Archive for the ‘Rabbits’ Category

Easter 2017

April 17, 2017

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

Spring Flowers

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


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

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

 

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

 

Art

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

 

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

Smoke Bomb Photos

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

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

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

Books and Other Distractions

June 15, 2014

I do get distracted with google. But what I find out is so interesting! I’m reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, which a friend lent me, and one new book they ordered for the bookstore was House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which I looked up and, according to Wikipedia: The format and structure of the novel is unconventional, with unusual page layout and style, making it a prime example of ergodic literature.

So I had to look up ergodic literature.  (All of these refs are from Wikipedia.)

In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages.grasshopper

Reminded me of e e cummings’ grasshopper, on which I had done a talk to waive one of my required education classes, back when I was getting my first degree.

Examples from Wikipedia were Guillaume Apollinaire’s poems, one shown here, shaped as a bird over a tree (hope you can read French):Apollinaire      and:

Raymond Queneau’s One hundred million million poems, a set of ten sonnets. They are printed on card with each line on a separated strip, like a heads-bodies-and-legs book, a type of children’s book with which Queneau was familiar. As all ten sonnets have not just the same rhyme scheme but the same rhyme sounds, any lines from a sonnet can be combined with any from the nine others, so that there are 1014 (= 100,000,000,000,000) different poems. It would take some 200,000,000 years to read them all, even reading twenty-four hours a day.

So I had to look up sonnet, as my degree in English was from 45 years ago. Sure enough, 14 lines (hence 1014). Some examples here, with different rhyme schemes:

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116”

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments, love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come,
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

On His Blindness by Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

On my patio

whiptail 004whiptail 002whiptail 001An Arizona striped whiptail lizard (which is quite small), a roadrunner (which my cat chattered at), and our friend the bunny, who my cat did not kill, coming to drink.

Owls of the Sonoran Desert

Interesting article on Owls in my Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum News.  It’s not on the Web but this from their website:

A great horned owl can close its feet with 500 psi (pounds per square inch). The average human exerts- squeezing as hard as we can- 80-150 psi. However, the story that owls will eat your dogs/cats is an urban legend; an owl can only lift around its own body weight (2-3 lbs) and owls are found throughout urban areas. While we don’t like to say it ‘never’ happens, it certainly doesn’t happen with frequency. Owls will dive at cats, dogs and even people if they have a nest in the area, sometimes misconstrued as a hunting attempt.1

My brother who volunteers at the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa, Ca (I’ve blogged about him a few times – here are a couple of them, the second with photos of him with some of the birds2,3) disagreed w/ some of the “facts” about great-horned owls:

We have three great-horned owls as resident birds, one of which is 26 years old. We get them all the time in rehab and just recently re-nested two fledglings last week.

We generally say they can exert over 200 lbs per square inch with their feet (not 500 psi) — but they do, indeed, take pets — it’s not an urban legend. Levi Leipheimer (famous bike racer) lost a chihuahua to a great-horned owl, and cats are regularly taken. They can only lift around their own body weight, but they can kill animals 2-3 times their size and just tear it apart on the ground…taking pieces to their young.
My first monitor bird was a great-horned owl (Jazz) and I regularly handle them — they’re relatively easy to handle.

And back in 2012 I had mentioned to him how sore my arms got from holding them out in the qigong standing by the stream meditation and he said try it with a raptor on your left hand!  At that point he was working with a large owl.  He said, The owl is a great-horned owl, and weighs about 3lbs (1460g); the heavier one weighs 1670g. I’m required to do at least three 3.5hr shifts at the Sonoma County Fair, which is our biggest fund raiser… probably with a great-horned but possibly with other birds.

1http://www.desertmuseum.org/visit/rff_greathornedowl.php
2https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/raptors/
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/cazadero-1214/

Packrat

June 6, 2014

When I had to replace one of my A/C units (there is one for the first floor, a smaller one for the lower, which rarely runs) last summer one of the guys said that I had had a rat or mouse in the heating room, but it was (luckily) gone.  So he sprayed some foam into the insulation around the pipes for the units outside where any creature could have gotten in.  A week or so ago I went to find the cat and she was sitting by the units watching that area.  A few days later I saw a tiny nose with whisker at the end in the insulation, and noticed that the foam had been chewed away.

So I borrowed my neighbor’s rat trap which catches them alive, baited it with peanut butter on a cracker, and sure enough, by next morning had caught one.  Darling creature!  (I neglected to take a photo; this from the Net.)  I know that my neighbor drowns pack ratcritters 008them in his pool (while in the trap), then throws them beyond his fence for the coyotes.  They’re always gone the next day.

critters 009I couldn’t do it, so let it go on the far side of the yard.  And plugged up the chewed opening with rocks.  But now I am worried that there are babies left behind, and they’ll die and stink up the place.  Sigh!  Must somehow get the plywood front of the area below the heaters….

But did order my own live trap, for further use.  Pack rats can be very destructive.  At the house I lived in when my kids were little we had a pool and spa.  The rats got into the equipment, and ate the wiring.  Cost a lot to replace the wiring, plus getting the pump and heater rat-proofed.   When my mother was ill and not driving her car, it sat in her carport, and a rat got into the engine area and chewed on  some wires.  This is quite common in Tucson with carports.

A friend with a carport tried bars of Irish Spring soap around the wheels of her car, and left the carport light on all night.  It seemed to work.  But another friend said that her packrats chewed on the Irish Spring soap!

The recent suggestions that I have gotten were: put mothballs in the den so they won’t return, and stuff aluminum foil into the opening, as rats won’t chew that ’cause it’s too hard on their teeth.  When the repair man fixed my spa he said that it looked like packrats wanted to make a home under the deck, so he scattered mothballs there.  Haven’t seen any sign of packrats there since, but when you sit in the spa there is an overwhelming smell of mothballs!

Other critters

critters 006A tiny bird (maybe 5″ head to tail) was dead next to my bedroom door.  Wings not right for a verdin.  No finch color.  Bushtits don’t have orange beaks.  Anyone?

Looked at the slider for the crash – sure enough, two tiny breast feathers stuck to the door.  My cat rarely catches a bird, but my house does, unfortunately.

Seen today: a young deer on the sidewalk, ignoring cars going down the street, eating palo verde seedpods from the tree.

critters 018Rabbits like to dig a shallow hole into damp dirt (from the drip system) to relax during the day.  Photo here of one next to the driveway hedge.

I tried corralling my cat on the deck by shutting off the spiral stairs with a child gate (used for my grandchildren).  Hah!  She inspected it for a few minutes, then leapt over.  May try three-foot chicken wire next.  Anyway, she stalked a rabbit cooling under a Texas ranger next to the house, in the shade.  Being older than the one that she had killed, it took off across the yard in a blur of fur.

critters 017Guess I don’t need to put out finch seed.  Not only do they love the seeds on the rosemary and creosote, but they feast on aphids and ants on my sunflower.  I watch them from my shower.  Four were on it this morning.  (And five this afternoon when I went out to the garden.)

Scorpions can be found anywhere.  In my bathrobe, I bent down and a tiny scorpion dropped from my collar.  I thanked it for not stinging me and let it scuttle beneath the cabinets.  Loading the dishwasher, I found a larger one below a dish in the sink.  I caught it under a glass, slide a card beneath it, and dropped it into the rosemary.

red 010A collared lizard (see photo), who likes to sit on my bedroom patio and lunge at bugs, lives in the rosemary and will probably eat all of the insects I drop into it.

critters 003The turquoise spiny lizard was back on my kitchen widow sill and watched me as I finished the dishes.

Reading

Friends here know that when I can’t remember something I usually say, I haven’t gotten my Google implant yet!  Well, after having read the novel, The Word Exchange, by Alena Graedon, I am never getting it!  In this dystopian  future, after everyone is tied to their “meme” (iphone) or their implant, and no longer try to remember anything, the company starts to charge per word.  So if you can’t afford it, you’ve lost all of your records, and can barely speak.  But it gets really bad with a computer virus…

A highly contagious, sometimes fatal virus called “word flu” has leapt from computers to their users, corrupting not only written language but also spoken words with gibberish and scaring the “pask” out of infected “netizens”.1

Just finished reading The God of Small Things, a Booker Prize winner by Indian writer Arundhati Roy2.  It was hard for me to slog through the dysfunctional Indian family story.  If you’ve had enough of India’s brutality against women and the lower castes, having just read about the two girls, 12 and 14, who were raped and then hung by their scarves from a mango tree3 in Uttar Pradesh, don’t read this book.  Well written, although I found I had to google avalose oondas (a rice candy flavored with lime and cardamon) and other Malayalam words, but totally depressing.

To offset that, I needed a bit of whimsy.  One of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels4.  The television series, True Blood, is dreadful, besides all of the graphic sex, but the books are funny.  Sookie is the main character, and her grandmother loves the vampire she’s “dating” because he was in the Civil War and she can have him speak to her “Descendants of the Glorious Dead”, an organization devoted to honoring the memory of the Civil War.  The vampires have “come out” and many people (especially where it takes place, in the South) have a hard tie dealing with it.  Not such a veiled reference to their warmth to the LGBT community.  Anyway, the books are a kick, and you can read one in a day (but you should read them in order).

Garden

critters 019I have lots of volunteer flowers in my vegetable garden because I make my own compost, and the seeds in it sprout.  I have dug some snapdragons up and put them in pots, but when I put them in my backyard the leaves were immediately gone.  Guess the rabbits loved them.  They don’t nibble on the wildflowers, however, the gazanias and desert sand verbena (some of which I’ve also transplanted from the vegetable garden).  Have a volunteer prairie coneflower next to the Mexican primrose, I guess from the wildflower seeds I spread two or three years ago in the compost.

1http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/books/review/the-word-exchange-by-alena-graedon.html?_r=0
2http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/25/reviews/970525.25truaxt.html
3http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/world/asia/caste-system-indians-angry-about-rape-hanging-of-two-girls-left-in-tree.html?_r=0
4https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/vampires-werewolves-and-ghouls-oh-my/

Red

June 1, 2014

red 014
red 011memorial day 006

Saguaro fruit, the volunteer petunia, “brushes” on my dwarf bottlebrush, a rosy finch, a cardinal.  And, of course, my “communist” leanings1.

red finch2cardinal 013

(The cat just came to attention as I’m typing.  A coyote had emerged from the neighbor’s yard, but before I could get to the window with my camera it had lopped quickly across the asphalt street and into the brush on the far side.  As it is presently 97° – at 10:46 am – I’ll bet that street is really hot.)

Lizards

A turquoise spiny lizard often sits outside my kitchen window, but I missed the photo there.  Here it rests in the shade on the wall.

lizard 005lizard 006When I work in my compost pile, a different spiny lizard comes out to watch me closely (and to eat the scattering bugs).   I  believe that it would eat from my hand if I had a handy cockroach.  Perhaps the blue one is the male, and this one the female.

These lizards exhibit metachromatism, which means they change color depending on the temperature: generally with darker colors in cool temperatures. They also change color with the seasons and for mating.

Rabbit

While I was communing with my lizards my cat was catching a young rabbit.  Looked smaller than the one who had peeked in my patio door (see last blog), but I haven’t seen that one since.

These lizards exhibit metachromatism, which means they change color depending on the temperature: generally with darker colors in cool temperatures. They also change color with the seasons and for mating. – See more at: http://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/03/02/metachromatic-spiny-lizards/#sthash.SpghOEVc.dpuf
These lizards exhibit metachromatism, which means they change color depending on the temperature: generally with darker colors in cool temperatures. They also change color with the seasons and for mating. – See more at: http://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/03/02/metachromatic-spiny-lizards/#sthash.SpghOEVc.dpuf
These lizards exhibit metachromatism, which means they change color depending on the temperature: generally with darker colors in cool temperatures. They also change color with the seasons and for mating. – See more at: http://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/03/02/metachromatic-spiny-lizards/#sthash.SpghOEVc.dpuf

The Death of a Cottontail

A rabbit my aging feline caught,
Puddled in the tool room, with broken neck, carried by me
To the garden verge, and sanctuaried
Under the mesquite tree, in the shade
Of the narrow, bipinnately compound leaves, in a hot,
Bright, and a final glade.

The rare original heartsblood had stopped,
Spent from the furry hide, the tiny feet, the cotton tail,
As he drooped in my hands with staring eyes,
Warm as if he would return to life.
But soundlessly dead,
Not hearing the mourning dove coo,

In the dry but flowering desert
And cooling evenings, lost Leporidae emperies.
Day dwindles, drowning and at length is gone
In the small and open eyes, which still appear
To watch, across the graveled dirt,
The haggard daylight steer.

(With apologies to Richard Wilbur.)

Movie

I almost cried about the rabbit.  So to put it in perspective that evening I watched the old movie The Killing Fields, where, in Cambodia in the 70’s about half a million people were slaughtered, either by our bombing, or by the Khmer Rouge.

From January to August 1973, the Khmer Republic government, with assistance from the US, dropped about half a million tons of bombs on Cambodia, which may have killed as many as 300,000 people.

…[The Khmer Rouge] executed hundreds of thousands of intellectuals; city residents; minority people such as the Cham, Vietnamese and Chinese…  Many were held in prisons, where they were detained, interrogated, tortured and executed. The most important prison in Cambodia, known as S-21, held approximately 14,000 prisoners while in operation. Only about 12 survived.2

I’d seen the movie long ago.  It’s quite good.

The Killing Fields is a 1984 British drama film set in Democratic Kampuchea, which is based on the experiences of two journalists: Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg. The film won eight BAFTA Awards and three Academy Awards…3

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/sage-green/
2http://www.cambodiatribunal.org/history/cambodian-history/khmer-rouge-history/
3http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Killing_Fields_%28film%29

Sage green

May 27, 2014

The name sage green covers a rage of shades.  My second house in Tucson had a yard full of sage.  Here we have bursage, so called because of its burr-like seeds, which would get into the dogs’ paws.  I removed all of it from the backyard.

sage greenbaby rabbit 003There are many greyish blue-green plants in the Sonoran desert.  So now for the color sage I think of the a century plant or Texas ranger or a prickly pear cactus.    memorial day 001lost wax 005(Or the cupric nitrate patina on my bronze cactus.)

Memorial Day

memorial day 018Yesterday, Memorial Day, I did go to my father’s grave.  I had heard on the radio that a Marine, Bob Fussner, has made it a goal that every American veteran have a flag placed upon his or her grave1.  Sure enough, there was one at my father’s.  He had been a navigator in the South Pacific during WWII.

There were so many flags!  For some reason I got kinda choked up, even though my father’s been gone for 35 years.  One family had set out fold-up lawn chairs and were chatting (possibly to the dead?)

Quail

This morning while I was still in bed listening to the news, a large family of quail trooped across my patio.  I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t count the tiny feather balls, but it looked like the proud couple had a dozen young ‘uns.  (Obviously not the couple who laid their eggs in a flower pot on my deck!)

Rabbit

baby rabbit 007baby rabbit 009baby rabbit 010Two mornings ago a wee little rabbit found the water dripping from a flower pot next to my bedroom patio.  Drove my cat crazy, though when she pounced she only hit the glass door.

baby rabbit 012But yesterday morning, while drinking, the bunny perked up and its nose went crazy.  Suddenly, it turned into a ball of fur.  Have no idea how it tucked in its ears.  A large coyote was sniffing on the far side of the fence.

I went upstairs to try to get a photo of the coyote, but, sensing me, it trotted off into the bush.  After it was gone the small cottontail hightailed it back to its den.

cherThis and That

Cher, who is my age(!), is doing another tour.  I thought, Sure, I could look like that (although maybe not as tall) if I had $305M.

A week ago an article in the NY Times about the high cost of American health care was entitled, Medicine’s Top Earners Are Not the M.D.s2
healthSomething similar was on the news this week, from ABC:

Propelled by a soaring stock market, the median pay package for a CEO rose above eight figures for the first time last year. The head of a Standard & Poor’s 500 company earned a record $10.5 million, an increase of 8.8 percent from $9.6 million in 2012…

This is where I start ranting and my Republican son-in-law calls me a communist.

OK, to get away from the issue of $$$, another article from the Times suggests that you think about your vacation ahead of time:

Wish you were on vacation right now? Don’t. Taking a vacation won’t necessarily make you happier. But anticipating it will.

This advice is problematic only if there is a chasm between expectations and reality. But even then, anticipation is still important — because that’s the part of the vacation that you were free to see however you wanted. Take, for example, the trip Professor Dunn took to Oahu, Hawaii. She spent plenty of time anticipating how wonderful it would be, which was a good thing because when she was at long last in Oahu she was attacked by a 10-foot tiger shark. The shark bit her leg to the bone but not into the bone, leaving her with scars though no physical impairments. It was, to state the obvious, her worst vacation ever. Yet Professor Dunn nonetheless pointed out that, “At least looking forward to it was still great.” Lesson: even if your vacation is terrible, nothing can take away the enjoyment you felt when you were simply fantasizing about it.3

1http://www.stripes.com/news/us/volunteers-goal-a-flag-on-every-military-grave-for-memorial-day-1.285319
2http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/sunday-review/doctors-salaries-are-not-the-big-cost.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults&mabReward=relbias%3Ar&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%23%2Fdoctors%2Bsalaries%2Bare%2Bnot%2Ffrom20140515to20140518%2F
3http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/travel/what-a-great-trip-and-im-not-even-there-yet.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults&mabReward=relbias%3Ar&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry41%23%2Fwhat%2520a%2520great%2520trip!

Idaho in May

June 3, 2013

When Tucson’s temps were pushing 100°, Twin Falls was balmy, in the 70’s.  I was visiting my daughter’s family there between my spring and summer sessions at Pima.

The Patio

In my last blog I detailed what had been done to her yard.  When I was there in Maya slab was to be poured in the back.  Rather than professionals doing it, husbands of women my daughter has met through her Mothers group volunteered to help.  Unfortunately, they had to do it after work Wednesday as one couple was leaving on vacation the next day.

twin front walkpatio 017patio 030Two hired labors had already moved the concrete pavers, using a neighbor’s hand truck, to the front yard for a new sidewalk, as designed.  patio 035(My daughter said they weighed “about 300 pounds”.  Not from Home Depot; never seen any that large before.)  She had already dug out holes for them.

When I got there they had dug out the patio area, 16’x28’, edged it with two-by-fours, put in a gravel base and metal reinforcement screens.  It patio 046was divided into three pouring sections.  We all watched a few youtube videos on how to do it, and rented the tools that morning.

Three of the men started pushing wheelbarrows full of concrete.  Alissa and one of the guys spread it.  Then the screeding.  (Do patio 049not pour it one inch higher than the boards, as recommended in one video.)

After that, sections two and three.  (My job was to keep the children and animals inside, with an occasional foray to the yard for photographs.)patio 068
patio 052patio 065broomNext the float was used, with my daughter doing hand trowel work where needed.  Just a short pizza break,  and back to work.  (Daylight savings time meant that they could work ‘til almost nine.)

Alissa wanted a broom finish, so that was done.  For control joints, it was patio 081patio 080recommended that they be done the next day with a concrete saw.

The finale for the day was handprints.

The next evening we patio 082patio 084patio 083patio 004dropped chalk lines and Josh ran the concrete saw.  Unfortunately, the concrete wasn’t floated enough, not enough “cream” on the top, so Josh kept hitting rocks.  Took him over two hours to cut all of the control joints.  We kept the concrete moist.

patio 018The third day we removed the forms.  Voila!  A patio!(Ramada to come.)

My Own Yard

Back in Tucson, not doing a lot of yard work in the 105° temperature.  But my yard is awash in animals.  The doves (white-winged and mourning dove) seem to drink a lot of water, but there is enough for the mockingbird, numerous finches, cardinals, and the ash-throated flycatcher.  Have seen a silky flycatcher (Phainopepla) in the brush, but he doesn’t come for water.

A young rabbit hopped across the patio early Sunday morning, and later in the day a roadrunner followed the same path.

The deer were just beyond the fence this evening, but didn’t want to pose.

Think the quail have cleverly nested under the cover for my drip system, which has a hole on either end of exactly the right size.  Was fixing a drip problem in the garden, but when I started to wash off the shovel, out came a quail, squawking and fluttering.  Much better place than in the large planter on my deck, where one nested last year, and squawked at me whenever I had to water the plant.  Had to cover it with chicken wire so the cat didn’t get to it.

Latest reading

Just finished The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson.  The New York Times (where it is #11 on their Paperback Trade Fiction list) describes it as

A series of picaresque adventures, [where] a young North Korean navigates the country’s repressive hierarchy; a 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner.

According to Wikipedia,

The picaresque novel is a popular sub-genre of prose fiction which might sometimes be satirical and depicts, in realistic and often humorous detail, the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society.

Black humor, as in Voltaire’s Candide, where the characters Candide and his mentor, Pangloss, have horrible things happen to them as Pangloss intones that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”.  Some of the descriptions of North Korea’s gulags and tortures were a bit much for me; I had to put the book down occasionally as I feared nightmares.  But other than that, it is a page-turner, incredibly well written (obviously as it won the Pulitzer Prize), and an eye-opener to how horrible conditions are there.  (A Communist dictatorship where, as in Orwell’s  Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”)

You must read this interview with Johnson about his tour of North Korea,

A number of the events described in the novel are clearly inspired by true-life incidents. And Johnson jokes that he actually had to leave out some of the wackier actions of Kim Jong Il because they would have interfered with his novel’s essential believability.
http://bookpage.com/interview/pulling-back-the-curtain-on-north-korea

Desert Flowers and Yes, More Art

April 28, 2013

rabbits 001My rabbit friend has found a mate.  Interesting that they were pulling down creosote branches, probably to nibble the flowers.  Creosote has toxic roots to keep other plants away, when it rains it has a heavy scent, and the bush has medicinal properties, so strange that the blossoms would be tasty.  This link has some beautiful photos, and a few fascinating facts:

Creosote is the most drought-tolerant plant in North America. It can live with no rain at all for more than two years.
It clones itself. Using radiocarbon dating,  one shrub in the Sonoran desert near Yuma, Arizona is thought to be 18,000 years old.
1

rabbits 008The rabbits were also nibbling on my Mexican Primrose, which has bubbled over its allotted area.  (See his nose, dusted in pollen.)   They detected the snap of my camera when I sneaked out to the outdoor deck,mex primrose 014 however, and scurried out of the yard.  (I must learn to use that privacy option which eliminates the click.)

octopusThe octopus agaves in the neighborhood are flowering.  (See photo left.)  That dates the houses, as the plants live 10 to 15 years.  Unfortunately, the bloom means that they will soon die, and the professional gardeners will take them out, so that the tiny cactuses that spring up along the trunk from the flowers shall be buried in a landfill.cactus flower 001

cactus flowers 007

The prickly pear in my yard is blooming coral.  (See above.)  I also took photos of the yellow flowers on my neighbor’s purple prickly pear and an ocotillo down the street which is exploding in blossoms.cactus flowers 005

Tohono Chul

Friday evening went to the Tohono Chul gallery in the park for the opening of Metal, Stone & Wood.  A friend’s daughter, Kerstin Dale2, who is a Grand Canyon river guide in the summer and art instructor at Prescott College in the winter, was in the exhibit along with dozens of others, but her work stood out.kerstin  006

Kerstin Dale’s plywood sculptural works are translations of her concern for the ecological changes in the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, where she spends much of her time throughout the year.
“The Plywood Series is a reflection of the rich visual environment in the Desert Southwest, from the horizontal lines in the Painted Desert, to the bottom of the Grand Canyon where the Colorado River builds waves that crash and flow around rocks carving the canyon.  This environment is my home; each twist, bind, and layer of the plywood is a reflection of our precious land” -Kirstin Dale

kerstin  005

cactus flower 015I also liked this roadrunner skull carved in alabaster by Joe Lupiani3, who works in a wide variety of media.

1http://aneyefortexas.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/the-amazing-creosote-bush/
2http://kerstindale.com/home.html
3http://josephlupiani.com/

Peccaries and Plants

April 11, 2013

In the garden last weekend heard a rustle as a dozen javelinas (also know as peccaries) flowed past on the other side of the fence.  Had my usual chat with them.  Only one came near to listen, his nose wiggling like crazy.  (They can’t see well, so they depend on smell.)

Monday evening brought a strong windstorm, with lots of blowing sand and dust, hard on my coleus and basil (both with fragile leaves).  Also dropped the temperature quickly; I had gone outside in shorts and got a chill.  (But my daughter in Idaho said they got a dusting of snow and my friend in Denver said they got a few inches of snow, so having to put on long sleeves isn’t so bad.)

Wednesday, trash day, three javelinas had downed a neighbor’s trashcan and ignored my car as they enjoyed the bounty.  Glad it wasn’t mine – what a bother to clean up.  Yesterday a quail was in my vegetable patch – possibly looking for a safe place to nest?  It’s that time of the year.   Today a rabbit stopped outside my veggie patch, where I was working.  Not sure it froze to listen to my melodious voice – it probably just thought I wouldn’t see it if it stood still.

Scarface

scarfaceMy youngest grandson recently had a brief clash with a wrought-iron table, which he lost.  Rather glad my daughter, who is a nurse, and not I, was there to apply a pressure-bandage until they got him to the hospital.  He’s two.  (His forehead shown with 22 stitches.)

Remember my daughter having a bout with a 2×4 at that age that resulted in a gap in her forehead gushing blood.  Luckily one of the friends we had over was a dermatologist and he said that she didn’t need stitches as it was only an inch-long cut near the hairline.  But my mother couldn’t take all of the blood and left.

And my granddaughter, at the same age, put a few holes in her head, one when she fell backwards in Thailand, where she had to get the back of her head stitched up without anesthesia.

Latest Read
11.22.63

Finally
finished reading Stephen King’s novel, 11/22/63, all 849 pages of it, hardcover.  Did bog down a bit after about 600 pages – one subplot too many.  The main plot follows an English teacher time-traveling back to 1963 to prevent the assassination of Kennedy.   (Mentioned that I should read the book in a previous blog.1)  It’s what my mother would have called heavy reading, a tome that weighs too much to hold up in bed at night.  But if you have the muscle, and the perseverance, it’s a good book.  (Liked it better than his last scifi, Under the Dome.)

Lots about Lee Harvey Oswald that I didn’t previously know.  But also plenty about the late 50’s, early 60’s that I did know about.  I’ve heard white people reminiscing about that era being so great.  Or maybe that’s just white men reminiscing.  Not such a great time for women (June Cleaver vacuuming in pearls and high heels) or people of color.  King does a great job depicting the time.  Here is one section from the book:

And one more thing. In North Carolina, I stopped to gas up at a Humble Oil station, then walked around the corner to use the toilet. There were two doors and three signs. MEN was neatly stenciled over one door, LADIES over the other. The third sign was an arrow on a stick. It pointed toward the brush-covered slope behind the station. It said COLORED. Curious, I walked down the path, being careful to sidle at a couple of points where the oily, green-shading-to-maroon leaves of poison ivy were unmistakable. I hoped the dads and moms who might have led their children down to whatever facility waited below were able to identify those troublesome bushes for what they were, because in the late fifties most children wear short pants.

There was no facility. What I found at the end of the path was a narrow stream with a board laid across it on a couple of crumbling concrete posts. A man who had to urinate could just stand on the bank, unzip, and let fly. A woman could hold onto a bush (assuming it wasn’t poison ivy or poison oak) and squat. The board was what you sat on if you had to take a shit. Maybe in the pouring rain.

If I ever gave you the idea that 1958’s all Andy-n-Opie, remember the path, okay? The one lined with poison ivy. And the board over the stream.

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/time-travel-and-the-red-shoes/

 

A little bit of this, a little bit of that…

September 19, 2012

My yard

The rain lilies are finally recovering from the summer’s heat.  The grasshopper was among them.

This rabbit, lying in a patch of damp earth, was too hot to move, even when I went out the door.  The temps were back into triple digits today.  At 5:30 it’s just “cooled” down to 96°.

 

 

Jesus’ wife

The Da Vinci Code was right!  Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene!

A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …'” The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”1

This puts a hole in the Catholic Church’s contention that God told them that the Pope, cardinals, priests must be celibate as Jesus had been.  Guess they should add the Gospel of Mary to their bible too.2

Open mouth, insert foot

Do we need a president who talks first, thinks later?  Open mouth, insert foot.  Interesting talk Romney gave to Big Donors, and the resulting commentary in the attached link (see below).  From the video:

Who are the 47%? The New York Times’ David Brooks may very well have the best take on the Romney video from yesterday. In a column entitled “Thurston Howell Romney,” Brooks writes, “The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.” Brooks concludes with this biting line, “Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign.” Indeed, while nearly 47% of the country doesn’t pay federal income taxes, many of these folks DO pay payroll, state, and local taxes. What’s more, a lot of them are seniors, and most of them would never describe themselves as dependent on government even if they were.3

Paint

Paint cans rust, even when they’re in a desert!  My handyman was doing some touch-up painting outside (in preparation for my putting the house on the market again), and when he opened an old can, the pressure was released and the paint flowed out a rust spot in the bottom – all over the deck!  Boy, did he have to scramble to get it cleaned up!  I wasn’t even home to help with cleaning rags.

1http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49075679/ns/technology_and_science-the_new_york_times/#.UFjk44FnHTo

2http://gnosis.org/library/marygosp.htm

3http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/18/13937855-first-thoughts-romneys-brutal-last-three-weeks?lite

Photos

September 5, 2012

Finally figured out the close-up focus on my camera.  This lovely Western Spotted Orb weaver Spider off my patio.

The Giant Swallowtail butterfly (its wings the worse for wear) had flitted off the flower and was drinking water from the sprinkler.  (Click and you can see droplets of water on its eye, back, and wings.)

A Pearl Crescent butterfly was much smaller.

This praying mantis had been watching me.  He just turned away.

Missed the young coyote on my spa deck this morning – camera wouldn’t turn on.  Must remember to recharge the battery more often.  When I did get the camera on, the coyote had gone behind the wall to the front of the house.  I went upstairs but the front door made such a squeak , and he was so close, that he dashed off.  (Should have looked through the office window first!)

This rabbit was checking out my yard yesterday evening, no coyote in sight.

Double blooms

Did we always have plants blooming in the spring and fall?  My barrel cactus had recently blossomed, after the saguaro’s second flowering, and here is a photo of my neighbor’s barrel’s blooms (with a tiny bug on a bottom petal), which I can see from my office window.  And a photo of one of my red birds of paradise (with a tiny bug on a stamen).

The Rich

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. – Fitzgerald

 This kind of divisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history. We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business. – Romney at Otterbein University in Ohio

Gee, why didn’t I think of that? – Julian Castro

When a high school student in Youngstown asked him what he would do to make college more affordable for families like his, Governor Romney didn’t say anything about grants or loan programs that are critical to millions of students getting their education … He said ‘the best thing I can do for you is to tell you to shop around.’
I want to make sure everybody understands, not everybody has parents who have the money to loan. That may be news to some folks, but it’s the truth. – Obama at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio