large Texas ranger in the side yard.  “Dad” was patrolling along the wall.

There is 18″ of 1/4” welded wire wrapped around the backyard wrought iron fence, and I assumed, when I planted a vegetable garden in a corner of the yard, that no rodents would get in.  Then I spied a rabbit, frantically trying to get out, until he realized that I was watching him through the window, and he froze. When I went out to open the gate to shoo him out, he was gone, and a dent in the top of one section of the welded wire.  He was so scared that he didn’t eat anything!

 

I enjoy seeing neighbors’ yards in bloom when I walk to the mailbox.  My next-door neighbor has this cactus in a pot, where it’s happily blossoming in fuchsia.  Orange flowers on a cactus down the street.  And this purple prickly pear is squeezed between an ocotillo and a saguaro.  My own prickly pear flowers.

 

Art

Can’t remember what I was looking for when I found Erwin Wurm’s One-Minute Sculptures on the Net. Check out all three websites – there are lots more.

 

http://publicdelivery.org/erwin-wurm-one-minute-sculptures/
http://www.stuk.be/en/one-minute-sculptures
http://sculpture.artapsu.com/?p=1581

Smoke Bomb Photos

Then I somehow got into these smoke bomb photos.  Above, by Julie SmithAviphile, “Lover of Birds.”

And this one: Se me escapan las ideas by Marina Gondra
http://marinagondra.com/

But that’s enough for tonight. http://myportraithub.com/smoke-bomb-photography/  And you can google for hundreds more…

Dearly Departed

April 5, 2017

No, they’re not dead, just gone.  “My” baby doves got so big Mom couldn’t fit in the “nest” (a small pile of twigs) any more, but stopped by occasionally to give them some pigeon milk.  That was something I didn’t know about previously.  According to Wikipedia:

Crop milk is a secretion from the lining of the crop of parent birds that is regurgitated to young birds. It is found among all pigeons and doves where it is referred to as pigeon milk…

Then I didn’t see them in their nest, so I went out to trim some bushes outside the window of my breakfast room (which I am using for an office), and they were sitting on the windowsill, across the narrow side yard from their nest.  But I had upset them, so they flew away.  They returned in the evening twice to the wall outside the kitchen, but I think Mom had decided that they could be on their own, so they’re gone.


A week ago it was so windy that people with respiratory problems, old people, and young children were asked to stay indoors and refrain from exercise.  I heard that on the news as I was driving to the Y to exercise.  The mountains were almost obscured, but I still loved looking at them.

The soil is pretty sandy here, which is maybe why the cactus grow so large.  Here are three on my street, on the walk to the mailboxes.  The biggest yucca and century plant I have ever seen, up to the house eves!  And a plump and happy saguaro.

Spring has hit Tucson with a splash of yellow.  It started with the brittlebush and desert marigolds at the side of the roads (with  an occasional slash of red or pink penstemon), then on to the palo verdes, heavy with flowers (with intermittent stripes of gaudy magenta bougainvillea – this in my back yard, the same color as all of the bougainvilleas in my subdivision).

I stopped in a parking lot yesterday to take these photos with my phone, but the wind was blowing pretty hard, so they look “painterly”.  The blooms started in the washes, and have been climbing up to the higher elevations.  Beautiful along La Cañada and La Cholla, and River Road especially!  Oro Valley is a bit higher than Tucson, so my three palo verdes are still covered with buds.

Seen Today

A quail couple, apparently looking for a suitable place to nest, he on the fence, alert for predators, but giving his mate helpful suggestions, she checking out the purple Mexican petunia in the backyard.  (These beautiful flowers only last one day.)

A bulky guy with blond hair past his shoulders, in shorts, shirt tied about his waist, walking along the road.  (It was cool this morning, and I was wearing a sweater!)

The area behind the fenced-in part of the back yard is riddled with holes.  Saw the first round-tailed ground squirrel today, but he didn’t stick around for a photo op.

Sculptor Ira Weisenfeld’s Boat in a Tree, on Wetmore.  Must take my own photo of it.  This from the sculptor’s website, https://www.circleofironforge.com/about-me.

Ubiquitous clutches of cyclists in colorful lycra.

At a light, a taxi-yellow sports car in front of one of the palo verdes overladen with yellow.  I was turning, and couldn’t stop for a photo.

A roadrunner skittering along the outside of the fence.  There are now many lizards in the yard, a few zebra-tailed lizards recently (this photo from Wikipedia), so I was surprised he didn’t want to venture in.  Maybe the 18″ of chicken wire wrapped around the base of the wrought iron fence deterred him, although he could have jumped over.

A hawk sitting on a power line, watching the traffic on La Cholla go by.  Looked like the hawk on the cover of the book I recently finished, H Is For Hawk, by Helen Macdonald.

Equal Pay Day

March 24, 2017

The next Equal Pay Day is Tuesday, April 4, 2017. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.1

I just got this email from the American Association of University Women:

April 4 is Equal Pay Day, and to mark this powerful day of action AAUW is offering a discounted introductory membership rate of just $21, of which $19 is tax deductible.
Right now the pay gap is so wide and closing so slowly that women will have to wait 135 years to receive equal pay. If we don’t step up now, the gender pay gap won’t close until the year 2152! I know you think that’s unacceptable, so please join.

This link has my code for your discount:
https://ww2.aauw.org/national-join/?appealcode=D17CEL1003A

Seen This Month

A woman driving a small silver BMW convertible with the top down, a tiny gold glitter Mickey Mouse cap at the top of its aerial.  It is cool and threatening rain yesterday, but a few days ago, when the weather was in the 90’s, I also saw two other convertibles with their tops down.

Then there was the young man leaving the Y with his two-year-old daughter on his arm, explaining why the car in the parking lot had no roof.  Why doesn’t it have a roof? He replied, So the wind can blow through your hair.

A dove made a typically flimsy nest near my kitchen window.  It laid two eggs and now has two young’uns.

I’ve been here a month and the lizards are just coming back into the yard.  The previous renters had a dog and the lizards have just figured out that the dog’s no longer a threat.

Lambert Lane, my east/west artery, is closed for three months, to widen it from two lanes to four.  But before they closed it, we were driving 25 mph as construction workers played in the dirt on each side, scraping away any plant life, moving dirt, concreting a hillside, and so on.  Was checking out a house right next to the construction – three coyotes were on the steep driveway, checking out something in the lot further on.  Usually when you see three together, it’s a mother and two pups.  These pups were well-grown.

There were a few items in this “new” house that had not been cleaned in a while.  One was the small storage shed.  Found, in addition to all of the screens that had fallen off the windows (’cause they had been velcroed on, and the velco had dried up), three desiccated pack rats, what looked like a mother and her pups.  Plus all of the stuff they had chewed up, along with the droppings.  Yuck!  (No – I did not take a photo, but here is one of my potted flowers, grass, and herbs, very happy to have morning sun.)

STILLNESS

The Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, at the Pima College West Campus, had a showing which ended at the beginning of this month, STILLNESS. Our Contemporary Art Society went to the reception.  I love these descriptions from the Tucson Weekly.  (My photos were just taken with my phone.)

Kate Breakey, an internationally known photographer, lives in the desert outside Tucson. She makes gorgeous photos of desert moons and of the ocean waters of her native Australia, but most often, as she does here, she zeroes in on lifeless animals.

Constantly trying out new media, this time she has used waxy encaustic paint and pencil atop the black-and-white archival digital prints of her new series, Taxonomy of Memory, a wall-full of 34 works. The encaustics add a creamy texture to her views of the desert’s dead… a vermillion flycatcher…  She lays out small corpses that she finds on trails, and makes haunting pictures of them, blowing them up to grand proportions. As she writes, “A thing fills with exactly the radiance you accord it.”

Colin Blakely, newish head of the UA School of Art—he started in 2015—makes his community debut with an elegant suite of landscape photos…  Blakely’s “Yosemite Valley” is after an 1875 oil by Bierstadt, who painted Yosemite over and over. Both painters helped mythologize the monumental landscapes of the new American nation; in their art of the sublime, the grandeur of a thundering waterfall or a soaring western peak suggested the greatness of America.

Blakely contends that these mythical place exist in some ways only in “our collective cultural imagination.” To “disrupt” those familiar landscapes, he switches the medium from classic oils to archival pigment prints spit out by a computer printers. He ratchets up or tones down the color, and even shifts some elements in the compositions.

…a fairytale forest of golden trees.  In this dazzling installation by Sean-Paul Pluguez, no fewer than 100 “trees” are lined up neatly, row on row, planted into low birch platforms. Bending slightly, as real trees do, they curve upward toward an imagined sky, reaching about six feet into the air.

The trees are actually grape stakes, rough wooden posts that normally would be used to hold up grape vines in a vineyard. But they’ve been transformed by glimmering 24-carat gold leaf, painstakingly applied by the artist over the course of a year. The gold catches the light, and it’s thick and textured, dipping into hollows in the stakes or pushing outwards into lines and patterns.

“The Genetically Modified Forest” is a thing of beauty—who can resist the allure of gold?—but it carries a warning. The stakes are sharp and pointed at the top. And as many fairytale heroines have found, all that glitters is not really gold.

As Pluguez notes in an artist statement, the piece “speaks of man’s limited abilities to deal with his own planet.” We may think we can clear-cut our real forests with impunity or that we can dump coal dust into our streams, a practice lately authorized by our new leaders in Washington.

We can’t disobey the laws of nature for long. When we pollute our rivers, we lose our drinking water, and when we ax our trees, we lose their life-giving abilities to filter out carbon dioxide from the air and provide us with oxygen. A pretty fake forest is no substitute for a real one.

Even so, Pluguez’s meditative installation is a paean to the beauty and stillness of the natural world, properly preserved. It’s the anchor for a group show about nature aptly called Stillness; all four of its artists create a sense of calm in works that cover landscape, animals and the human body.2

1https://www.pay-equity.org/day.html
2http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/all-that-glitters/Content?oid=7599592

Weeds

March 18, 2017

My grandson was helping me pull weeds.  But Grandma, these have yellow flowers.  Why do we have to pull them?  The line between weeds and wildflowers is a wavy one, or maybe a dashed one.  Had to kill all of the weeds at my last house, then move into another rental house, 4.7 miles away, only to get a note from the HOA that we have to have all of our weeds pulled by April 1.  No fooling.


But speaking of wildflowers – while the east coast is covered in snow there is a spectacular wildflower display here in the desert wherever the housing developments haven’t scraped the ground and replaced the natural desert with a few trees, cacti, bushes trimmed into tight balls, and lots of gravel.  This photo from the Web of the flowers at Picacho Peak, where my daughter and family are camping for the weekend with the Boy Scouts, there to see the wildflowers and the reenactment of the Civil War battle at Picacho Peak.  (http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/picachopeak.html)  Unfortunately, the hot weather (it’s 92° right now, at 5pm) has also brought out the rattlesnakes, so she texted me that they’re leaving after the roasting of the marshmallows tonight.

Backstory

My life has gotten just a tad busier the beginning of February.

Did dislike the last rental.  January’s gas bill was $148!!!  The insulation was terrible, and, in the winter, it was cold downstairs, with drafts, and hot upstairs.  But good news – hah!  So many things had gone wrong with it (such as the heat going out four times in one year!) that they decided to sell.

My lease was up end of January,  then was on month-to-month, but four families had looked at it in the first week, so I figured I better find another rental as my son-in-law won’t finish his training (to be a hospital CFO) for another year, and when the hospital chain assigns him to a hospital somewhere, if it’s a nifty place, I may move there too, to be near the grandkids.  Another move!  Much harder than finding a place to buy, as rental agents “own” their own properties.  Thank goodness for the internet!

Online, looked at 50 (!) houses near here (which means near my daughter and my grandkids), and chose five.  One zapped me for having a cat, so I looked at four.  Found a smaller, less expensive rental (but with a view of the desert and mountains) west of the last house.  The people were moving out the middle of February, so I started packing, yet again.

Here’s a photo from my bedroom window, after I got all of the windows cleaned.  (Not as good as the professional photo above, but it is 5pm, with its long shadows.)


Was chest high in boxes on that first weekend and I was sore to the bone, double-popping ibuprofen.  In order to get my security deposit back, had to have the empty house clean, including the tops of the fans (ten feet up in the living room), the outdoor lights, garage, you name it.  And no weeds.  (This all in the lease that I had signed.)  Of course, we had had our winter rain, and then the temperatures soared into the 80’s.  Never saw so many weeds.  Too many too small to pull, even with my grandson’s small hands, so I had to resort to the dreaded poison.  (Sorry Mitch!  It was that v. $2200.)  My daughter, having never read Silent Spring, had a poison sprayer canister, which I borrowed.

Final inspection.  A woman came to spend an hour taking photos of everything with cabinets open, lights on. Then she gave the set to the rental agent (the fourth one I’ve had, and never met) and he would decide how much of the security deposit to return in two+ weeks (per contract).  The photographer called me the next day and said that they had just put a check in the mail for the entire security deposit.  Guess I overdid it!

Speaking of rental agents- I mentioned to my present one that the garbage disposal was backing up and she said she’d get back to me. Four days later and no return call to my message left, so I tried it when the dishwasher had filled up the sink, and it magically fixed itself. What a way to get things done…  (There’s an apocryphal story that Napoleon opened his mail about once a month. Why? Because if it was still important after a month, he attended to it; if not, one of his minions had dealt with it, or it was just junk mail.)

Too Much to Protest, Too Little Time

As I was packing, moving, unpacking, etc I was feeling very guilty about not having enough time to protest!  Sure, I had emailed my senators regarding Trump’s appointments, especially of Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos.  (See my blog from January: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/trumps-appointees/)  As if Flake and McCain care about my opinion.  But my rep is Tom O’Halleran, and he’s a Democrat, so no prob.  Next was the protest against Monsanto, which is building a huge greenhouse near here.  https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/monsanto/

Then I sent off an email to my governor because he…

 …defended state laws that let parents use public funds to send children to private and parochial schools.  But he sidestepped questions of whether he would sign legislation to open up that possibility to all 1.1 million public school students statewide.
http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/01/27/ducey-depends-using-public-funds-for-private-schools/

Unfortunately,

Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature are attempting to fast-track a plan to eventually offer vouchers to every public-school student and, in separate legislation, privatize oversight of the public money given to parents to pay private-school tuition and other expenses.

The Legislature is training its sights on the plan to broaden eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a school-choice program created six years ago for disabled children. Under the legislation, all of Arizona’s 1.1 million students would be eligible for the program by 2020.

Sen. Debbie Lesko, of Peoria, and Rep. John Allen, of Scottsdale, have introduced identical bills to expand the program in their chambers, a move intended to expedite passage. ESAs allow families to use public-school dollars on private-school tuition and other educational expenses.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/02/08/republicans-fast-track-school-voucher-bill-arizona-legislature/97572798/

As I had pointed out to my governor, private schools, including Catholic or Christian, are segregated – either by economic inequality (with shades of race discrimination) or by religion.  As Wikipedia points out,

Separation of church and state is a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson and others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Consequently, I believe that it is in our constitution that our taxes should not be used to fund private and parochial schools, and that includes the school tax credit, which comes out of our taxes.  But Arizona is a red state, so it’ll no doubt pass.

Zero to 1.34 Million

You must read Nicholas Kristof’s column from Sunday’s New York Times from a month ago, regarding Trump’s original travel ban:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/11/opinion/sunday/husbands-are-deadlier-than-terrorists.html

People’s Climate Movement April 29th

This was in my Sierra Club magazine:

Michael Brune on the People’s Climate Mobilization, Feb 24 2017

Two years ago, the first People’s Climate March took place on a crisp, blue-sky September day in Manhattan. An estimated 400,000 people, representing the full display of American diversity, were united in the same righteous purpose: to demand that our leaders act fast to address the climate crisis.

The day was filled with promise, and in the following years our enthusiasm was reciprocated with progress. The Paris Agreement. The Clean Power Plan. The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. We could say that, powered by a movement of millions, the United States was truly leading on climate.

Now the political landscape is different. Donald Trump’s election will upend U.S. climate policy. I doubt that many citizens voted for Trump because they were enthusiastic about his views on climate change, but that’s beside the point.

The Trump-Pence administration has no mandate to roll back environmental progress. Polling before the election showed that seven in 10 Americans agreed the government should do something about global warming. Polling after the election showed that 86 percent of voters—including three out of four of those who voted for Trump—support “action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy.”

… we can’t afford to underestimate the Trump administration. Unchecked, Donald Trump and Mike Pence are a threat to our climate and the civil rights and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution. This is a dangerous moment in U.S. history.

…If the Trump-Pence administration attempts to roll back the progress we’ve made in the past 50 years, we do not have to stand for it. Instead, we will stand up against it. We will march, organize, and keep marching—and we will not give up.

The Tucson march:


https://www.evensi.us/tucson-peoples-climate-march-el-presidio-plaza-park/202310124

Everybody knows the good guys lost

November 15, 2016

Leonard Cohen died last week.  Nothing to watch on this, just listen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEQldSi-heE
A friend said that, after he heard of Cohen’s death, he played Hallelujah
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttEMYvpoR-k) the entire day at his office at full volume.  (He and his partner are in a separate building from their receptionist, secretaries, and paralegals, so he only drove his partner crazy.)  These recordings are with Cohen’s younger voice.

Aging

Within the last month my toaster oven broke (which may have belonged to my mother, who died in 2005), my small espresso machine broke (which used to reside at our cabin on Mt. Lemmon when the kids were little, about 25+ years ago), and the frame on my glasses broke (this is the third prescription put in them).  Well, I hope I last longer than my possessions.  Seems ominous.

I also just turned 70.  Had friends and relatives (son! brother! cousins!) visiting for half a week from San Diego, Vancouver, Sonoma, and Denver.  We partied for days and they helped me put on a celebration dinner for 30.  After they returned home, I noticed that my kitchen no longer automatically gets cleaned.  I wake up in the morning and have to face dirty dinner dishes.  Well, that bit of spoiling didn’t last long.

Social Venture Partners – Fast Pitch Tucson 2016

svpWent to a fundraiser last week.

SVP does more than give away money. We amplify the impact of those out to do good in three distinct ways:

  • Connect and engage individuals, helping them make the greatest impact with their philanthropic giving.
  • Fund and strengthen nonprofits, helping them take their vital work for communities to the next level.
  • Invest in collaborative solutions, so those with a common cause can align their efforts and go farther, together.1

astronautFirst, the keynote speaker, Ron Garan, decorated astronaut and social entrepreneur, gave us a great talk, showing us the world through his Orbital Perspective.

Then seven finalists (Fast Pitch Tucson gives free two-month communication skills training … for nonprofits) made three‐minute pitches to a panel of judges and an audience of hundreds of philanthropic, business, civic, and nonprofit leaders, competing to win cash awards.  They started with heart-rending stories.  Two hankies worth.

Awards
$5,000 Tucson Federal Credit Union Tucson Matters Award
$5,000 TEP Power to the People Award + featured in Biz Tucson
$7,500 Cox Charities Award
$7,500 Judges Award
$10,000 SVP Tucson Award

The Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona (not just cookies – leadership development is the core focus of Girl Scouting, offering diverse programs on Science and Technology, Self-Esteem, Career Exploration, Financial Literacy, Environmental Awareness and more) won big, with three prizes. Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson (a community-based nonprofit that assists impoverished single mom families while the moms are pursuing a college education and financial independence) won one.  Children’s Clinics (a non-profit organization, dedicated to delivering family centered, coordinated medical and health services to children and families with complex medical conditions) won the other.

As they won lots of $, I spread my largess elsewhere.  I signed up to volunteer for ICS (Interfaith Community Services) Care Partners.  (Volunteers in the Care Partner Program work together as a team to assist newly discharged patients from health care facilities to assist them with transportation to follow-up appointments, pharmacy, grocery store, etc. )  And I gave a fistful of money to Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona (a non-profit agency dedicated to assisting low income homeowners in Tucson and Pima County) that friend R recommended.

img_6557Desert Museum

Last Friday was Veterans’ Day, a day off from school, so after visiting my father’s grave, my daughter and I took the kids to the Desert Museum.  The Raptor Free Flight is always my favorite.  This is my favorite shot, but my grandsons and I took a few more, sharing my camera and my phone.

 

 

img_6540img_6558

 

Here’s Why We Grieve Today

A friend emailed me this.  I put it last ’cause it’s too depressing.  But read it anyway!

November 9, 2016/ John Pavlovitz

I don’t think you understand us right now. I think you think this is about politics. I think you believe this is all just sour grapes; the crocodile tears of the losing locker room with the scoreboard going against us at the buzzer. I can only tell you that you’re wrong. This is not about losing an election. This isn’t about not winning a contest. This is about two very different ways of seeing the world.

Hillary supporters believe in a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects. Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency. It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings. It was about going high.

Trump supporters believe in a very selective America; one that is largely white and straight and Christian, and the voting verified this. Donald Trump has never made any assertions otherwise. He ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation—and that’s the vision of the world those who voted for him have endorsed.

They have aligned with the wall-builder and the professed p*ssy-grabber, and they have co-signed his body of work, regardless of the reasons they give for their vote: Every horrible thing Donald Trump ever said about women or Muslims or people of color has now been validated. Every profanity-laced press conference and every call to bully protestors and every ignorant diatribe has been endorsed. Every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation Mike Pence has championed has been signed-off on. Half of our country has declared these things acceptable, noble, American.  This is the disconnect and the source of our grief today. It isn’t a political defeat that we’re lamenting, it’s a defeat for Humanity.

We’re not angry that our candidate lost. We’re angry because our candidate’s losing means this country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population, and that’s just the truth. Those who have always felt vulnerable are now left more so. Those whose voices have been silenced will be further quieted. Those who always felt marginalized will be pushed further to the periphery. Those who feared they were seen as inferior now have confirmation in actual percentages. Those things have essentially been campaign promises of Donald Trump, and so many of our fellow citizens have said this is what they want too.

This has never been about politics.

This is not about one candidate over the other.

It’s not about one’s ideas over another’s.

It is not blue vs. red.

It’s not her emails vs. his bad language.

It’s about overt racism and hostility toward minorities.

It’s about religion being weaponized.

It’s about crassness and vulgarity and disregard for women.

It’s about a barricaded, militarized, bully nation.

It’s about an unapologetic, open-faced ugliness.

And it is not only that these things have been ratified by our nation that grieve us; all this hatred, fear, racism, bigotry, and intolerance—it’s knowing that these things have been amen-ed by our neighbors, our families, our friends, those we work with and worship alongside. That is the most horrific thing of all. We now know how close this is. It feels like living in enemy territory being here now, and there’s no way around that.

We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize. We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do.

This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.

This is not about a difference of political opinion, as that’s far too small to mourn over. It’s about a fundamental difference in how we view the worth of all people—not just those who look or talk or think or vote the way we do.

Grief always laments what might have been, the future we were robbed of, the tomorrow that we won’t get to see, and that is what we walk through today. As a nation we had an opportunity to affirm the beauty of our diversity this day, to choose ideas over sound bytes, to let everyone know they had a place at the table, to be the beacon of goodness and decency we imagine that we are—and we said no.

The Scriptures say that weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. We can’t see that dawn coming any time soon.

And this is why we grieve.

1http://www.socialventurepartners.org/tucson/