Archive for the ‘Arizona’ Category

TMA

October 21, 2017

 

Tucson Museum of Art

After a summer of renovation and expansion, TMA reopened to members Friday night, with new galleries, new feature exhibitions, and new selections from the museum’s permanent collection.  And the public are free this weekend!  Because I hadn’t taken my camera Friday night, I went back for two tours today, one, Dress Matters: Clothing as Metaphor, by our curator, Julie Sasse, another, Desert Dweller, by the CEO, Jeremy Mikolajczak, and a guest curator whose name I didn’t get (both shown at left).

The museum looks totally awesome!  You must go.  Here are a few of the pieces I liked.

Wikipedia says that Nick Cave is a… fabric sculptor, dancer, and performance artist… best known for his Soundsuits: wearable fabric sculptures that are bright, whimsical, and other-worldly. He also trained as a dancer with Alvin Ailey.  Can’t imagine him dancing in this Soundsuit – made from fabric, fiberglass and metal, and covered in sequins, it looks very heavy.

A painting of a ballgown, Unfinished Conversations, by Laura Schiff Bean.

 

Bob Carey is the photographer and subject of the “Tutu Project.” This series of stunningly silly videos and still self-portraits was originally launched to cheer up his wife, Linda, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and later went viral. 5

This lithograph, Untitled (Joseph), by Robert Longo [who, according to Wikipedia] became a rising star in the 1980s for his “Men in the Cities” series, which depicted sharply dressed men and women writhing in contorted emotion.  (Unfortunately, I caught glare and/or reflections on most of these photos.)

Barbara Penn, a professor at the University of Arizona, came in to talk of her sculpture, On a Columnar Self, which she had originally done in 1994, but recreated for the show, and how memorials are being much discussed today (as in the Civil War memorials).  Her mother’s wedding dress on the plinth.  She said the eggs represent creativity to her, but could also be (obviously) fertility.

Angela Ellsworthwas raised as a Mormon; some of her work relates to that upbringing, such as the Seer Bonnet XIX24,182 pearl corsage pins, fabric, steel, and wood.  This series of pioneer bonnets represents the wives of Joseph Smith – this one is ascribed to Flora Ann.

Had to add this photo of Julie talking as I loved the outfit of the woman in pink lavender.

This gorgeous video by Sama Alshaibi – Wasl (Union) deals with climate change and is part of Silsila, a multi-media project depicting Alshaibi’s seven-year cyclic journey through the significant deserts and endangered water sources of the Middle East and North African… Silsila

WordPress has started limiting the amount and size of photos that I put in my blogs (it is free…), so I have to stop here and add more TMA photos to another blog.  On to other topics:

Republicans

First, Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, gives his staff outrageous raises:

Ducey’s PR guy, Daniel Scarpinato… has scored 14 percent in pay raises since Ducey took office in 2015, bringing his salary to $162,000.
…Registrar of Contractors Director Jeff Fleetham, a campaign contributor… snagged a nearly 13 percent raise to $115,000.
…Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay, whose 33 percent raise has boosted his pay to $215,250. Or Corrections Director Charles Ryan, whose 10 percent raise brought him to $185,000.
[and] …a long-time pal he promoted from assistant director to deputy director of the Department of Administration… Kevin Donnellan scored a 41 percent pay raise, boosting his salary to $161,200. That’s not counting bonuses of $4,836 over the past two years.1

Then he gives teachers only  1%:

…he proposed a four-tenths of 1 percent pay raise for teachers – though ultimately he was pressured to boost the raise to 1 percent.1

When they protested…

Ducey’s office… stated that those receiving raises had assumed additional responsibilities, and the governor has shrunk state government by shedding 978 employees…  The Republic found at least 1,700 state workers had been fired since Ducey took office, with the largest number from DES.

The majority of those fired across the state were over age 40. Older employees are more expensive to the state payroll because they typically have higher wages, cost more to insure, and their pension contributions are higher. Numerous fired workers told The Republic that Ducey appointees also targeted women, minorities, those with disabilities, gays and lesbians.2

The Church

This was on the news the other day:

ROME – A Vatican trial over $500,000 in donations to the pope’s pediatric hospital that were diverted to renovate a cardinal’s penthouse is reaching its conclusion, with neither the cardinal who benefited nor the contractor who was apparently paid twice for the work facing trial.

Instead, the former president of the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital and his ex-treasurer are accused of misappropriating 422,000 euros from the hospital’s fundraising foundation to overhaul the retirement home of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State. vatican/2017/10/14/

So I wondered if the guys in charge of Wells Fargo’s misfeasance went to jail.  But I didn’t even know about their bank fraud ring:

An Inglewood man convicted of running a bank fraud ring that pilfered more than half a million dollars from Wells Fargo bank and its customers was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison Thursday.3

Okay – steal $500,000, get seven years in prison.  So shouldn’t that happen to the cardinal and the contractor (who maybe should get 14 years, as he was paid twice)?  But no, I was thinking of the Wells Fargo employees who secretly opened 565,443 credit card accounts without their customers’ knowledge or consent.  Nope, nobody went to jail.  Not only that, but:

…it does not appear that Wells Fargo is requiring its former consumer banking chief Carrie Tolstedt…[who] was in charge of the unit where Wells Fargo employees opened more than 2 million largely unauthorized customer accounts… to give back any of her nine-figure pay… $124.6 million.

Wells Fargo… agreed to pay $185 million… to settle claims that that it defrauded its customers… The bank also said it had fired 5,300 employees over five years related to the bad behavior.4

More pleasant predators

The roadrunner has taken over my yard, and peered at me eating lunch.  And I caught a photo of the Cooper’s hawk at the birdbath.

1http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2017/10/17/ducey-tosses-peanuts-teachers-while-throwing-banquet-his-staff/773475001/
2http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/2017/10/20/teachers-union-fight-20-percent-raises-just-like-gov-ducey-gave-staff-friends/782488001/
3http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-wells-fraud-sentencing-20170112-story.html
4 http://fortune.com/2016/09/12/wells-fargo-cfpb-carrie-tolstedt/
5Tutu Project

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Acts of God

October 14, 2017

Hurricanes, Fires

Well, your insurance says Act of God, but I think it’s more Devilish.  We start investigating Trump’s ties to Russia, and what happens?  Four category 4 and 5 hurricanes hit the US.  Harvey hit the east coast of Texas – you no doubt have seen photos of Houston inundated.  Then Irma hit Florida and the Caribbean.  Jose grazed the east coast.  Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, which is better now that they have some paper towels.  The US Virgin Islands also got flattened.


Now the West in on fire.  Santa Rosa, in California, is still on fire.

Several thousand more people were ordered Saturday to evacuate from… Santa Rosa as a new wildfire threatened the area, six days after deadly blazes started to devastate the region.  cnn.com/2017/10/14/

Here is a photo of Coffey Park, 10 minutes to the west of the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa where my brother volunteers. (This is the last posting I did of it, with photos of the mews and my brother, D, with hawks: cazadero.)  This account from him:

The Bird Rescue Center was untouched, in spite of being surrounded by neighborhoods that were devastated. The 18 resident raptors and also the wild birds in rehab were evacuated in about 45 minutes by the quick actions of experienced volunteers — the residents were taken primarily in boxes designed for birds of their size used in field rescue. Once at the volunteer’s home where they are currently residing, we transferred most of them to larger vet cages and dog and cat carriers. They also are getting out on the fist and on perches daily — depending on the prevailing winds sometimes outside, or in the house on smoky days. To date, six volunteers have lost homes (most leaving with only the clothes on their backs and pets) — the fires continue to burn, but once we feel that they are under control the birds will be returned to the center.

D was backpacking in the Sierras with his son and didn’t even know of the fires until they got back to “civilization” and cell service.  Also, his wife was ready to evacuate, with the cat carrier at ready, but the fires drove east, not west, so Cazadero lucked out.

Seen two weeks ago

A red-tailed hawk flew out in front of me as I drove through the neighborhood.  I recognize them as my brother painted a watercolor of one for me.

Sixteen bicyclists in that marvelous spandex, zipping down La Cañada.  (The Spanish tilde doesn’t show up on maps, so Siri, or whatever voice talks to you for directions, pronounces it Canada, as the country.)

Two orthodox men walking down the sidewalk.  (They are not allowed to drive on the sabbath.)  I wish I could have stopped to take a photo.  They were stunning, one in white, one in black, with hats and long beards.  This photo is of a Halloween costume, but you get the idea.

My grandson, F, has been doing taekwondo for a few years, and participated in his first regional tournament at their doh-jahng.  It was very crowded, with at least 40 competitors, and the families spread out along the wall, cameras or phones in hand.  All the kids (and a few adults) got trophies, for first, second, third places, and participating.  F (left) got two second places in his age group, one for his routine, and one for sparing.  He did not do the armed sparing (with padded batons).

Seen yesterday

A juvenile Cooper’s hawk landed on my birdbath, three dark bands on its tail, but it took off before I could retrieve the camera.  Could it be the one I’ve seen at my neighbor’s, or maybe they’re a family?  What with the hawk, roadrunner, and bobcats, no wonder I haven’t seen a ground squirrel in months.  Nor many lizards except for the 4″ squirts.

More taekwondo.  This time the end-of-the-season (summer?) wrap-up, with forms, sparing, and new belts, for three dozen participants.  F got a camo (camouflage) belt.  Four of eleven levels:  white, orange, yellow, camo, green, purple, blue, brown, red, red/black, and black, in addition to many levels of black belt.  At least that’s what’s listed for the AKA (American Taekwondo Association taekwondo/belts).  But our Master (I’m not sure of his title) has added half-color belts too, white/orange, and so on.  Also, this next season, the students shall be learning about Self-Esteem.  (Last season it was Respect.)

This ‘n that

September 23, 2017

Last week we laughed because the weather forecasters talked about a cooling trend – in other words, double digits, 97° rather than 104°.  But today it’s absolutely balmy!  Only 85° with 14% humidity.

Worms and Spiders

I’ve had these tiny black striped caterpillars eating my parsley.  Been picking them off to save a few sprigs for myself, and putting them on the “hedge” of my neighbor’s cat’s claw above the wall, thinking they could eat anything green.  Only thought today to look them up.  Turns out they’re also called parsley worms.  Guess why!  Then they turn into pretty black swallowtail butterflies, and I guess I’m not going to have any more, having starved these poor worms.  These photos, and the info, from another blog:

Swallowtail caterpillars… serve as a food source for songbirds and other wildlife. After their metamorphosis into butterflies… one-third of the world’s cultivated crops depend upon the work of pollinators like butterfly and bees. In addition… just watching the whimsical flight of butterflies is enough to lift the spirits!  black-swallowtail-caterpillar

I had also seen inch worms on my basil (and mint and lantana) and had picked them off and deposited them in the cat’s claw.  Today more holes in the leaves but only a tiny yellowish white spider.  It couldn’t be eating the cutworms.

What if you can’t see any worms eating the… plant? The culprit might still be mint plant worms – cutworms to be exact. Cutworms are nocturnal feeders and then post feast, hiding in the soil during the day at the plant’s base or in its debris.  edible/herbs

And speaking of spiders, I have a number of pretty 1½- to 2-inch black and yellow garden spiders on my tomato plants and bougainvillea (this photo from Orkin, which, unfortunately, sells you chemicals to kill all bugs) but none of them have done the zippers on their orb webs I’ve seen before.  I just work around them; love having them eat the tiny insects.

Vegetable Garden

After spending half a day raking out two inches of gravel, which I guess the owner considers landscaping, dug my compost into another two feet of space for the vegetable garden, having found another section of soaker hose.  Planted seeds for a few butterfly bushes, broccoli and cauliflower plants, carrots, radishes, and nasturtiums.  A month too early for arugula.

Am still harvesting about a pint of cherry tomatoes a week, and made ratatouille twice, first from three Japanese eggplants, next from three small, round eggplants (Black Beauty).  The tomato bushes (Super Sweet 100) are so huge, had to buy a tomato tower to support one of them, which I had originally only planted with a tiny cage.  Tried a recipe for baked cherry tomatoes, and it made them way too sweet!  Slathered it on goat cheese sandwiches.

Lizards

After the bobcat and roadrunner appearances in my yard, have not seen any large collared lizards around, they’re being more cautious, just tiny ones doing pushups.  Googled that, even though I knew the answer, and got this cute column from the Tucson Weekly a number of years ago.  You must read it!  why-lizards-do-push-ups-and-other-tucson-wildlife-tidbits-you-need-to-know-before-you-die

The English Monarchy

Reading commentary in last Sunday’s New York Times about my cousin, Tony Blair, The Boys of Brexit:

Did Blair ever think he would see a time when the royal family would keep calm and carry on as the queen’s grandson moved toward marrying an American TV actress who is divorced and half black?

Huh?  I don’t follow the Monarchy (except to watch Netflix’s series The Crown and the 2006 movie The Queen, with Helen Mirren, about the royal debacle after Diana died), so had to look up which grandson was marrying an American.  Turns out red-headed Prince Harry is “dating” a divorced American actress, Meghan Markle, Jewish, half-black, and four years older that he is (36, 32).  And it appears that she has moved into his “cottage”, at Kensington Palace.  Nottingham Cottage is not a Thomas Kinkade cottage (gag), but small.  (Photo of the couple from Getty Images.)

Loved this detail of Kensington Palace from the U.K.’s Daily Mail.  You can click on it to make it larger.  Price Harry’s arrow is third down on the left.  According to Hello Magazine,

Harry’s new digs have been dubbed “the royal bedsit” due to the one-bedroom apartment’s modest facilities, which include a small living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Equifax

Another article in the Times, Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings.  Thought I ought to see if I was caught in the web.  equifaxsecurity2017.com  According to the NPR news, you click on Am I Impacted? and get another page.

  1. Click the button above, “Am I Impacted?,” and provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.  [And prove you’re not a robot.]
  2. Based on that information, you will receive a message indicating whether your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
  3. Regardless of whether your information may have been impacted, we will provide you the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier. After checking if you were impacted you will see an option to enroll. The enrollment period ends on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.

I did so and got:

Thank You
Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
Click the button below to continue your enrollment in TrustedID Premier.

Darn.  But  was so gratified to know that:

Equifax paid $3.8 million in restitution to customers, a fine of $2.5 million and $200,000 in legal costs.

However,

Richard F. Smith, the chief executive and chairman of the Equifax board… received $15 million in total compensation in 2016, up from $13 million in 2015.

John Gamble, Equifax’s chief financial officer… received $3.1 million in 2016.

John J. Kelley III, the company’s chief legal officer… received $2.8 million in compensation last year.

Gee, that’s fair.  Read the article to see why they pulled in the big bucks.  Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings

More Stuff…

September 18, 2017

One of my San Diego friends, knowing that I had just read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and another of Marie Kondo’s books, Joy1, gave me a copy of The Story of Stuff, by Annie Leonard.  The subtitle (it seems you need subtitles nowadays – Tidying Up has The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing) is The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better.  It is way depressing.  A snippet:

In the 1950’s, the chairman of President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors stated, “The American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.”  Really?  Rather than to provide health care, safe communities, solid education for our youngsters, or a good quality of life…

So I wouldn’t recommend that you read the book, unless you’re up for a downer.  However, she has made a 20-minute online movie, which (very quickly) summarizes the book, and I do recommend that you watch it (just click here): story-of-stuff. The only thing that bothers me about the movie is that she is too perky about a depressing subject (as opposed to Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth).

And speaking of Stuff:

DETROIT — A gun was pulled after two pairs of women fought over the last notebook on a shelf at a Walmart in Michigan this week, according to police.2  (Photo from  © James Dingeldey Video footage of a woman pulling out a gun at a Walmart in Novi.)

A notebook.  Really.

The other book I’m reading now is A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold.  Lovely charcoal drawings throughout by Charles Schwartz.

Admired by an ever-growing number of readers and imitated by hundreds of writers, A Sand County Almanac serves as one of the cornerstones of modern conservation science, policy, and ethics. First published by Oxford University Press in 1949, it has become a conservation classic.3

It is depressing in a different way.  He poetically describes all that he sees, but also writes about all of the animals and plants that have been eliminated from our planet due to “progress.”  However, he isn’t strident about it.  He killed many of the animals for his own meals, but the tree that he cut up for firewood had been downed by a lightning strike.  It is quietly sad.

On April nights when it has become warm enough to sit outdoors, we love to listen to the proceedings of the convention in the marsh.  There are long periods of silence when one hears only the winnowing of snipe, the hoot of a distant owl, or the nasal clucking of some amorous coot.  Then, of a sudden, a strident honk resounds, and in an instant pandemonium echoes. There is a beating of pinions on water, a rushing of dark prows propelled by churning paddles, and a general shouting by the onlookers of a vehement controversy.  Finally some deep honker has his last word, and the noise subsides to that half-audible small-talk that seldom ceases among geese…

It is a kind providence that has withheld a sense of of history from the thousands of species of plants and animals that have exterminated each other to build the present world. The same kind providence now withholds it from us. Few grieved when the last buffalo left Wisconsin, and few will grieve when the last Silphium follows him to the lush prairies of the never-never land.

These animals have not been eliminated by Oro Valley yet:


Bobcat

First time I’ve seen one in this yard.  Was working at the computer when I saw it, ran for the camera in the bedroom and got these shots from there.  Probably should have knocked on the window so it looked at me.  The third photo is it on top of the wall before it jumped into the neighbor’s yard.  I also grabbed my cat and put her on her stool so she could see it too.  Explained to her that was why she wasn’t going out any more.  She was very attentive.  (I mentioned the bobcat to my neighbor, so she’d watch out for her small dog.  She said the couple in this rental before me had a small dog.  One night they let it out, and never saw it again.  So it could have been the bobcat.)

Roadrunner

First time I’ve seen one of these in this yard too.  (This taken from the family room.)

Doves

Each evening seven mourning doves sit on my back fence.  Tightly knit family?

Towhee

An Albert’s towhee has been attacking my office window for the past three days.  This is the wrong season.  They typically attack their reflections in the spring, competing for mates.  Also, usually brightly colored birds do it, as they can more easily see their reflections.  Three houses ago there was a male cardinal who would attack the office window.  Was afraid he’d hurt himself, but a website said no.

Catalina Mountains

Of course, another photo of these gorgeous mountains.

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/stuff/
2gun-pulled-in-fight-between-back-to-school-shoppers
3https://www.aldoleopold.org/about/aldo-leopold/sand-county-almanac/

August in San Diego continued

August 30, 2017

Los Angeles

A continuation of art at the Broad Museum:

(We missed Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display. This experiential artwork has extremely limited capacity, accommodating one visitor at a time for about a minute, and requires a separate free timed same-day reservation which ticket holders are able to reserve, pending availability, after arrival at the museum at a kiosk in the center of the lobby, as we hadn’t figured that out when we first got in.  L said it’s coming to the San Diego Art Museum in November, so she’ll try to get tickets for it.)

A room of Jeff Koons, well known for his balloon dogs and other balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror-finish surfaces, but years ago (1988) he did Buster Keaton of polychromed wood and others of its ilk.  This about Rabbit:

In 1979 Jeff Koons made Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny), the seed for so much of his future work… Seven years later, Koons… created Rabbit. The switch from the word “bunny” to “rabbit” is intriguing. Bunny is cute and floppy; rabbit is quick and sharp. The carrot in the rabbit’s paw is wielded like a weapon, and the once soft, leaky, and cheap vinyl shell of the bunny has been replaced by armorlike, costly stainless steel, which reflects everything surrounding Rabbit and deflects any allusions to the sculpture’s interior.

(Dorothy Cargill, who just passed away, at 86, in April of this year, the millionairess who gave our art group a tour of her Palm Springs home back in 2014 – I never finished those blogs – donated a larger balloon dog to the Palm Springs Art Museum, so “Jeff” made her a small one with a radio in it.)

I liked Forward Retreat by Mark Tansey.

Forward Retreat, 1986, describes the slipperiness of perception and questions the validity of innovation in art. The central image of horseback riders is painted as a reflection on water. The riders, all outfitted in uniforms of Western powers (American, French, German, and British), represent the nationalities of artists who came to dominate twentieth-century art history. They are seated backward on their horses, focused on a distant receding horizon, and are oblivious to the fact that their steeds trample on the crushed ruins of myriad pottery and objets d’art. With typically dry humor, Tansey implies two conclusions: that art progresses on the ruins of its past and that art making is propelled in part by unconscious forces.

Robert Therrien‘s Under the Table:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland…  The table, at nearly ten feet tall, exudes an extraordinary presence.  One is compelled to walk underneath it…

 

 

Here a photo of another visitor.  Loved his diaphanous skirt, jacket with the skull, and fuchsia topknot, fitting nicely with Marakami’s work.

 

 

 

 

A few of Takashi Murakami‘s huge (pronounce that in Trump’s voice, without the “h”) paintings.  These were my two favorites, My arms and legs rot off and though my blood rushes forth, the tranquility of my heart shall be prized above all (Red blood, black blood, blood that is not blood), acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board, although the ceiling reflection takes away from the blackness, and this one that I couldn’t get an entire photo of, as it wrapped around the room:

Takashi Murakami’s massive eighty-two-foot-long painting, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, reflects on the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Murakami discovered that roughly 150 years earlier, after the great Ansei Edo earthquake of 1855, artist Kano Kazunobu had created a large grouping of monumental scrolls conjuring the five hundred arhats, the traditional stewards of Buddha’s teaching. Murakami, through the post–World War II lens of Japan’s pervasive pop culture, again revived the arhats. In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow portrays a cartoonish, spiritual landscape, awash in an enormous tsunami of churning water. The work is a specific reference to a Japanese history of natural disasters and an attempt to place suffering into a visual language.


John Ahearn‘s Raymond and Toby.

John Ahearn has worked closely with his subjects, making life casts of people in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York City… often making molds of people directly in plaster and casting them [this one in fiberglass]… Many subjects enact the roles that fill most of our lives — grocery shopping, walking a dog, getting children ready for school — and, subsequently, the sculptures are not only recognizable but joyful in their celebration of life.

I’d seen another of Kara Walker‘s cutouts at the Venice Biennale.

In African’t, [her] cutouts are nearly life size, becoming a theater of remembrance and forgetting.  Here, blacks and whites, men, women, and children, all participate in pre-Civil War scenes of degradation, sex and violence…

There were two of Shirin Neshat‘s videos.  (She has been exiled from Iran.)  Here are some shots from one of them.  Not much sound other than the wind and the women’s ululations.

Shirin Neshat’s Rapture shows a divided world where architecture and landscape stand as metaphors for entrenched cultural beliefs about men and women. The men are trapped in a fortress while the women make a long journey through the desert to the sea. While the men wrestle and pray, the women eventually board small boats to leave the land entirely. As with Possessed, Rapture’s poetic potential taps into the collective dreams, fantasies, and horrors confronting the Iranian people.

Cy Twombly‘s Nini’s Painting (Rome).  Think my color’s off; don’t remember the green, but looked online and saw it in five different shades.

Nini’s Painting (Rome)… is part of a series of monumental works completed by Twombly in the early 1970s that, according to some critics, were inspired by both a trip to a Jackson Pollock retrospective and the themes of repetition emerging in minimalist art.

 

Edward Ruscha‘s Desire.  He came into prominence during the 1960s pop art movement.  I liked this one.

John, by Chuck Close.  (Put L in the photo so you could see the monumentality of the painting.)

John, one of Close’s earliest paintings, is described as photo-realist…  instead of using mechanical means to transfer his images onto canvas, Close works entirely from sight to achieve the intensely animate detail…

Back to Tucson

Returned home Saturday afternoon.  The high for the day had been 108° and the humidity was 57% (not a dry heat!) as it had just rained.  Blowover from Hurricane Harvey.  A newscaster was interviewing someone in Texas whose house had just flooded for the third time in two years.  (Photo from CNN.)  I had just ranted about that in my last blog!  The feds should buy the house, tear it down, and make the land into a park.  And get rid of flood insurance!  Then I was thinking that all of the news had been about the amount of water (50″!!!) and the rescue of people, nothing about all of the oil refineries down there.  But on NPR this morning it was said that one million pounds of pollutants would be released around Houston:

On Sunday, Houston-area resident Stephanie Thomas told Houston Press “something powerful” hit her nostrils, describing the smell “like burnt rubber with a hint of something metallic thrown in.”

The La Porte Office of Emergency Management identified the chemical as anhydrous hydrogen chloride, a colorless gas that turns into a white mist of hydrochloric acid when exposed to moisture in the air. A Dow Chemical safety sheet warns that eye or skin contact causes severe burns, and that inhaling the fumes can be fatal.

Air Alliance Houston estimates that the area’s petrochemical plants will release more than 1 million pounds of air pollution as a result of Harvey…

(In April of this year, a federal judge ordered Exxon Mobil to pay $20 million in fines because the Baytown complex illegally spewed 8 million pounds of hazardous chemicals over a five year period.)  houston-refinery-toxic-pollution

That fits nicely with Trump’s pushing for the Keystone pipeline, and at the end of March:

..the State Department granted the pipeline giant TransCanada a permit for Keystone construction…

…it would connect with existing pipelines to deliver the sludgy oil to refineries in Texas and Louisiana for processing. Most of the refined product would probably be exported…  keystone-oil-pipeline

On a positive note, my plants having been loving all of the rain.  A few months ago I started making a daily bouquet for the shelf above my desk.  The flowers on the bougainvillea, Mexican petunia, and red bird of paradise last only one day, but there are so many of them that I can have fresh flowers daily.  (The woman who does the flower arrangements for our art group’s monthly art-viewing-with-wine-and-hors d’oeuvres did one with bougainvillea, giving me the idea.)  This arrangement of chive blooms (white), Mexican petunia (lavender), and red bird.  Yes, the chive flowers are a bit odoriferous, so I added some mint flowers (lavender) which don’t really show up here, but somewhat ameliorate the scent.

But all of my second round of tomatoes are still green, and the eggplants aren’t ripe yet.  I had to buy tomatoes at the grocery store!  As my daughter often texts me: #firstworldproblems  Like when the irrigation guys took a week to show up to fix a spouter on my drip system, which had to be turned off, so I had to water the garden by hand!  #firstworldproblems  Or the handle on the 20-year-old microwave broke off, and I had to wait two weeks for a new microwave.  (This is a rental, and the microwave was so old you couldn’t get parts any more.)  #firstworldproblems

Yes, I’m one of the spoiled Americans.  You probably are too.

Are You in the Top One Percent of the World?  According to the Global Rich List… an income of $32,400 a year will allow you to make the cut.  one-percent-world

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.