Posts Tagged ‘Idaho’

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.

Pima College

June 2, 2013

A few of you have mentioned all of the horrible press that Pima has gotten recently regarding the chancellor “stepping down for health reasons”, the resignation of the interim chancellor, the school being put on probation for two years, the threat that it could lose its accreditation, the board firing its search firm for a new chancellor, and the call for the resignation of most of the board.   This from the Arizona Daily Star last month:

PCC’s problems ranged from corrupt contracting practices – in which executives knowingly broke rules to approve expensive, unbid contracts – to the board’s mishandling of sexual harassment complaints against former Chancellor Roy Flores, according to the report from a fact-finding team the accreditor sent to Tucson in January.

Flores and other senior officials – many of whom still work at PCC – created a “culture of fear and retribution” that fractured the school’s workforce, the report said.

PCC’s “dysfunctional” board failed for years to detect or act upon problems, it said.1

I do know the Chair of the Board of Governors and have a hard time believing the accusations against her.  It’s horrible; I hate to read the articles.  But I do my job (I’m on a 3-year grant, not actually employed by the college) and stay away from the controversy.

Chicken Plucking

Two weeks ago slept overnight at my cousin’s as I had an early flight from Phoenix to visit my daughter and grandkids in Idaho.   The tiny chicks that I had photographed in March2 had become chickens (fast!) ready for slaughter.  Thirty of the 32.  Asked my cousin how she plucked them all and she said that they bought a chicken plucker.  Check out this video3.  She said:

I wish I had realized they were wearing gloves. I cannot tell you how many times I nailed myself with those damn rubber fingers and they hurt! Notice also, they do not include the face of the person using it… and THAT’s because they’re getting a healthy splashing in the face. haha.  Oh dear… The feathers on the ground were also something we overlooked. We’ve still got quite a reminder to clean up back there.
We raised birds for 2 other folks. We got the lion’s share of course for doing the daily care and now have a freezer full of summer meat. We could not bring ourselves to grill it up right away since we were newbies. Too emotional a day for us. So we cleaned, packaged, shared and froze the rest! 5 went to one friend, 12 to another. That left us with 13 and 2 alive in the back that we chose to keep to see how big they’ll get and how long they’ll live without the intervention. We’re a curious lot, we are.

Her web site has an interesting commentary on the fast-growing Cornish Cross chickens.4


When I had been in Twin Falls during my spring break my daughter asked me to design a landscape plan for their “new” house, as the front and back yard were just large trees and lawn.  It was fun; I haven’t done any design work since I was laid off from Fluor four years ago.

beforeShe wanted half the grass removed for a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and play area for the kids, and a fence to keep the dogs from digging up the garden.  The back “patio” was a collection of two-foot-square concrete pavers,  sunk at different angles in the ground.  So she wanted them moved and a concrete patio with a pergola for vines to curl up (but that has changed to a ramada, for a covered eating area).

I did demo plans, hardscape and landscape plans front and back, a list of plants (after we had visited a nursery) and a cost estimate, based on numbers from the internet.  It was way over their budget.  I suggested that they do some of the work themselves.  I remember taking out one fourth of my front lawn in my first house in Tucson, to grow strawberries that the dog wouldn’t dig up.  She pointed out that she had a bad back (an occupational hazard for nurses), and her husband, Josh, was working 60-hour weeks with his new job.

patio 015But she started with the lawn and found it easy. Especially after she rented a sod cutter from Home Depot and Josh helped on the weekends.  Then she advertised free sod on some web site like Craig’s List and people took it away – no trip to the dump, no dump fees.  There had been concrete edging around non-existent flowers around the house which I suggested could be boundaries for the garden.  Luckily Josh could break it into sections at the joints.  The cute white-picket fence she wanted was too expensive, so I had recommended welded wire.  A neighbor with a wood shop helped them construct it, and a gate kit helped.

patio 014The play structure was also too much, and I mentioned that I had always thought about getting a row boat for the yard for her and her brother to play in, as a sandbox, but never got around to it.  She found a leaky metal one on Craig’s List for $1, and the neighbor across the street, who has a metal shop in his garage, drilled drainage holes before they added the sand.  The bark ground cover was the largest expense.  Wow, have they done a lot.  Next blog I’ll tell you about last month’s trip there, during my break between spring and summer sessions at Pima, and the patio pour.


Not often do I take the trips that the NY Times writes about in their travel section, but in just over a week I’ll be going to Venice for the art Biennale with the Contemporary Art Society of the Tucson Museum of Art (same group that I went to Cuba with last year.)  Will have lots to blog about after that!

Venice Biennale: This biennial exhibition, dedicated to chronicling contemporary art, opens June 1, with artists’ works showcased in pavilions divided according to country. Angola, Maldives and the Republic of Kosovo are among the 10 countries that will participate for the first time in the exhibition, which spreads across the Giardini Park and the winding galleries of the Arsenale.5


Twin Falls

March 21, 2013

I spent last week in Twin Falls, Idaho with my daughter’s family as I had a week off from teaching for spring break.

My oldest grandchild made immediate friends in first grade.  The middle child lucked out with one opening in the preschool.  (Kid had just left.)    And the one hospital has a nursing position for my daughter, but the the two youngest are back-listed for daycare.

The elementary school is two blocks in one direction, a lovely walk, and the preschool two blocks in a perpendicular direction.  The convenience of a small town!  (Population less than 45 thousand, quite a difference from the Phoenix Metro Area, from which they moved, of over 4 million.)

templeTwin Falls has a large Mormon Temple, pure white as they all are, with the angel Moroni blowing his trumpet on the top of the spire.  (Photo from the Net.)  At night the lighting is very dramatic; it looks like it’s covered in glowing snow.  Turns out my in my daughter’s neighborhood, their family and the elderly (= older than I am) couple across the street are the only non-Mormons.  Guess she shouldn’t have asked another mom out for coffee!  And they can’t invite anyone in for drinks.  Difficult crowd to crash.  But the nearby preschool and daycare are at a Lutheran church, so that should help them make friends.

Didn’t have my camera when we took an early-morning stroll through Rock Creek Park, a lovely grassy park along a small river, bounded by low cliffs, full of rock chucks (yellow-bellied marmots).  rock chuckLooked them up online (see photo) and discovered that a nearby Idaho town has Rock Chuck Derby where over 500 hunters try to kill the largest rock chuck they can.  Anyway, these cute critters were collecting grasses for their nests in the crevices of the rocky cliffs, in preparation for young ‘uns.

balance rockMy granddaughter skipped school one day to join us for a “hike” (which is more of an easy walk when you have a four- and two-year-old in tow) and picnic in Balance Rock Park.  I did take this photo of the “famous” balance rock.

Because the two dogs were with us the only wild creatures we saw were birds.  (Lots of pigeons – the cliffs just cooed – and two red-tailed hawks lifting on the thermals above the canyon.


When I left Twin on Sunday it was 33°, with a light dusting of snow.  Got off the plane in Phoenix, 83°.  Wildflowers in yellow and orange along I10 driving back to Tucson.  wildflowers 018Silverbell Road lined with feathery cassia blooming sulfur yellow.   Even the ocotillos were leafed out, many with their red tongues of flowers, even my own ocotillo, which had looked dead for the first two years.  My wildflowers have blue blossoms; my snaps are dance redstarting to open.

My arugula and mizuna (mustard greens) have bolted, so they’re a bit woody, so I must eat two salads a day to consume them.  My Phoenix cousin (who kept my car in Phoenix and drove me to and from the airport) gave me a bag of lemons from her tree.  Yum.  Have mad lemon cod dance blue(best recipe for cod, and so easy!), lemon rice pilaf, a lemon dressing for my salads, stir-fry lemon chicken, tilapia with lemon, lemon bread.

On Monday realized that the Art Museum architecture tour (which includes my house) will be Saturday!  Had been thinking that I had dance greenanother week.  Had my windows cleaned yesterday and the carpet cleaned today.  And have “Buddy”1 cleaning the floors.

Ordered my three Cuban Dancer canvases (red, blue,green, shown) online2,  unfortunately, too late to hang them for the tour.

Kate Breakey

kate1Yesterday evening went to a talk by Kate Breakey about her Creatures of Light and Darkness exhibit by Etherton Gallery, showing at the Temple Gallery.  Huge photographs (40” x 70”+) taken with a small motion-detecting infrared surveillance camera.  She sets up the camera in her desert yard on a rock, with bungee cords.  Once a week she takes out the chip and looks over the thousand photos to see if there are any good ones.  She said she bought her camera for $400 years ago, but it now sells for $200.  The internet has a variety from $50.

kate3Coyotes are shy of the tiny click.  Bobcats walk up to the camera and swat it with a paw, or urinate on it.  (Luckily it’s waterproof.)  Javelinas will nose it off the rock (resulting in the rest of the week’s photos of clouds).  At one point she had covered the camera with a box, thinking that it got too hot in the desert sun, and then the mice moved in with it.  Photos of them sleeping next to the camera (all fur).

Because the photos are heavily pixelated, she then paints over the animals, brush strokes of hair, to make them “pop out”.  I noticed that she has a tiny signature in the bottom right corner.  (The Net had said that photos are not signed, except maybe on the mat, but hers are more than photos.)

The photos sell at Etherton for $5,500 each.  But Kate said that printing and framing one costs $900 before she even starts to paint.  (So much for me blowing up one of my photos that large.)3