Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Worst State in the Country

February 3, 2018

I was surprised when NPR’s Whad’Ya Know? (a two-hour comedy/quiz/interview) host Michael Feldman asked this question this morning, What is Florida worst at? and the answer was Everything!  Newsweek published Florida Has Been Ranked the Worst State in the U.S. (I added the internet photo of an I-4 traffic jam.)

Florida is officially the crème de la crappy of all 50 states, ranking dead last on a list of best to worst locations in America.

Thrillist released a definitive ranking of the states in July with a… ranking system based on, literally, “everything,” …contributions to America: important, well-known people, inventions, food and drink, and unique physical beauty and landmarks.

So what makes Florida so god-awful?

Could be the humidity, the atrocious traffic and… “Florida is where bath salts and Creed and the Great Recession all got their starts. It’s where Donald Trump has chosen to hang out for seven solid weeks during the past year. I mean, c’mon.”

“When putting together a list such as this, there can be some temptation to defy popular expectations and go against the grain,” the site said. “However, Florida’s awfulness résumé is so staggeringly impressive that it couldn’t go any other way.”

…The state that likely broke most every prediction by topping the list was Michigan.

Despite Detroit’s bad rep, the site argues that Michigan has more coastline than any other state, except for Alaska. The site also mentions the undeniable beauty of the Upper Peninsula and its residents’ willingness to apologize for their creation of Kid Rock.   florida-worst-state-country

Was surprised also when Michigan, where I grew up, got best.  We lived in Detroit (between 7 and 8 mile, which Eminem rapped about).  Back then, before it got its bad rep, Detroit was the fifth largest city in the country, the Motor City.

I graduated from a nationally recognized high school in downtown Detroit, Cass Tech, which had been built in 1917, and have good memories of that.

Sorry I never got to the U.P. to see its undeniable beauty.  A cousin of mine went to college there, where you could ski to class!  Nostalgic about camping trips to Interlochen State Park, in the upper part of the Lower Peninsula, near the internationally renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts.  You could see a solitary musician, such as a french horn player, sitting in the middle of the forest, practicing.  I was never a good clarinetist, never getting past second clarinet in our high school band (it was an excellent band – our director left to lead the Michigan State marching band) but my brother was great at the saxophone; too bad we couldn’t afford to send him there.

However, I did take art classes at Cranbrook Academy of Art, outside of Detroit, in Bloomfield Hills, at one point.  Had a junk sculpture of a fawn next to a painting  by Picasso in the Cranbrook Art Museum.  Beautiful campus, with many sculptures by Henry Moore, buildings designed by Eliel Saarinen.  But, sadly, in 1972 they sold off some of the academy’s art collection, including works by Henry Moore… a way of increasing the endowment.  I remember photos my father took of this pond.  (Dick – do you have them?)

Our little patch of Arizona did  get attention from elsewhere.  The school district  where my children attended, CFSD, was rated best in the state (see left).

The Mail

Airlines completely lost a suitcase of mine back in ’68,  and have misplaced suitcases on at least three occasions, for up to a day (which they then delivered to my door), but never, to my recollection, was mail lost.  So when the 9×12 manila envelope that my daughter sent, with my letters she’s been collecting for me, I figured it was the fault of the hotel.

But it contained documents for my taxes and coupons to pay the HOA fees on my land.  And I did not remember the name of the accountant to whom the HOA dues are paid.  So I did some sleuthing.  My bank looked up the account the checks went to, and as that was in the same bank, gave me the name of the accountant; I called him, got the amount due and the address to send it to, as it was due the end of the month.  The secretary said that she would send more coupons.  Phew!  The hotel, of course, had the envelope the next day.  I pointed it out to the man at the front desk, who said he couldn’t read my name on it because it was written in cursive!

Kudos

After Brock’s “Grip and Grin” visit (see my blog never-a-dull-moment) he emailed us this:

As I walked through FEMA Headquarters and spoke with employees yesterday, I was impressed by the positive attitude of the FEMA workforce and your flexibility during times of uncertainty. When I spoke with Regional Administrators, I heard the same stories throughout our Regional offices and facilities across the country. Thank you for being a workforce that demonstrates integrity and professionalism..

Brock

Rodney Dangerfield

An article on him (nee Jacob Cohen) in last week’s NY Times Magazine:  rodney-dangerfield.  This video of him on Carson (for those of you who are not old enough to remember  Johnny, it was the Tonight show) from 1979 is pretty good: dangerfield

Seagull

As I was walking to lunch Friday,  saw a seagull flying.  I thought they stayed by the ocesn.  This photo from Rennett Stowe on the Internet.

Never a Dull Moment

January 21, 2018

What a roller coaster ride this last year.  Never boring.  Just this last week, Hawaii thought it would get nuked, it was reported that Trump “entertained” a porn star four months after Melania had Barron, for which his lawyer paid $130,000 hush money just before the election, he was also quoted as calling African nations, Haiti, and El Salvador “shitholes”, and the Federal government has just shut down.

Well, I and my compatriots happen to work for the Feds.  “FEMA is ordered to execute an orderly shutdown and we will furlough non-exempted employees,” emailed our Director, Brock Long.  Luckily, our group is exempt, so we shan’t have to leave our hotel rooms and move into our office spaces.  Hah!

Speaking of Brock (who signs his emails to us with just his first name, no title or anything else), he visited us last week.  He gave a talk on the seventh floor, broadcast to us on floors four through six.  The video onto a sheet.  With such tiny speakers we could only hear a fraction of what he said.  Embarrassing.  But he did come downstairs and shake hands with all of us, thanking us for our work.  Quite a personable guy, and one one of the few of Trump’s appointees who is actually qualified for the job (as opposed to Betsy DeVos), and doesn’t think that his department should be gutted (as Rick Perry, who said he wanted to abolish the Energy Department, and Scott Pruitt, who heads the Environmental Protection Agency but is a known climate change denier and coal industry supporter).  This from FEMA:

Mr. Long has more than 16 years of experience assisting and supporting local, state, and Federal Governments with building robust emergency management and public health preparedness programs…

From 2008-2011, Mr. Long served as Director of Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency (AEMA)… and served as the State Coordinating Officer for 14 disasters, including eight presidentially-declared events. Mr. Long also served as an on-scene State Incident Commander for the Alabama Unified Command during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Women’s March Orlando Anniversary

The weather is still up and down – Thursday morning it was 28°, and now it’s 78°.  That doesn’t seem to be helping my cough.  But I take meds, go to work, and vegetate on the weekend.  Didn’t feel up to joining the Women’s March Orlando Anniversary yesterday. (Photo by Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)  It was reported that thousands gathered.

A Glimpse of Beauty

Was driving “home” Friday, following Google Maps suggestions of shortcuts around backed-up streets, grimacing at some of the worst “architecture”, if you can even use that word, and then there was a four-and-a-half foot sandhill crane, standing in the grass on one leg, glancing at the traffic.  With a red head and dove-grey wing feathers, blending into its white neck.  Wow – so elegant!  Obviously couldn’t take a photo of it at 40mph, but Dannie Polley gave me permission to use his photo from the Web that looks just like it.

Immigrants

Practically everybody I know is a descendants of immigrants.  (I have worked with a few Navajos, who also migrated to North America, but about 3,000 BC+, so we call them Native Americans.)  Anyway, this from Nicholas Kristof’s column in the Times last week:

In 1885, a poor, uneducated 16-year-old boy arrived in our country from Germany at a time when immigrants were often looked down on by affluent Americans.

This boy was ambitious and entrepreneurial, and, despite language problems, he earned some money and then traveled up to the Klondike during the gold rush to operate a hotel that became notorious for prostitution.  He prospered, and today his grandson is President Trump.

Please read the whole column: Mr. Trump, Meet a Hero You Maligned

Home for the Holidays

December 29, 2017

We get to take a “rotation” every 45 days.  So I was home for the holidays.  And it was a lot cooler in Tucson than Orlando!  When I left Orlando at 6 am last Friday it was 63°, but with the humidity at 98%, even long sleeves were warm.  When I arrived in Tucson at 12:30 (having lost a few hours) it was 57° with 24% humidity.  What a beautiful city!  The air was clear and all four mountain ranges could be clearly seen.  I did like the morning fog in Orlando during the previous week, but I do enjoy views.

After getting Uber’ed home, ditching my suitcase, and picking up my car, went to my daughter’s to make many dozens of Christmas cookies.

Shopping & Ice Hockey

What a marvelous day of shopping Saturday, which I usually don’t like.  First took my youngest grandchild to Toys “R” Us for his choice, then on to the mall and Dillard’s for my son, the middle grandson, and my granddaughter to buy the wardrobe items they wanted.  Already got my daughter and son-in-law gift certificates for their wishes.  And I didn’t even think of all of the dollars flowing from my credit card, ’cause I’m working when I hadn’t expected to.

That night my son took us all to a hockey game, in my daughter’s new SUV.  We may not be the 1%, but it’s a good year for us.  Didn’t even know that Tucson had jump-started hockey again.  The Tucson Roadrunners are a professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League which began play for the 2016–17 season.  (The University of Arizona had had a hockey team from 1979 to 2011.)  Because my son lives in Vancouver, Canada, he is very into hockey.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Lights in my daughter’s neighborhood.


Fast and Furious

November 30, 2017

About forty newbies from Wave 11 showed up at our AFO on Monday.  We scrambled to find enough tables and chairs, and the PA TFLs (Team Field Leaders) were stretched to manage more of us.  Our feet are being held to the fire to get our calls, meetings, and documentation done quickly and the applicants’ paperwork finished and to the feds before the Christmas holidays.  I started off behind, as my first applicants were schools, I arrived at the AFO on the Monday of Thanksgiving week, when all of the schools had a week off for break.  (I did not get an entire week off to join the Native Americans in their National Day of Mourning, nor did my children or grandchildren.)  Our applicants have already waited almost two months for disaster relief from our government.  BTW – According to Wikipedia, Irma’s damage is almost $64.66 billion – Unofficially the fifth-costliest hurricane on record, which makes this a good time to cut taxes.

Fitness

Walked to the Subway for lunch today – 0.8 miles each way, according to Google maps. In anticipation had slathered with sunscreen in the morning, as the clouds have finally receeded.  But I had forgotten that when the humidity is 75%, you’re damp when you return.  However, I need exercise, and walking up and down the stairs to my second floor “residence” (It’s not a room,  it’s a residence), plus walking up and down the stairs to the third floor office aren’t enough, but getting up to exercise before work (starting time 8 am at the latest) does not appeal to this not-a-morning-person.  And after work I’m tired.  (Remember, I haven’t worked full time for almost ten years.)  Nevertheless, the RVD Athletic Club is near, and at 5:30 pm they offer Group Core:

Train like an athlete in 30-action packed minutes. A strong core, from your shoulders to your hips, will improve your athletic performance, prevent back pain and give you ripped abs! Motivating instructors and music will coach you through functional and integrated exercises using your body weight, a weight plate, a towel and a platform – all to challenge you like never before. REACH YOUR PEAK with Group Core!

Hahahahaha…

Flora and Fauna

Our office is in a beautiful office park (photos here from the Web) with mature trees (with leaves! unlike those in Tucson), some laden with Spanish moss.  (Click on the one at right for a view.)  Walkways wind along masses of green – azaleas, some blooming, society garlic, also blooming, large swaths of giant philodendren, liriope larger than I can grow in Tucson, New Zealand flax, all in large beds, manicured hedges,  low walls covered with ivy or moss, and large ponds, some with water lilies.

Already mentioned the plethora of squirrels, the vultures and the hawk, but forgot the cattle egrets (tick birds we used to call them in Jamaica, as they had a symbiotic relationship with the cattle, keeping them relatively free of bugs) – about five of them sitting on a hedge, as there are no cows around.  And a solitary egret in one of the ponds, looking like a statue among the flock of ducks, mallards and white peking, enjoying the water.  No segregation here.

No Frolicking

We were sent an email about Rental Car Unauthorized Activities.   This was one:

Frolicking- doing things that are for recreation, sightseeing, movies, bowling, concerts, bar hopping, going to the beach or amusement parks; if you are having fun you are unlikely to be in the scope of your employment.

Having fun is definitely not in our scope of work.

Speaking of rental cars, ours are to be cheap, and mine is a two-door VW beetle.  But a bit snazzier than the delapidated one my boyfriend had in college. Because it’s a turbo, the first time I hit the gas I nearly got whiplash!  And it has heated seats, which I’ve used on two “cold” mornings.

Disaster

November 26, 2017

PA

First, let me clarify the difference between PA and IA, Public Assistance v. Individual Assistance.  I’m working PA, assisting three schools (public facilities), rather than helping individuals with their homes, cars, and other possessions. This explains it well: understanding IA and PA.  But it’s way different from what I did for Katrina victims, three school districts off the coast where the hurricane had spawned tornadoes, and then on the coast out of Biloxi, with an elementary school with so much damage and the dreaded black mold that it had to be razed.  Now I’m managing the federal paperwork (which isn’t paper but electronic) and am the single POC (Point Of Contact) for each applicant; others  such as SI (Site Inspectors) report to me on the damage and yet others do the estimation of cost, both of which I had done previously.

Another acronym: FEMA is under the DHS (Department of Homeland Security).

Holidays

We got this notice two weeks ago:

The spirit of the holiday season is once again upon us and I wish you all the best during this special time of the year. This year, FEMA’s official holiday celebration will be observed on Thursday, December 14, 2017. We encourage each of you to take time to enjoy the season, share goodwill with coworkers, and spend quality time with family and friends.

A few of you have asked about Thanksgiving.  A woman in the office put out a sign-in sheet, ordered the food from Boston Market,  and 30 of us paid $17 and gathered at one of the extended stays that had a conference room.  Nice community of people.   [In Mississippi the boss asked me to organize Thanksgiving.  We (PA) shared an exhibition hall at a county fairgrounds with the distribution warehouse for IA which housed water, MREs – Meals Ready to Eat, mattresses,  blankets,  and so on.  So the truckers deep-fried a few turkeys (marvelous!) and I ordered large amounts of coleslaw, potato salad, and whatever else the local grocery’s deli counter had, as well as pies.  We moved our tables together in the hall and about 40 of us ate on paper plates.  Think the boss may even have waived the prohibition on alcohol.  Don’t remember.  But he had FEMA pay for the whole feast.]

On Thanksgiving morning I moved into new digs.  Had only reserved the room at the ESA (Extended Stay America) for one week, and it didn’t have much room for clothes; I’d been living out of suitcases for three weeks – two at the Econo Lodge in Frederick (one star), and one here in Maitland.  A few women at work said that the Residence Inn had a three-drawer dresser under the television.  I called but was told that there was no room at the inn.  Forgoing a manger, I got on their 800 number and after almost half an hour booked a room for the next six months.  Had to spend one more night in the ESA, hence the Turkey Day move.

We worked Friday.

My handlers (at my contracting firm, a subsidiary of Fluor) are doing a cost-benefit analysis of my possible Christmas leave.  If I move out of my room, store my bags, and they don’t have to give me per diem for a few days, I may get six days off, two of which shall be spent flying.   BTW – google Florida and per diem 2017.  The GSA (General Services Administration) gives us up to $129/night for accommodations.   The Residence Inn is $119 but shall be going up to  $129, as many others are doing.  At the far right of the list is M&IE (Meals & Incidental Expenses).

Speaking of which, I have to do my expense report for tomorrow, which has also been a learning curve, taking photos of paper receipts, turning them in to pdf’s, which then have to be attached pages in the WIS ( think it’s a Weekly Input Sheet), a spreadsheet which also needs to be converted to a pdf (Portable Document Format).  And three estimates of plane fare to and from Tucson for the cost-benefit analysis.  So must stop typing for today.

Driving around Orlando

I-4 is the main drag north of the center of Orlando. It is under construction and a big mess, but I have only seen one steam shovel at work. At 1:10 in the afternoon it was bumper to bumper. An hour and a quarter later it was bumper to bumper in the other direction.  Plus could never find anything if it weren’t for my trusty Waze.  One of the guys in our group recommended it; he likes it better than google maps ’cause it also mentions a disabled car at the side of the road, or a cop ahead.

We were just given a phone list of our compatriots here. 488 on the list.

Wildlife

Looking out the window at work (we’re working in a “bull pen”, ringed by windowed offices for the higher-ups, but one office hasn’t been filled yet and we use it for phone conversations) I saw a red-tailed hawk glide over the large pond next to our building.  It was a rainy day – many of those, many others overcast.  You would think that they could do without the sprinklers on the lawns.

Going to breakfast yesterday (not bad here at the Residence Inn,  as opposed to granola bars at the less expensive ESA) saw three vultures hunched over on dead branches at the top of a tall tree,  huddled against the heavy fog.  Today there were about 8 of them circling overhead.  Wonder what I don’ t know about this area.  Lots of cute squirrels.

 

Just to brag.  My son went as Jon Snow (albeit with less hair) to a costume party and got first prize.  (I used to love costume parties, although I did have my mom around to sew the outfits.)

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

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.)

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/

Stuff

August 10, 2017

First, watch this George Carlin video: carlin on stuff

A couple of weeks ago in the NY Times I read this commentary:  summer-bucket-listThe author, Bari Weiss, mentioned a Kondo closet, which I had to look up and found this article from a few years ago: Tidying Up.  (She also listed Buy Dyson hair dryer!  Had to hit that hot button.  They cost $400!!!)  I was intrigued.  Marie Kondo makes me look like a hoarder!   (OMG – there’s an American television series, Hoarders!)

Anyway, I got her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, from the library.  Before I’d finished the first chapter I began on my bookshelves and took three grocery bags of books to the library.  Then I started in on clothes, camping equipment and holiday decorations.  Four giant trash bags to Goodwill.  Plus numerous bags of recyclables and trash.  And I’m not even doing it right!  You’re supposed to start with your clothes and only keep ones that “spark joy”.  Now that I’ve finished the short book (and gotten her second, Spark Joy, from the library), I’ve learned to fold “properly” and the drawers that I’ve worked on are now only half full.  But it’s tiring…

Spurred by a comment in her second book, I started to throw on photos from albums.  Mostly buildings, such as ones I’d photographed in Mexico City.  Know the kids aren’t interested in them.  Then tossed out a few folders of student stuff from Pima.  And started in under the bathroom sink.  (Try it!) After than opened a few boxes in my third bedroom (AKA storage locker) and found the wrapping paper box I’d lost for a year, and some empty frames to donate.  Got my daughter to stop by to read old letters she had sent from her college year abroad in France so I could toss them.  Next she went through a pile of elementary school artwork.  Almost kept one gorgeous painting of a rabbit, but no, she’s got enough elementary school paintings by her own kids.

(Going to wrap up my son’s letters in one box and his elementary school paintings in another, and give them to him for Christmas.  Did that before – a number of years ago I had run out of room in my filing cabinet, so took two folders of each of my kid’s elementary school grades and awards, boxed and decorated them, and gave them to my son and daughter for Christmas.  My daughter had a hissy fit: Oh you’re trying to get rid of our memories, but my son read his, laughed about a lot of it, and then threw the pile away.)

Each time I visit my friends in San Diego, L & P, L asks me to help her clean out a room.  The last time it was her office, as she had retired as an attorney.  What I’m good as is triage – keep, donate, toss.  Because most of her documents were confidential, the shredder was working constantly.  We filled both the trash and the recycle bin, and even borrowed her neighbor’s.  To facilitate disposal, I even took four bags home to recycle them here.  (Scroll down in san-diego-continued for another project, Collection Triage, moving the chairs and bookcases in to the addition to their living/dining room, and “tidying up” in the process.)  L thinks I should hire out.

Seen in the past few weeks

There were four small bobcats in front of my neighbor’s garage as I drove past.  They heard the car and skittered under a huge red bird of paradise.  Not sure if it was a mother and three kittens, but when I took this photo there was some low growling.  When I checked an hour later they were gone.

This is the round-tailed ground squirrel that climbs the welded wire to eat my plants.  It’s trying to get away from me and my camera.  Cute as the dickens, but why we use that epithet is beyond me.  Dickens is a euphemism for  the devil, and why would a devil be cute?

I love to watch the mountains from the back of my house.  This photo at dusk.

A few unusual animals to see.  A red-headed lizard in my yard, probably a male collared lizard.  A (poisonous) Colorado river toad hiding from the heat in the corner of my daughter’s entry.  The hot gravel yards were no doubt inhospitable.

A defensive milky neurotoxin venom can be released from the parotid gland behind the eyes and similar organs on the legs. The venom is potent enough to kill a large dog, should the dog grab a toad. Symptoms of envenomation include foaming at the mouth, drunken gait, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, or complete collapse. There is no antitoxin.
https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/05/18/the-sonoran-desert-toad-psychedelic-and-toxic/

A couple of police down the street from my daughter’s were watching an African spurred tortoise while someone was trying to find its owner.  They are much larger than our desert tortoise.  This article is probably about the tortoise on the lam: tucsonlocalmedia.com.  Think Oro Valley is a bit slow on crime…

A silky flycatcher (phainopepla) has taken a liking to my birdbath.  Learned something new about them:

The Phainopepla, when pursued by predators or handled by humans, mimics the calls of other birds; imitations of at least 13 species have been recorded. allaboutbirds.org

And my barrel cactus is blooming beautifully.

 

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.)