Archive for the ‘Tucson’ Category

Tucson, Mid-July

July 10, 2017

It’s 110° and the clouds are building up over the mountains for our anticipated monsoons, but the humidity is only 9%, so guess it won’t rain tonight.  Yesterday evening had eight drops of rain on my kitchen window!

For the Fourth of July we had BBQ with another family (also with a grandmother included).  The family room had an enormous television on the entire time with a miscellaneous movie.  Some of the kids watched it for ten minutes or so.  The living room was taken up by a jumping castle, kinda like this one.  Six kids, from three to eleven, make an incredible din!

Dinner.  It was much too hot to eat outside so we adults got the dining room, the kids the breakfast room.  The father smokes his own pork, and the pulled pork was incredible delicious. (I didn’t try the ribs.)  My daughter made sangria and marvelous hors d’oeuvres (prosciutto spread with boursin, wrapped around asparagus), I brought watermelon with a cute sculpture on top (which I copied from an internet video, but it’s no longer there!) all of which the kids devoured, and there was coleslaw and a potato salad and a red-white-and-blue cake which I didn’t even taste, I was so full.

Then fireworks in the street.  (In Arizona you’re only allowed fireworks that stay on the ground, so sparklers and smoke bombs are popular.)  After which we drove to a school parking lot above Naranja Park, so we didn’t have to battle for parking, and watched the fireworks with about a dozen other clever families, all with camp chairs.

The coyote wandered by my fence yesterday afternoon, which is no doubt why the ground squirrels are not agilely climbing over my fence today to dine on the wandering jew, with mint for dessert.  (Oops – until just now!)

There was a cactus  longhorn beetle at my door yesterday.  Then are very large, and eat chollas and prickly pear cacti.

Had the grandsons (six and eight) over Friday afternoon, as the rental agency had a guy fixing the leak in the drip system. (! I thought I’d have to do it, so spent two days digging a hole to the PVC pipe in this hard hard dirt.)  The boys got into my games cabinet and I taught them pente, mastermind, and backgammon.  The youngest wants to play monopoly all of the time, but I’ve gotten tired of it.  We played battleship, jenga, and Jamaican-style dominoes at their house the other day.  (You can only spend so much time in the pool!)

Reading

To get my mind off politics, and instead of streaming any more TV series in the evening (except for binging on Anne With an E, and the movie Okja), had read a few scifi.  Got an audio book from the library, an oldie, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein (used to read a lot of his novels), about a lunar colony’s revolt against rule from Earth.  Interesting look at the future.  The guy who does the reading does the many accents very well.  I usually fell asleep to it, then had to figure where I left off.

Next read The Mote in God’s Eye, by Niven and Pournelle, about the first contact between humanity and an alien species.  Creative take on aliens (not limited to two arms and two legs, as the aliens in the “gateway drug”, Star Trek, which were restricted due to budget – except for the tribbles).  Heinlein described the story as “possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.”

Then I finally got A Man Called Ove,  an international bestseller, recently translated from Swedish, from the library as CD’s, as I enjoy someone reading to me at night.  Loved it!  Laughed and cried (numerous tissues).  Highly recommend it.  It’s now a movie, nominated for two Academy Awards, streaming on Netflix.  Wonder if I’d like that as much as the book…

The New York Times had an article, Summer Reading Books: The Ties That Bind Colleges (college-summer-reading), last Sunday.  Shall put a number of the recommended books (Just Mercy, Hillbilly Elegy, and possibly Silence, which is now a movie, as well as others) on my request list at the library after I get back from my next trip, visiting cousins in Colorado.

Politics

Speaking of which, also in the Times, was a commentary, The Problem With Participatory Democracy Is the Participants.  I was insulted.  You may wish to read it and comment: participatory-democracy

Back in The Heat

June 28, 2017

Seen Today

A quail with two young’uns crossing the road.  A ground squirrel climbing up the welded wire into my yard to break off pieces of my purple wandering jew; would have thought that it was poisonous. A pair of pyrrhuloxias on the fence.  (Photo of the ground squirrel on the other side of the fence with branch, and a pyrrhuloxia on the purple sweet potato vine.)

A gila woodpecker at the birdbath.  A dove on the barrel cactus eating the fruit.  A coyote behind my  yard chasing (unsuccessfully) the ground squirrels.  (Sorry – bad photo; he was moving fast.)  This hot (106° today) desert is home to many.  But the neighbor’s mesquite has rained seed pods all over; where are the javelina and deer who should be eating them?

My housesitter found a baby snake in the house (how did it get in?), said it refused to be caught, so she had to kill it and save its body for me.  It appears to be a baby kingsnake.

Missed so much last week!  Oro Valley police beat said that one woman was ticketed for illegally making a U-turn, and three teenagers were caught with a bong.

And hadn’t been watching the national news either.  Never heard of Kim Kardashian’s blackface controversy.  Nor of Randy Rainbow’s “Covfefe: The Broadway Medley.”  (He’s A Bit Much, but he has a nice voice, and you can google it.) Or that Jared Kushner finally speaks: Jared Kushner Speaks.

But yes, I do know that Bill Cosby got off, and that the Congressional Budget Office said of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 that The Senate bill would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million in 2026 relative to the number under current law.

(Have time to catch up on my blogs ’cause my daughter’s family is escaping the heat with another family in the White Mountains for a few days.)

On the Home Front

June 17, 2017

Okay – I haven’t done all of my Berlin blogs yet.  In the middle of Day 4, but took my granddaughter (11) to see Wonder Woman this afternoon.  Interesting comment on our warlike society (WWI).  At the age of 20, Israeli star Gal Godot served for two years as an enlisted soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, serving as a combat trainer. She learned to stop bullets with her wrists, to throw tanks, and to leap tall buildings in a single bound (with more panache – and less clothes – than Superman).  2 hours 20 minutes.

When I returned from my trip the garden was going crazy!  Kinda like jungle vines in horror movies that creep through your window and strangle you at night.  Then a wind downed the tomatoes, cages and all.  Lost a few cherries.  Had to put nails in the wall to attach them.  Many squash.  Am eating two tomatoes a day to keep up.

Heard some chirping in the garden this morning and when I went to check it out, a cardinal flew off with one of my cherry tomatoes.  Didn’t know they ate them but the internet said they do in dry conditions.  As in any time in Tucson.  104° today, but 113° by Monday.  Good time to be leaving for northern California, as in tomorrow morning.

I mentioned the second set of dove chicks in this blog, The Garden.  Went to clean out the nest when I returned to town, but the dove was starting a new brood!  Reminds me of my maternal grandmother, who had 11 kids (and then her husband died).  But yesterday morning, when I was out back in my yukata, two men walked into the yard!  Turns out the owner has a contract for them to “clean” the yard every 6 weeks.  (I was only there at that time of day because after two day of sitting for my three grandkids, I was too tired to go to exercise class!) The foreman was surprised how well the garden was doing.  Not sure the previous renters watered or trimmed anything.

“Cleaning” seems to consist of blowing all of the dead leaves into a corner, with the deafening noise of a plane taking off, then raking them up and taking them away.  All windows are then covered in tiny leaf pieces.  Plus (as the dove had flown in fright), they blew leaves off the top of the wall, and one of the dove eggs was blown from the nest, broken on the brick patio.  I did ask the foreman to trim a couple of rangy Texas rangers that I hadn’t gotten to before the heat hit.  And they carted off the 8-foot-long branch that I had sawn off the palo verde, but then had no energy to saw in thirds for the trash.  (However, I think that I may decline this service from now on.)

 

The Garden

May 25, 2017

My tiny vegetable garden is very happy with being watered twice a day.  There are three tomato plants (closeups of the large tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes, which will no doubt ripen when I’m in Berlin next week; the housesitter can enjoy them) and an eggplant in the back.  The cucumber and squash vines completely cover the carrots (which take a long time to grow) and spinach (from which I’m harvesting the largest leaves, leaving the plants to continue producing.  Yesterday I got half a bag for a salad.)  One spinach leaf had a caterpillar encased in what looked like plexiglass on a leaf; I moved that leaf to another part of the yard in case it becomes a beautiful butterfly.

My neighbor was out the other morning (in short shorts – and she’s older than I am!) taking photos of her blooms.  The red birds of paradise (the left is hers, the right is “mine”) look gorgeous, even in front of lavender Texas ranger flowers, about the shade of  “my” purple prickly pear cactus on the right.  But the star of the show was her night-blooming cereus, which hadn’t faded out yet, and blooms only once a year!

Amazing that some plants love the heat.  My bulbine frutescens (a plant from South Africa), sends out long stalks with tiny yellow flowers.

Must mention that I have another pair of mourning doves raising two chicks, farther down the wall from the last dove family.  One of the parents sits patiently on the nest as I water my potted plants under it, but the other flaps noisily out of the nest when I just open the back door!

Summer is here!

Yes, we had one day over 100° a few weeks ago, but yesterday it was 102°, and in another week the serious heat will start; the temps will no doubt be in the 100’s for months. The rest of you in the northern hemisphere may start summer on June 20, but we start with those 100° temperatures!

Looks like Berlin’s not going to be as cool as I had hoped.  (Going with the Contemporary Art Society – CAS – from the Tucson Museum of Art -TMA.)  However, my daughter got me a tiny umbrella (something we rarely use here in the desert) for Mother’s Day, which fits in my purse, so I’m set for Tuesday and Friday.

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: 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
    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: 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

In the Pink

April 21, 2017

Palo verdes are still flowering, but the desert ironwood (top) that I pass every day on my way to work or the Y is in gorgeous bloom.  And the almost-dead desert willow in my side yard, which I severely trimmed, with the help of my son-in-law and his chainsaw, is in bloom, although not as dramatic.

Critters

I love the view from my computer.

A common kingsnake just glided along my fence, on the inside.  Don’t know how it got in, but it kept testing the welded wire along the fence, so I figured it wanted to get out.  Opened the gate and edged it along with a rake handle.  It then slithered away into the desert in those S-shaped curves.  By the 4½ inches  between the posts, it appeared to be three feet long.

Yesterday it was a bobcat, a wriggling quail in its mouth, which stopped at my fence to peer in.  I did not go outside to take these photos, as it would have disappeared.  (The snake just became stationary.)  I had thought a couple of quail had nested under a huge Texas ranger in the side yard a week ago, as whenever I went out the gate, in a rapid flurry, one flew out.  But the next day it didn’t happen, and there were a few feathers about.  I couldn’t figure what had gotten the bird until I saw the bobcat.  It could have easily jumped the fence.

Taxes

I got some money back on my taxes – enough to pay the accountant!

But let’s consider tax reform.  How about if we had no deductions? (This list mostly from Five Tax Deductions that Favor the Rich1.)  No charitable-giving deduction.  If you want to give your Picasso to the art museum, do it, just don’t deduct it.  Same goes for your church, or UNICEF, or your kid’s school.  If you believe in it, donate to it.  (Bill and Melinda Gates do, although they have gotten a small tax break, they could probably do find without it.  From 1994 to 2006, Bill and Melinda gave the foundation more than $26 billion. Those donations resulted in a tax savings of less than 8.3 percent of the contributions they made over that time.2) Long-term capital gains, which derive from the sale of investments such as stocks and bonds held for more than a year, are taxed at 15 percent.  They should be taxed as part of your income.  Eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, which encourages people to scrape more of our biome (a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat) to build large houses, thus making our earth less habitable.  No deductions for children.  If people want to have children, they should pay for them.  The government already provides schools.  No deduction for yourself or whomever you care for, as head of household.

No

  • State sales taxes. …
  • Reinvested dividends. …
  • Out-of-pocket charitable contributions. …
  • Student loan interest paid by Mom and Dad. …
  • Moving expense to take first job. …
  • Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. …
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) …
  • State tax you paid last spring. …
  • Refinancing mortgage points. …
  • Jury pay paid to employer. …3

(I don’t consider tax-deferred retirement plans a deduction, as you end up having to pay tax on the money when you take it out.)

Then everyone who makes at least $31,200 (52 weeks of 40 hours at a logical minimum age of $15/ hr, married or not, old or young, dependents or not) pays 20%.

So for Trump’s 2005 return where

According to the Form 1040, Mr. Trump paid $36.6 million in federal income taxes on $152.7 million in reported income in 2005, or 24 percent…  Significantly helping matters back in 2005 was the fact he reported a $103.2 million loss that year…4

Without his deduction of losses, he’d pay on $152.7M + $103.2M = $255.9M, of which 20% is $51.18M.

Sure, that would hurt me.  I’d be paying almost 4 times what I paid, as an old person with deductions.  (But I wouldn’t have to pay an accountant.)  However, if that happened to everyone, we could take a bite out of the national debt, which is presently $20.1 trillion5.  Kay Bell in 8 tax breaks that cost Uncle Sam big money says that there’s a $4 trillion giveaway in tax breaks.6

I have a feeling that most of my friends will disagree with this proposal…

1http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2011/12/07/five-tax-deductions-that-favor-rich.html
2http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/General-Information/Foundation-FAQ
3https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Deductions-and-Credits/The-10-Most-Overlooked-Tax-Deductions/INF12062.html
4http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trumps-tax-return-leaked-rachel-maddow-what-accountants-think-alternative-minimum-tax/
5https://www.google.com/search?q=national+debt+today.&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
6http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/8-tax-breaks-cost-uncle-sam-big-money-1.aspx#ixzz4eqKyTARS

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…

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.

Weeds

March 18, 2017

My grandson was helping me pull weeds.  But Grandma, these have yellow flowers.  Why do we have to pull them?  The line between weeds and wildflowers is a wavy one, or maybe a dashed one.  Had to kill all of the weeds at my last house, then move into another rental house, 4.7 miles away, only to get a note from the HOA that we have to have all of our weeds pulled by April 1.  No fooling.


But speaking of wildflowers – while the east coast is covered in snow there is a spectacular wildflower display here in the desert wherever the housing developments haven’t scraped the ground and replaced the natural desert with a few trees, cacti, bushes trimmed into tight balls, and lots of gravel.  This photo from the Web of the flowers at Picacho Peak, where my daughter and family are camping for the weekend with the Boy Scouts, there to see the wildflowers and the reenactment of the Civil War battle at Picacho Peak.  (http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/picachopeak.html)  Unfortunately, the hot weather (it’s 92° right now, at 5pm) has also brought out the rattlesnakes, so she texted me that they’re leaving after the roasting of the marshmallows tonight.

Backstory

My life has gotten just a tad busier the beginning of February.

Did dislike the last rental.  January’s gas bill was $148!!!  The insulation was terrible, and, in the winter, it was cold downstairs, with drafts, and hot upstairs.  But good news – hah!  So many things had gone wrong with it (such as the heat going out four times in one year!) that they decided to sell.

My lease was up end of January,  then was on month-to-month, but four families had looked at it in the first week, so I figured I better find another rental as my son-in-law won’t finish his training (to be a hospital CFO) for another year, and when the hospital chain assigns him to a hospital somewhere, if it’s a nifty place, I may move there too, to be near the grandkids.  Another move!  Much harder than finding a place to buy, as rental agents “own” their own properties.  Thank goodness for the internet!

Online, looked at 50 (!) houses near here (which means near my daughter and my grandkids), and chose five.  One zapped me for having a cat, so I looked at four.  Found a smaller, less expensive rental (but with a view of the desert and mountains) west of the last house.  The people were moving out the middle of February, so I started packing, yet again.

Here’s a photo from my bedroom window, after I got all of the windows cleaned.  (Not as good as the professional photo above, but it is 5pm, with its long shadows.)


Was chest high in boxes on that first weekend and I was sore to the bone, double-popping ibuprofen.  In order to get my security deposit back, had to have the empty house clean, including the tops of the fans (ten feet up in the living room), the outdoor lights, garage, you name it.  And no weeds.  (This all in the lease that I had signed.)  Of course, we had had our winter rain, and then the temperatures soared into the 80’s.  Never saw so many weeds.  Too many too small to pull, even with my grandson’s small hands, so I had to resort to the dreaded poison.  (Sorry Mitch!  It was that v. $2200.)  My daughter, having never read Silent Spring, had a poison sprayer canister, which I borrowed.

Final inspection.  A woman came to spend an hour taking photos of everything with cabinets open, lights on. Then she gave the set to the rental agent (the fourth one I’ve had, and never met) and he would decide how much of the security deposit to return in two+ weeks (per contract).  The photographer called me the next day and said that they had just put a check in the mail for the entire security deposit.  Guess I overdid it!

Speaking of rental agents- I mentioned to my present one that the garbage disposal was backing up and she said she’d get back to me. Four days later and no return call to my message left, so I tried it when the dishwasher had filled up the sink, and it magically fixed itself. What a way to get things done…  (There’s an apocryphal story that Napoleon opened his mail about once a month. Why? Because if it was still important after a month, he attended to it; if not, one of his minions had dealt with it, or it was just junk mail.)

Too Much to Protest, Too Little Time

As I was packing, moving, unpacking, etc I was feeling very guilty about not having enough time to protest!  Sure, I had emailed my senators regarding Trump’s appointments, especially of Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos.  (See my blog from January: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/trumps-appointees/)  As if Flake and McCain care about my opinion.  But my rep is Tom O’Halleran, and he’s a Democrat, so no prob.  Next was the protest against Monsanto, which is building a huge greenhouse near here.  https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/monsanto/

Then I sent off an email to my governor because he…

 …defended state laws that let parents use public funds to send children to private and parochial schools.  But he sidestepped questions of whether he would sign legislation to open up that possibility to all 1.1 million public school students statewide.
http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/01/27/ducey-depends-using-public-funds-for-private-schools/

Unfortunately,

Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature are attempting to fast-track a plan to eventually offer vouchers to every public-school student and, in separate legislation, privatize oversight of the public money given to parents to pay private-school tuition and other expenses.

The Legislature is training its sights on the plan to broaden eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a school-choice program created six years ago for disabled children. Under the legislation, all of Arizona’s 1.1 million students would be eligible for the program by 2020.

Sen. Debbie Lesko, of Peoria, and Rep. John Allen, of Scottsdale, have introduced identical bills to expand the program in their chambers, a move intended to expedite passage. ESAs allow families to use public-school dollars on private-school tuition and other educational expenses.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/02/08/republicans-fast-track-school-voucher-bill-arizona-legislature/97572798/

As I had pointed out to my governor, private schools, including Catholic or Christian, are segregated – either by economic inequality (with shades of race discrimination) or by religion.  As Wikipedia points out,

Separation of church and state is a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson and others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Consequently, I believe that it is in our constitution that our taxes should not be used to fund private and parochial schools, and that includes the school tax credit, which comes out of our taxes.  But Arizona is a red state, so it’ll no doubt pass.

Zero to 1.34 Million

You must read Nicholas Kristof’s column from Sunday’s New York Times from a month ago, regarding Trump’s original travel ban:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/11/opinion/sunday/husbands-are-deadlier-than-terrorists.html

People’s Climate Movement April 29th

This was in my Sierra Club magazine:

Michael Brune on the People’s Climate Mobilization, Feb 24 2017

Two years ago, the first People’s Climate March took place on a crisp, blue-sky September day in Manhattan. An estimated 400,000 people, representing the full display of American diversity, were united in the same righteous purpose: to demand that our leaders act fast to address the climate crisis.

The day was filled with promise, and in the following years our enthusiasm was reciprocated with progress. The Paris Agreement. The Clean Power Plan. The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. We could say that, powered by a movement of millions, the United States was truly leading on climate.

Now the political landscape is different. Donald Trump’s election will upend U.S. climate policy. I doubt that many citizens voted for Trump because they were enthusiastic about his views on climate change, but that’s beside the point.

The Trump-Pence administration has no mandate to roll back environmental progress. Polling before the election showed that seven in 10 Americans agreed the government should do something about global warming. Polling after the election showed that 86 percent of voters—including three out of four of those who voted for Trump—support “action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy.”

… we can’t afford to underestimate the Trump administration. Unchecked, Donald Trump and Mike Pence are a threat to our climate and the civil rights and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution. This is a dangerous moment in U.S. history.

…If the Trump-Pence administration attempts to roll back the progress we’ve made in the past 50 years, we do not have to stand for it. Instead, we will stand up against it. We will march, organize, and keep marching—and we will not give up.

The Tucson march:


https://www.evensi.us/tucson-peoples-climate-march-el-presidio-plaza-park/202310124