Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Mom’s Day

May 14, 2017

A less stressful (less expensive) brunch this year at Einstein Bagels, followed by a cold swim (kids and polar bears only), then a turkey-burger BBQ dinner.  Note: my 11-year-old granddaughter is taller than I am.

This card is especially funny ’cause my son-in-law bought it for my daughter to give me!

 

 

Seen This Week

A woman checking out books at the library with a triple baby stroller, and three moon-faced, innocent, almost identical babies staring at me.

A male pyrrhuloxia perched on the shelf next to my outdoor table, but I couldn’t take a photo (but you can see one in this blog post: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/the-vegetarian-coyote/) because…  Tuesday afternoon it drizzled.  Not enough rain to wash off the windows, just enough to convert the covering of desert dust into spots that my camera wants to focus on.

I moved my finch feeder to just outside my bedroom window, and it’s been populated by a rotation of maybe a dozen goldfinches and one rosy finch, which is about twice their size, since I refilled it with Nyjer thistle seed.  I tried a few shots and just got a blur behind the spots on the window. I was sure there’s a setting to remedy that.  Yup – with Manual I got this shot of a goldfinch.

I have (at least) two cute geckos living here, one in my garage (I had to scoot it out of my way to back the car out), another in the storage shed.  Add that to all of the outdoor lizards, and I have quite a few reptiles eating my bugs.  But I am keeping the paper wasp nest in the ceiling corner of my patio.  Am fascinated with those insects.

Someone (mouse?) keeps trying to make a nest in my aforementioned storage shed.  One was composed of dried grasses, another of fallen blossoms from the desert willow.  I keep sweeping them out, but the shed smells of animal.  I even googled do geckos make nests to make sure I wasn’t jeopardizing its reproduction.  (They don’t.)

Took a photo of the clutch of baby quail, all just a bit bigger than acorns, but the camera focused on the welded wire, and they scampered down the slope too fast for me to count.  Somewhere around eight.  Have considered removing the wire from the fence to let in more critters, and just encircling my vegetable garden (harvested some spinach leaves today – leaving the plants to produce more), but it would be a bit of trouble.

Streaming

I have not had a working television since the cable line in the back of my TV was ripped out during my move to South Carolina, which was somewhere around a dozen years ago.  When my daughter moved back to town two years ago she loaned me one of her spare flat-screen TVs as their house came with two televisions bolted to the walls.  (Gave the old behemoth to my handyman, just to get someone to carry it out.)  It’s not smart, however, so I had to get a fire stick just to have it tune into my wifi.

So I do not get actual TV, but my son put me on his Netflix Streaming plan, and now I’m watching way too many series and a few movies, thus melting my mind every evening.

  • Sherlock (with Smaug and Bilbo, which is kind of mind-bending)
  • Untold History of the United States (co-written, directed, and produced by Oliver Stone, starting with WWI)
  • The West Wing (the presidency – way too cheery)
  • House of Cards (the presidency – way too dark)
  • Veep (politics – which is supposed to be funny, but I’m put off with every third word starting with an “f”; had a friend visiting from Australia who kept needling me about Trump, so I thought that this would give me a laugh)
  • The Crown ( a costume drama – the life of Queen Elizabeth II from 1940 to today)
  • Longmire (reminiscent of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels, which I got tired of after book two; my son was put off by the cowboy sheriff being played by an Australian actor)
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (magic in 19th century England – mostly silly)
  • Black Mirror (a BBC contemporary reworking of “The Twilight Zone” – each episode is stand-alone, and some are dreadful.  Season 3, Episode 6: “Hated in the Nation” reminded me of Michael Crichton’s book Prey;  but my favorite episode is Season Three Episode 3, “Playtest” – I love the punchline at the end)
  • Cleverman (an American drama that takes place in Australia, with Iain Glen from Game of Thrones, and hints of District 9, where the internment camps were in South Africa – somewhat silly but with roots in Aboriginal mythology)
  • Stranger Things (see my ref in
    https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/humor/ – silly)
  • Zootopia (I loved this Disney animated feature)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.(silly – a Marvel’s series)
  • Daredevil (also silly – a Marvel character)
  • Captain America: Civil War (“)
  • Luke Cage (“)
  • Jessica Jones (“)
  • Game of Thrones (love this !!!  See this ref:
    https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/humor/)
  • Outlander (“)
  • Father Brown (a BBC series of a crime-solving Catholic Priest – silly)
  • Arrow (as in the Green Arrow – a DC character – silly)
  • Helen Mirrin’s old Prime Suspect (the British series – woman as hard-ass)

Frankly, by this time I’m sick of half a dozen killings a night…

  • Boardwalk Empire (but after five seasons I got tired of Nucky Thompson – how could women fall for Steve Buscemi?)
  • Juana Ines (liked this period drama in Spanish with subtitles but real story of a self-taught scholar, philosopher and poet of the Baroque school, and Hieronymite nun in Mexico City)
  • Grace & Frankie (with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, whose husbands, Martin Sheen – really?  he’s the West Wing President! – and Sam Waterston, divorce them to marry each other – pretty vacuous, with old-people jokes)
  • The Big Short (movie okay, but liked the book better)
  • The Last Kingdom (how England arose as a nation, with Anglo-Saxons and Danes – with great hairdos and tats – based on the historical fiction novels The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, which I haven’t read)

Predators

May 2, 2017

Good that the doves breed all year ’round to keep the predators fed.  Not only the bobcat and snake I showed in my last blog, but the roadrunner that today jumped over my fence to drink from the birdbath.  And yesterday there was a hawk on my neighbor’s fence, Cooper’s I think, although I didn’t get a good look, as when I saw it, it saw me and promptly flew away.

The Goldfinch

On Saturday, when my daughter’s family stopped by, my daughter espied a baby chick on the ground.  We knew it was a goldfinch because a parent was cheeping at us from a tree.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t see a nest to return it to, and the large mesquite out front has been over-trimmed (why do people do that?) so that the branches are 30 feet up, with no way to get to a nest if we’d even seen it.

So… my daughter took it home, filled a container with rags and hamster bedding, made a mash of kitten milk, catfood, and ground seeds, and fed it with a eyedropper. Pretty horrible looking, isn’t it? It doesn’t have flight feathers, and it hasn’t opened its eyes yet.  A bit of smashed mash on the wings, as it would turn quickly.  (The grey feathers I added – they were left from the bobcat’s meal.)

Anyway, she then took off on a three-day field trip to California with her daughter, and left the nestling to me!  She said she’d been feeding it every hour or so.   Supposed to feed it until its crop (a bubble on its neck) is full.  And if its skin is red, it’s dehydrated.  I checked the advice online to verify.1

Decided it needed birdseed, so chopped up sunflower kernels and Niger thistle seeds (which didn’t grind well with the mortar and pestle), mixed with water, and it seemed to like that, cheeping and jumping about.

Something is seriously wrong with its eyes.  I googled, of course, I have a finch with encrusted eyes. What should I do?

You are observing a disease that was first observed in House Finches in the Mid-Atlantic States in 1994, that has since spread to most of North America. It is caused by a parasitic bacterium called Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis. So far, the disease is most prominent in the eastern population of House Finches. However, a few reports of the disease have been confirmed in American Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, and Pine Grosbeaks, all members of the family Fringillidae. There is a lot of information on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website — the FAQ page is particularly informative.2

So I looked up what to do for that.3

Then kept searching:

Avian pox is another disease that affects House Finches. This disease is characterized by wart-like growths on the featherless areas of the body such as around the eye, the base of the beak, and on the legs and feet. Avian pox can be mistaken for conjunctivitis when the eyes are affected. “Growths” on the eye are typically from avian pox.4

Then the meds for that.5  But of course my daughter pointed out that it was just a chick that fell out of a tree, and it would die, just not by predator.

Five days later and the bird is dying.  My daughter has brought it by on her way to work.  No cheeping today, no fluttering of wings, and  only two bites of food each feeding.  I cheeped at it in an attempt to get it to open its beak, and even played chirping goldfinch babies from the internet, earphone next to its head, but it wasn’t hungry, or we got the food wrong and maybe it’s stuck in its throat.   It is withering away.  So I thought it should spend some time outside, with the bird calls, the cooing of the mourning doves, underlain with the hum of my AC unit, the swish of cars along La Cholla, with the occasional low rumble of a truck.

A dried bougainvillea slowly rattles across the brick patio, the trees rustle in the wind, and there’s the whir of a hummingbird wings and their high-pitched ratchet call, along with the chitter of some small bird.  The white winged doves call “Who cooks for you?  Who cooks for you?”  There’s the loud cheep cheep cheep of the woodpecker or flicker (or is its call the scrak scrak scrak?), another twittering.

A goldfinch drinks from the birdbath, then swoops back to the area outside the fence.  Two mourning doves share it now.  Then the AC unit turns on again.  It had been windy and the sky was overcast all day, but it has blown over and the evening is cool.

My daughter picked the bird up after work and it died before she reached home.

[It] should have died hereafter…
Out, out, brief candle…
It is a tale…
Signifying nothing.

1http://www.finchinfo.com/breeding/handfeeding.php
2www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/abtdisease.html
3https://www.google.com/search?q=medicine+for+avian+conjunctivitis&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
4http://feederwatch.org/learn/house-finch-eye-disease/
5https://www.google.com/search?q=medicine+for+Avian+pox&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Dearly Departed

April 5, 2017

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Seen Today

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

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

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

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

Ubiquitous clutches of cyclists in colorful lycra.

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

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

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

Equal Pay Day

March 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

Seen This Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

STILLNESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My life…and the politics continue

November 19, 2016

owlPhotography

My old neighbor and friend, who passed away last December, who used to give me lots of advice on woodworking and lend me his tools, was a serious photographer in retirement.  His goal was to take a photo of every bird in North America.  His widow emailed me to go to Paul Bannick’s talk at Pima College on Saturday.  Paul had been a friend of my neighbor.  So I did.  Now I have to go out and buy $2000 worth of camera equipment (or at least read the manual for my old Canon point-and-shoot).

Marvelous two-hour talk about photographing birds.  I am an inveterate note-taker, so I have two pages of notes.  First find the birds: study their life history, where they are, why they are there, what are they eating, and so on.  Preset your shutter speed depending on their behavior.  Use aperture priority to isolate subject.  Good art – remove everything except what is essential.  Focus on the bird’s eye.  Which is the best lens for the money?  (300mm f/4 telephoto fixed lens for Canon SLR cameras) See dpreview.com  and compare lenses, not cameras.  Shoot raw.  (I know that my brother does.  When shooting in a format like JPEG image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.1)  Shoot in the early morning or late afternoon for the best light.  Then he got into histograms and lost me.

It was sponsored by the Tucson Audubon Society.  About sixty people attended.  I have to add that I had been in the Audubon Society in elementary school, until I found out that John James Audubon killed the birds before he painted them.  I quit and have not joined since.

Audubon, who was born April 26, 1785, first rose to fame through the 435 magnificent paintings he created for his landmark work, “Birds of America,” which detailed more than 700 bird species and was first published as a series on a subscription basis between 1827 and 1838…

He shot and killed every bird he painted. Audubon was a noted hunter and taxidermist, and much of the money he made during his lifetime was from selling animal skins, a practice that in part helped to fund the printing of “Birds of America.” But don’t assume that he took pleasure from killing the birds he painted: “The moment a bird was dead,” he said, “no matter how beautiful it had been in life, the pleasure of possession became blunted for me…”2

Birthday Smiles

My cousin posted photos he and his wife had taken during my birthday week.  This one of my brother, my cousin, me, and my son.me-dick-aaron-and-hal

I just reread all of my birthday cards and noted that four of the fourteen mentioned some aspect of aging:

  • Is this the birthday when you start asking yourself life’s big questions?  Like, “Why did I come into this room?  I knew a minute ago…”  
  • Woo-Hoo!  I remembered my password!
  • A woman opening a box with “My keys!!! My glasses!  How did you know?!” Hope you get everything you’ve been looking for and more! 
  • OMG I thought I was having a hot flash.  Thank God it was only your candles.

 

trump2No smiles here

Trump University agrees to settle lawsuit for $25 million, NY AG announces

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has agreed to settle lawsuits relating to his Trump University series of real estate seminars for $25 million, the New York Attorney General’s office said on Friday.

The suits alleged that the seminars failed to deliver the education it promised. The deal settles two class-action lawsuits in California and a civil suit filed by Schneiderman.

“Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws…”

— The Associated Press, NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.3

Hamilton

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Actor Leslie Odom, Jr. (L) and actor, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (R) perform on stage during "Hamilton" GRAMMY performance for The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Richard Rodgers Theater on February 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

(Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Many of you will know of the rap musical,  Hamilton: An American Musical… a musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show, inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow, achieved both critical acclaim [winning the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album] and box office success.4  I will note that it is the most expensive Broadway show ever, with the average ticket now going for $1200, and has been sold out for months, through January 2017.  Well, Mike Pence went to the show and the actor who plays Burr (and who is black and gay, in fact, all of the characters are historical figures who were all known to have been white, but they are played by actors of many races and ethnicities, notably black, Latino and Asian5) had a closing plea for him.  This is from the New York Times and contains a video.

“Hamilton,” the hit Broadway musical about colonial rebels shaping the future of an unformed country, took an even more political turn at the end of its performance on Friday night.
With Vice President-elect Mike Pence attending the show, the cast used the opportunity to make a statement emphasizing the need for the new administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, a Republican, to work on behalf of all Americans…
As the play ended, the actor who played Vice President Aaron Burr, Brandon Victor Dixon, acknowledged that Mr. Pence was in the audience, thanked him for attending and added, “We hope you will hear us out.” “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” he said. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”6

michellePhotoshopped but funny

1http://photographyconcentrate.com/10-reasons-why-you-should-be-shooting-raw/
2http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-john-james-audubon
3http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/18/president-elect-donald-trump-nearing-settlement-in-trump-university-case-source.html
4https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamilton_(musical)
5http://www.hesherman.com/2015/12/03/what-does-hamilton-tell-us-about-race-in-casting/
6http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/19/us/mike-pence-hamilton.html?_r=0

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/

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.

 

Pause

June 27, 2016

IMG_6468I still have four blogs from the Aegean that I need to add photos to. (My bad – I used a camera rather than my tablet or phone to take the photos, and I had not gotten a new memory stick that would have downloaded into my tablet, thinking that I may not be using the camera in a year.)  But a pause to comment on Tucson this past week.

monsoon 6-26-6I returned home a week ago to high temperatures (three hikers, one walker died on Sunday1, when it was 115°), but the monsoons really didn’t start until last night. Photo to the right from my bedroom window.  Photo below it from the news.2 The high winds and rain did not reach here, but the electricity went out at about 8:30, while I was watching a movie. Found my candles and matches by feel, but only one AAA battery (searching the house with a candle), and the book light needs two.  Nothing to do in the dark but try to sleep, but the lights came on in half an hour.

IMG_6466 Within the last week I have seen two quail with their two young chicks in my yard, a dove nesting on my patio, and a rabbit in the backyard.  Not sure how he got in, as there is a wall, but the hillside behind comes partially up the wall, so maybe he jumped in and couldn’t jump out.  I opened the gate, got behind him, and herded him out.

IMG_6478IMG_6476Unfortunately, a dove tried to fly through my office window; I found it sitting as though resting next to the front water pipe, but unfortunately dead.  Large collared lizards on the back wall and front tree, a whip-tailed lizard in the drive below.

A couple of months ago when I was in the garden watering I let my cat out.  When I turned around she was gone and didn’t come back for two hours.  I didn’t worry too much, as the desert hillside behind me is almost devoid of wildlife, only lizards, rabbits, birds, and an occasional coyote.  But when I heard her I caught something meow at the back door, there was a collared lizard, alive but slightly injured.  I picked him up and put him outside the gate.  Later I found two small dead lizards in the yard.  I have not allowed her out since.

I do miss the many animals in the wash behind my last house.  I even dreamed of bobcats last night.  This housing development was plopped down between the wash, which is now cemented, and the slight hill.  And there are vast swaths of scraped land for new developments within a few minutes of here.  There are too many people in the world.  We need ZPG! When I fly over Europe I am sad because of the lack of wild spaces.  According to Wikipedia: With the exception of Fennoscandia and northern Russia, few areas of untouched wilderness are currently found in Europe, except for various national parks.

1http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/32263660/authorities-suspect-heat-to-blame-in-another-death
2http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/32314396/storm-tears-through-winterhaven-knocks-down-countless-trees

Computers!

July 11, 2015

I shall be teaching two computer classes in the fall – CIS (Computer Information Systems – this class is mostly Excel) and  CAD (Computer Aided Drafting).  I’m getting the books to peruse, and am setting up my computer.  Had an old version of Windows (Vista – yeah, yeah, from just after the mastodons died) and upgraded affordably to Windows 8.  Had to buy a portable hard drive to save my personal information in case the hard drive was reformatted.  Downloading Windows took a couple of hours.  But when I started to download 4.02 GB of AutoCAD (free for instructors), the screen displayed 691 days 14 hours remaining.  Boy, does someone have a sense of humor!  It only took 14 hours…

When Windows upgraded, however, it threw away my Microsoft Office, which contained Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which I need for CIS, so I had to download a new Microsoft Office (also free for instructors).  Another problem was that my McAfee didn’t work.  I had paid for that so I let the technician (who I was delighted to find was female) take over my computer remotely to rectify the problem.  What a way to spend a weekend.

Carnage 

Got up this morning, opened the drapes, and went back to bed to listen to the news.  A huge smash! as what appeared to be a dove crashed into the glass door, turned around and glided over the rosemary to the small wash.  A large hawk in pursuit flapped by.  A while later I went to wash off the patio – there was blood and guts and feces splattered about.  That dove was doomed.

Yesterday morning I was sitting in bed reading the newspaper when a juvenile bobcat looked in the door,  but it didn’t stop for photographs.

Three times during the past week I have gone out back in the morning, startling a deer munching on mesquite pods under the large mesquite tree. They are so skittish!

When this year’s pack of coyotes go at it a few times a day (now at 4:30 pm) they all sound young – a lot of yipping, but no soulful howls, no gravitas.

Omar Sharif

Doctor Z…died at 83.   We all fell in love with him as Doctor Zhivago, but did you know that he was also one of the world’s top 50 contact bridge players?  I used to read his newspaper bridge column.  You can buy an Omar Sharif Bridge App (video game), or buy one of his books on bridge or bridge instructions.

Was disappointed to discover that he did not lead tours down the Nile, as
Egypt with Omar Sharif would have you believe.  I pictured him on the boat, talking about the mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids, as he did with Jane Pauley in April 1988, and teaching bridge in the evening.

He was born Michel Chalhoub, an Egyptian Catholic, but converted to Islam to marry an Egyptian actress.   They were married for 12 years.  He made Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand during the Six Day War, and when he had an affair with her (a Jew!) Egypt almost took away his citizenship.  (Barbra Streisand tried to make light of it. “Egypt angry!” she said. “You should hear what my Aunt Sarah said!”)

Pneumonia

Felt punk the other day, fluish but with what felt like cracked ribs on my left side.  Got a sub for the next day and saw my doctor who sent me for X-rays. Two hours later he called and told me that I have pneumonia!  I got online and discovered that you can contact it without even being in a hospital!   You can get pneumonia when you are in a hospital or nursing home. This is called healthcare-associated pneumonia.  You can also get it in your daily life, such as at school or work. This is called community-associated pneumonia.1

Plus, there are many strains, so the pneumonia shot, which provides immunity against the most common 23 strains of streptococcus pneumonia,2 which I had gotten, did not hit the bullseye.  (Like the flu shot that I had paid a few bucks for last year, only to pick up the flu from my grandkids at Christmas.) More than a hundred “bugs” (bacteria, viruses and fungi) can cause community-acquired pneumonia.2 Walking pneumonia (mycoplasma pneumoniae), which I guess I have, is most common in late summer and fall [and is] spread in families, schools and institutions…3

Was prescribed levofloxacin, which is also good for anthrax and plague, so I’m covered.  But, according to the pharmacist’s Medication Guide, the meds can cause photosensitivity (which is not being afraid of selfies, but being sun sensitive, a double whammy for blondes), tendon rupture or swelling (which worries me as my shoulder has finally healed) as well as cause serious side effects that can result in death.  Super.  Teaching is a dangerous profession.

1http://www.webmd.com/lung/tc/pneumonia-topic-overview
2http://www.pennlive.com/bodyandmind/index.ssf/2011/12/5_questions_about_getting_a_pn.html
3https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/mycoplasma/fact_sheet.htm