Archive for the ‘Arizona’ Category

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 joke.


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

Peoples 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/

A Chimp

September 19, 2016

SYDNEY, NSW - JULY 14: A Chimpanzee jumps at a glass screen as primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall holds a press conference at Taronga Zoo July 14, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. Dr Goodall visited the zoo to raise awareness of the plight of wild Chimpanzees. The zoo's colony of Chimps includes several family groups, and three of the oldest Chimpanzees in zoos. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)Dr. Jane Goodall held a press conference at Taronga Zoo July 14, 2006 in Sydney, Australia.  (This was on NPR today.  Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s antics remind famed anthropologist Jane Goodall of the primates she spent decades studying in the wild.

“In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” Goodall told The Atlantic. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks.”

Goodall added, “the more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”

the-donaldA friend of mine had posted this on her Facebook page:

 

Entomologando

A friend of mine posted this video on her Facebook page. What a great website!bug
https://www.facebook.com/entomologando/videos/1363242347038096/

Reminds me of a U of A Humanities Seminars class I took entitled What’s Bugging You: Insects and Culture.1

Oro Valley

My brother shall be visiting and he’s flying into the Phoenix airport. I was looking for a possible van to bring him here, and on tripadvisor.com found this question:

I am actually staying in PHX, but may make it to Oro Valley to purchase something. Is it an Indian Reservation?

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/entomophagy/

Labor Day 2016

September 11, 2016

My daughter’s family and I were going to have a picnic on the back of Mt. Lemmon, at the Peppersauce Canyon picnic grounds.  The elevation is 4,000 feet, so this northeastern corner of the Santa Catalina greenMountains is definitely an escape from 100-degree heat, even without the forest. Beautiful sycamore trees (18 feet and more in circumference and up to 40 feet tall!1) there, with lots of shade.

But my youngest grandson was sick (germs from the jumping castle at the birthday party he went to yesterday?), with grey circles under his eyes, so he slept all day, we had our picnic lunch inside at my daughter’s, as the high was 102°, then spent the day in the pool, peppersauce-entrancealthough the water was “chilly” (below 80°).

When my children were young,  we went to Peppersauce Cave, a mile and a half up the road from the camp. It is just upstream from a stone bridge and has its own dramatic appeal1. The cave is not lovely, like Colossal Cave, which is beautiful.  (I would highly recommend it.)  You have to crawl through a small opening (photo from the Net, with opening circled in red), and the cave is pitch black, and muddy.  No marvelous looking stalactites and stalagmites, just mud and rooms to explore.  The kids loved it, but we had to have a change of clothes to get back into the car afterwards.

Next Day

Hurricane Newton was supposed to sweep up from Mexico with 75 mph winds and two months of rain in hours.  Not a drop.  But dark clouds billowed in from the west, covered the sky, and ate the mountains.  Nothing past the flat landscape of low trees but grey.  If it had been green you’d have thought that a movie was being made and the background hadn’t been added in yet.  Then a cliff poked out from the clouds and you realized, the mountains are BIG!

The view cut off reminded me of staying in an apartment my brother had rented in San Francisco, before he had a wife and kids.  It was on the second floor, and the windows looked out to a ventilation shaft, with facing windows about six feet away; most rain didn’t even penetrate.  You had no idea what the weather was like (this way before cell phones), and SF’s weather varies greatly from day to day.  So I had to run downstairs and out the front door to see if the sun were shining or if it was cold.

Day After That

Early morning (4 am?) I woke to the light patter of rain on the skylights.  Most of the day there was a mist we used to call Hawaiian mist (in Hawaii), or light rain, more like Michigan than our summer monsoons.  Good for our plants, which need daily watering in our hot, hot, hot weather, but not lasting in the sand this housing development is built upon.  (If I had been planting the garden, I’d have dug huge holes in the sand and filled them with topsoil before planting.)

My Desert

Antelope-squirrelA chipmunk in my yard this morning, but we call them Harris’s antelope squirrels.  Rarely see one in Tucson.  He was cornered (and really cute), so I had to herd him out under the gate (which may be how he got in).  I, of course, didn’t think first to grab my camera.  The photo and this from the Desert Museum’s web site2:

  • It is not unusual to see these squirrels in a plant such as barrel cactus eating the fruit. It is not know how they avoid the sharp spines of the cactus.
  • These squirrels practice what is known as “heat dumping“. When their body temperature reaches its upper limits they will get into a cool shady spot and lay down spread-eagle with their belly pressed against the cool ground. This releases the heat from its body to help cool the animal down.

1http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue/2007/07/16/57157-it-s-cool-shady-in-peppersauce-canyon/
2https://www.desertmuseum.org/kids/oz/long-fact-sheets/Harris’s%20Antelope%20ground%20Squirrel.php

2 September 2016

September 2, 2016

LOL

Recent obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68…

(I verified it: http://www.snopes.com/obituary-trump-clinton/.  It also mentioned  the obituary for Katherine Michael Hinds said that “in lieu of flowers, do not vote for Donald Trump.”)

My Desert

Two days ago we had a terrific storm, lots of rain and wind.  ‘Course, this lasted maybe 20 or 30 minutes, but knocked out two of the stoplights on Oracle.  However, when I got to the college, no storm.  (When the weather person says 30% chance of rain, I figure that 30% of the city shall get rain.)

Yesterday there were myriads of clouds north of here, and two partial rainbows, one over the Catalinas, another among the clouds, which would make it hard to find that pot of gold, unless you’re a skydiver.  Unfortunately, no rain hit here.  But it was “cool” – 94°, until you read the small print – feels like 105°.  The humidity keeps your skin from feeling that every droplet of moisture is being sucked from it, but we Tucsonians aren’t used to sweating…

This morning I saw one rabbit, a few quail, some doves, and goldfinches on the birdfeeder as I had filled it again with Niger thistle seeds.  Plus a loud squawk, almost like a duck.  It was a raven on the neighbor’s roof.  (Nice video of a raven’s call, if you can get past the annoying commercial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDv_PlrBg14.)  The right side of the screen advertised a video on the difference between crows and ravens, and it was interesting too.  (My cat watched it for a few minutes, attracted to the bird “song”.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9-wTnqIidY.)

Many years ago I had taken a (motorized) raft trip down the Grand Canyon.  Each day, for lunch, we would stop at a sandbar, guarded by a pair of ravens (who are believed to mate for life).  We made our own sandwiches, sans plates or paper napkins, and balanced the potato chips on top.  I believe that the soda or beer, which had stayed cold by being kept in a mesh bag, dragged behind the raft as water temperatures in the Colorado River average 50° year round, was in recyclable cans.  We returned the cans at the end of our lunch.  After we had boarded our rafts to continue our adventure, even before we pulled away, the ravens descended upon the sandbar to find any crumbs that we might have dropped.  Obviously, the sandbars were immaculate.  Each sandbar was “owned” by a pair of these intelligent birds, although not a one voiced Nevermore.

Last week, still August, PetSmart had their Halloween costumes out.  (Yes, costumes for your dog or cat.)  I really do dislike the holiday creep.

Insomnia 

Having trouble getting to sleep at night? I have a new sedative that a friend recommended: Middlemarch, by George Eliot.  A page and a half and I’m out.

Spike Jonze

A friend had posted this on her Facebook page:
http://nofilmschool.com/2016/08/watch-spike-jonze-kenzo-commercial and my brother mentioned: Spike Jonze is kind of well known for his ‘musicals’ — check out his Bjork video from the 90’s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEC4nZ-yga8&list=PLH3U5LaE2-0YETfe5BFkOeZCcfZeeWy-9.  Enjoy.

The Oro Valley Desert & Readings

August 27, 2016

The Desert

I loved to watch the wildlife at my last house – the deer, raccoon, javelinas, bobcats, rabbits (cottontail and jackrabbit), and all of the birds (especially the roadrunners and hawks).

There is a hill of desert behind the house I’m renting.  Because it is separated from the rest of the desert, typical of developers, (unless a creature, scarab_beetleusually a coyote, dares to cross the ring road around the subdivision), I can see only a few rabbits, cactus wrens (in the prickly pear, eating not the fruit, but the bugs after the fruit), doves, quail, and goldfinches.  And ants – lots of ants.  Also, recently the beautiful emerald green scarab beetles (also, according to Wikipedia, known as the figeater beetle, whose habitat is primarily the southwestern United States and Mexico).  Their photo.

“My” dove (see her photo in this blog: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/pause/) raised one chick and both of them left.  (Not sure if there was a father around – sometimes the nest was not being tended.)  Lazy, I didn’t get rid of the nest on the back patio beam.  A week later, the dove returned, laid one more egg, and raised one more chick.  They are gone now.  Reminds me of friends who had one daughter.  When she went off to college, being empty nesters, they thought it was the right moment for the second child. As she said: One morning woke up and realized it is now or never and voila!  (Kids are 18 years apart.)

Our monsoon rains have brought out flowers on the barrel cactus and many fruit on the prickly pear cactus (called tuna in Spanish).

IMG_6493 IMG_6495

IMG_6502[1]Here is a photo of insect eggs, yellow and gold, laid neatly in lines on my bedroom window.  (Okay, I didn’t work hard enough to get their color – it was too bright outside.)  Each is approximately 2mm long.  I googled insect eggs and found no match, but all of these gorgeous others.

insect-eggs-2insect-eggs-1

insect-eggs-3insect-eggs-5 insect-eggs-4

Reading

Just read The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty.  In 1972 it won her a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was a nice novel, but I didn’t think that it came up to the quality of The Orphan Master’s Son, Olive Kitteridge, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, or other winners that I have read.  (But 1972 was when Marcus Welby, M.D, and My Three Sons were popular on TV.)

I am presently reading The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain. Bill Bryson married an English woman and now resides there and writes.  This book is a walking tour through Britain (with humour  and many snarky remarks).  I last visited the British Isles, approximately 25 years ago, when my children were young.  For the month-long vacation I had rented four cottages, two in England, one in Wales, one in Scotland (to see Blair Castle, but that’s another story), each for one week.  I remember being surprised that there was a footpath going right past the front garden of our Welsh cottage.  That’s when I learned that Britain has 140,000 miles of footpaths all across the island. 

Can’t imagine our Agro-Giants allowing people to walk through their crops in the US.  Plus, I checked, and Britain is about 57% the size of California.  I googled people who have walked across the United States, and there have been 19 recorded from 1896 to 2015.  A few more have bicycled; a young woman who I worked with in FEMA did it.  She had a hard time getting in enough training beforehand as we were working 60-hour weeks after Hurricane Katrina, and the storm had decimated most of the roads.  Also, my nephew rode across country back in his college days.  If I know two people who have done it, there must be hundreds.

But the walking tour brought to mind the walk a friend had taken with another, from Tucson to Nogales, approximately 70 miles (back when we were all younger).  Unfortunately, most of the way they walked next to a highway, breathing in the particulate matter and many noxious gases.  Their wives met them in Nogales for dinner.  (Google said that it should take 23 hours, 45 minutes for that walk, but I think they did it in half of that time.)  Believe that was the end of his long treks.

 

Backstory

June 6, 2016

A number of friends have asked why I stopped blogging.  I don’t want to go into it in a lot of detail, but I stopped when I got valley fever last summer and was spending all of my not-working hours sleeping. (That was also when my daughter and her family moved back to Tucson, so I had gone house-hunting with them.) That lasted three months.

Also, in the fall, in addition to teaching a writing class, I was taking a 3D computer aided drafting (CAD) class in preparation for teaching it in the spring. The full-time instructor would be taking the semester off to have a baby. Problem was, I had only taken one class in it (Revit) previously, and had never used it for work. The head of the CAD department said that I’d be fine if I took the refresher course. Hardest class I’d ever had, except for the class in lost wax (see previous blogs starting with                                             https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/tucson-festival-of-books-2014/.) Way time consuming.

Then, in the spring, it seemed that I was using all waking hours in which I was not tending grandchildren preparing for or teaching the class. (Yes, I did fine.)  To further complicate my life, in January I sold my house, and had to have fixed a list of items that the inspector deemed necessary, such as repairing the roof.  (I balked at mold remediation in the garage wall – it was a garage – and my realtor ate that one.)

In addition, I had to find a rental to move into. That was not an easy prospect, as rental agents “own” their own properties. I ended up searching the internet myself, and after looking at various apartments and condominiums with no yards, or back walls four feet from the back sliding door, I contacted a myriad of agents to find a rental house.  My daughter asked that I move closer to her, in Oro Valley, and I finally found a tacky builder house (looks like all the rest on the block), split level, about 12 minutes away. (I had been 45 minutes away previously.)  Too many rooms,  all too small.

Next came the move itself. I did a lot of culling, but still have more than I had in South Carolina. Hired movers.  They broke a few items, but my daughter and son-in-law couldn’t have managed my large furniture. Compromised as to what went where as the stairs were too narrow for my couches, bookshelf.  Finally had to unpack, hang artwork, decide in which small closet to store nostalgic items that I should get rid of. (Have “lost ” some pieces.)

In the next blog I’ll skip this past year and get right into my vacation.

TMA Artisans Market

November 21, 2015

If you brave driving through the Tour de Tucson bicyclists to visit the Tucson Museum of Art’s Artisans Market (November 20-22, 10-5), stop by booth #102 to peruse my neighbors’ wares – absolutely gorgeous cutting boards and knitting.

Valley Fever in the News

5648109fd7ba0.image

http://tucson.com/news/science/health-med-fit/cases-of-valley-fever-up-percent-through-october/article_36f17bc8-2cc2-558a-9612-5121aa2e3ad1.html

Pause from Politics

June 30, 2015

OK, a few notes on Tucson’s weather and wildlife.

The monsoons started a few days ago.  No deluge at my house, but, being able to see the whole basin that is Tucson, surrounded by mountains, I could see rain in the northeast corner of town at one point, the northwest corner at another.  This morning a few sprinkles as I drove to work – not enough for the windshield wipers, but enough to bring the humidity up to 57%, such a nice contrast to the desert sun baking all of the moisture out of one’s body.   Even though I am now visibly sweating when outside, veggie garden 006the cloud cover keeps the temperature down, and the sun at bay.  (It still is supposed to reach 102° today.)  The humidity has encouraged the native whitethorn acacia to produce its little yellow balls, which pass for flowers.

This morning a large roadrunner dashed across the yard.  It must have been after a lizard; they often pose for me.  Yesterday a sole javelina peeked around the wall, peering longingly at my vegetable garden when I was in the shower.  The evening before, washing dishes, I enjoyed the site of a deer posing under the mesquite tree.

The cicadas were trilling like crazy when I left work yesterday, but only crickets chirped in my yard.  I noticed that cicadas get louder when you approach – since there are so many of them you can’t find an individual one by noise.  Crickets, by contrast, stop chirping as you move towards them.  I read the description of cicadas in Wikipedia1, and found out that they create their “song” differently than crickets.  (Read up on it if you’re interested.)

garden
Speaking of my vegetable garden, I had a couple of Japanese eggplants and miniature red bells from the garden for dinner last night (barbequed with Italian peppers and red LaSoda potatoes from the CSA).  The green bell pepper and full-sized tomato that are not covered by leaves have sunburn.  The cherry tomatoes are halfway to ripe.  Finished the spinach the other night.  It had bolted.

Because I had planted sage (the culinary herb, not the desert variety, bursage, which is not edible and has nasty burrs) in my vegetable garden this year instead of in my herbal pot on the deck by the kitchen, it is deliriously happy with all of the root room, so I guess I need to deep-fry a bunch of leaves, as I learned in my cooking class it Italy many years ago.

Salvia Fritta ~ Choose large, very fresh leaves for this recipe. Either offer them along with a nice glass of red wine, or use as a garnish for grilled meats or seafood.meats or seafood.meats or seafood.2

This just in (June 30, 5:45 pm): Just as I was pulling into my garage I heard crashes.  Then I saw the hailstones, 1″ in diameter, bouncing into my garage, pelting the front of my house at a 45° angle, and the assault started – I thought they’d break a window!  It was over in 10 minutes, and the hailstones melted fast on the hot driveway.  Luckily my potted plants are in the back of the house, so they didn’t get ripped to shreds.  But the fig vine climbing up veggie garden 010the front of the house, and the agapanthus took it badly.

In the vegetable garden the peppers, eggplant, and sage were close enough to the wall to be sheltered, but my volunteer sunflowers and tomatoes, which I had photographed just hours earlier, were partially shredded, and two sunflower heads and three cherry tomatoes on the ground.

Watching

Because my TV is broken (the cable connection), I watch a lot of DVD’s.

CumberbatchI was watching an old PBS, To the Ends of the Earth, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  I remembered him as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, but forgot the others, so googled.  He is so versatile!  He’s played a good guy, a bad guy, a dragon.  He played Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness3:

Khan in 2259
Gender:           Male
Species:          Human Augment
Affiliation:        Section 31
Rank:              Commander
Occupation:     Agent
Status:            In Stasis (2259)
Born:               mid-20th century
Marital Status:  Single

smaugand of course, Sherlock.  But Smaug!  How could he play Smaug, a dragon from Lord of the Rings.  Googled and found these two great video.  You must see!  (This first is one of many.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1  Then this one is just funny – watch it through to the end (and ignore the annoying commercial at the beginning).  http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/509747/smaug

The captain of the ship in To the Ends of the Earth looked familiar, so I googled Jared Harris.  Ah yes, has been Lane Pryce in Mad Men.

And To the Ends of the Earth was based on William Golding’s trilogy.  He was…

…best known for his novel Lord of the Flies, he won a Nobel Prize in Literature, and was also awarded the Booker Prize for literature in 1980 for his novel Rites of Passage, the first book in what became his sea trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth.

1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicada
2http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2008/11/fried-sage-leaves/
3http://en.memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/John_Harrison