Sunday, March 30, 2008

A month in Tucson

Photography is my hobby, one I enjoy very much. After I have the photos though, then what do I do with them? Sharing adds to my enjoyment, and the internet makes that easier than ever with various photo programs. This link, A Month in Tucson, is an attempt to illustrate some of my recent time in Tucson.

To keep A Month in Tucson to a reasonable size, I created two other Flickr sets-- Desert in Bloom and Desert Wildlife. Together, they give a snippet of what it is like to spend a month at Casa Espiritu (what I call the desert house).

The photos can only show some of what I experienced on this trip-- hiking, photography, watching the wildlife, some of the art, wildflowers, a couple of movies (although most in that photo I didn't get around to seeing yet), petroglyphs, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, painting, writing, with plenty of time to just be.

While in Tucson I did something I haven't done for a year and a half-- made an appointment at a salon for a permanent and haircut which not only left my hair curlier, but also removed the last of the dyed ends. The photos in the bright sunlight kept amazing me with how silver my hair looked -- in the front anyway. Like who is that? Oh, it's me. I like it though. It feels right for who I am today.

My personal month was overall good with some hard stretches. It was a time of some solitude and loneliness, which sometimes, is important to experience. It was also a time to feel some depression (a few anxiety attacks) but that also is part of fully living life for me. What is-- is. I had alone time for creativity, to evaluate myself, where I am, making some plans for where I want to be, but mostly it was a time to enjoy the desert and all it offers. For that, I didn't even have to leave the house and little acre of ground.

So when you have time, click on the above link for a small piece of the Arizona-Sonora Desert and a few of its many diverse elements.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Politics and Sex

Before I post the last of the Arizona desert posts, I decided to cover one more aspect of sexuality and the United States as it seems to fit with the last post (about which most commenters disagreed with me which I think can be good when it puts out both sides of an issue). Anyway, let's see if that happens on this one too.

In listening to the talking heads this week, a question was being asked: should someone who is involved in sexual immorality be removed from political office? If a potential candidate knows they have had or are having an adulterous affair, should they not enter politics at all? Surprisingly, to me, the answer seemed to be that sexual morality should be a major criteria for choosing political leaders.

The issue is not whether someone like Spitzer, who committed an illegal act, a crime he had been vigorously enforcing, should be removed from office. Serious legal issues are usually cause for removing a leader; but the question is about something that is not illegal in most states (although it is in a few) i.e. adultery.

It's interesting where our concepts of monogamy even came from, but I think it has to be religion which serves a deeper cultural need. We are not the only mostly monogamous animals, but we are the only ones (of which I can think) where it is important to the community at large that faithfulness be enforced. Around the world and in some states in the USA, there are still criminal penalties for marital unfaithfulness-- Wikepedia.

What makes it so important to the community at large that married couples be monogamous? Serial monogamy is acceptable (if not preferred) but anything else is definitely not okay with Americans and really much of the world.

Is it important to you to be sure your candidate has never committed adultery? If (like newly appointed New York Governor Patterson) the husband and wife have worked this out and are in agreement, would it still be a factor in your decision in the voting booth?

Looking at our current political slate, of those most likely to be president, all have gossip swirling around that they may have had at least one affair. Would it impact your vote in November if a candidate you had preferred turned out to be an adulterer?

It's interesting to consider as there have been very few presidents in our United States history who were totally monogamous. Does being sexually immoral mean the person is less effective as a leader? Or put another way, what is it about someone being sexually pure that would make them a better leader? Hidden sexual relationships have risks for sure in terms of blackmail but putting that aside, should it matter? Does it matter? And if it does, why? Going along with this is the question: would you vote for a gay even if they were in a monogamous relationship?

On one of the talk shows I heard the answer that 'unfaithfulness' mattered because it meant the person would have had to lie to their spouse which means they will not be trustworthy in anything else. Okay, maybe so (although not sure I go with that theory), but what if the couple had an arranged, non-monogamous marriage, would that still make either persona non grata as a leader? My best guess is to most voters, that would even be more suspect. There is something about happily ever after (and not of same-sex couples) that seems to carry over into the voting booths.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

sex sells

We in the United States live in a rather odd country for how it sees things. On the one hand, sexuality sells everything from toothpaste to Viagra but on the other hand, it's suspect and a danger to the whole society.

The latest imbroglio is about a soon to be published Vogue cover. If you haven't seen it, and you probably have as it's everywhere, it depicts top basketball player, James LeBron and supermodel Gisele Bundchen posed in a way that shouts strongest man wins most beautiful woman. His expression is-- I've got her, you wanted her; while she lies back in his arms, with a smile that says-- I've got him, you wanted him!

There would be no story if that was what it said to everyone; instead, some have compared this photo to the movie King Kong (and seem to have forgotten the story as the heroine was definitely more attracted to Kong than the supposed hero).

The outcry has been that this plays to our worst stereotypes. It does? To whom? Maybe someone who has racial stereotypes on the brain. Sports hero gets hot babe is racial? Since when?

I will agree with the doubtful question of what does this Annie Leibovitz photo actually illustrate about shapes (which is what the inside is supposedly about)? True, it does illustrate men and women come in different shapes and says it rather well-- viva la difference. But the cover wasn't chosen because of that. It's there because sex sells, and this is a sexy, mythic, fantasy oriented cover. I also think it's beautiful. But it wouldn't convince me to buy the magazine. To do that, they'd need to reverse it with maybe Queen Latifah and David Bowie on her lap. That might do it *s*

In the meantime, less hypocrisy, please. If that cover had Tom Brady holding her with a triumphant yell of pure male adrenaline, nobody would have said a thing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Desert in Bloom

Back home on the Oregon farm, with so many photos to sort through, I began to get a case of can't-do-it-itis. I mean a few don't tell the story which is flowers everywhere in color combinations that you swear someone must have planted them with how complementary colors grow together.

When in the desert, the ideal way to see the flowers is head for a gravel road or trail head; then you are free to go slow, watch, sometimes walk down dry washes and look for bits of colors. Sometimes they leap out at you and it requires no search. Always keep your eyes open for snakes which you will almost never see, but it still would be a nasty surprise (for you and the snake) to step on one sunning. Also don't carelessly lift rocks with bare hands as one of the few potentially deadly scorpions is in Arizona.

Some flowers appear in big showy displays. Others are smaller, hidden under palo verde or mesquite trees. All are worth seeing. The experience of being on that kind of gravel road reminds me of driving in Yellowstone Park where you also see cars stopped so you stop also to see what wild animal they are watching-- except this time it will be flowers.

In one case, I saw the first blooming cactus-- for us anyway. We stopped the car as soon as we saw a wide enough place. I got out to walk back for the photo-op and walked right by it the first time. Returning, I went a lot slower. The cactus was very close to the road but easily missed. In a few more days, it would not be missed as it was full of buds. After we had taken a lot of pictures, another car came along, and we pointed to the cactus.

For us, it was one of many such opportunities, over many years, although this was the best display since 1998, or so the papers said, and I believed them. The rains came perfectly and the flowers were spectacular-- some varieties I had never seen.

Since you cannot all drive down that gravel road to see the flowers, I wasn't sure how to show their photos here. Picasa was one option but it appears to only download 5 photos at a time. Flicka had an advantage since I already had paid for a membership there. Even better, it offers a desktop feature that allows drop and drag to add many photos to an album.

If you are a flower lover, click on the link: Desert in Bloom. I do know a few of their commonly known names, fairy duster, desert mallow, brittlebush, desert lupine, etc. but didn't take the time to label them yet because it's not really about what they are called when you are driving down that travel road or stopping along a trail.

If someday I find an easy to use site that allows music, I would probably give it a try. I'd have loved to play something from Enigma to accompany these flowers. If you have an album you really like, you might put it on before you start the slide show. Flowers and music seem to go together.

(All photos here and on the Flickr link, Desert in Bloom, were taken March 17-18, 2008, on the west side of Tucson in Saguaro National Park, a small part of the Arizona-Sonoran Desert. Every time I hike or drive in such places, I appreciate anew the earlier generations who unselfishly set them aside for everybody to enjoy. We should be so unselfish.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Moon over Tucson

Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows I have a thing about full moons. We just experienced an Equinox full moon sometimes called the Awakening Moon for it being the beginning of spring.

It was during a full moon and an eclipse that I had traveled to Tucson; and there I was, about to leave, with the Equinox and the moon nearly full again.

Could I miss the opportunity to see it rise from one of my favorite desert canyon trails? I didn't plan this opportunity but am never one to pass up what fate hands me.

We had walked about a mile, half the trail, when we stopped to wait at a high point for the moon to come over the ridge. It was right at sunset which made the light rich and appropriate for welcoming the first spring full moon.

Doing this also meant we would be one of the last ones off the trails, but it was worth a little nervousness on finishing the hike nearly in the dark to see that full moon with the canyon, stream, mountain, and cactus.

I not only waded the stream but took a moment to dip my hands into the stream to baptize myself with the water and the power of the moment.

"And the moon shines high over Tucson
Over waters that were long ago dried
Cause the moon don't care if the water's not there
It still tries
It calls to the water and it calls to the land
It calls to the hearts of women and men"

lyrics from Carrie Newcomer's 'Moon over Tucson' on one of my favorite albums 'Betty's Diner- Best of Carrie Newcomer.'

These are the times I most value having a blog-- a place I can share my experience.

Photos taken March 19, just before the spring Equinox, on Tucson's Canyon Loop Trail as the moon rose and the sun set.

I am back in Oregon but the next set of photos will be a few (the difficulty is getting it down to a few) of the many wildflowers from the Sonoran Desert's spectacular spring.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Religions and cults

When visiting Tucson, I almost always make one trip south of town to San Xavier del Bac, the White Dove of the Desert. It was a mission church built in the 1700s when Father Kino came to this area and built this mission (using Native American labor). The church tower was not finished to avoid paying taxes to Rome. It still has regular masses and serves the people of the Tohono O'odham as well as any who come with spiritual needs.

One year, I lit a candle (many years after having left the Catholic Church) near the figure of St. Francis asking that my daughter's pregnancy would go well and her baby be born healthy. She had been bleeding too much, did not feel well, and the baby was not due for 5 more months. Although I am not religious, as such, I am a mystic and I felt there was power in this place.

That same week, my daughter began to feel better. Was it due to a candle lit near Saint Francis's figure? Was I wrong to feel this area had a sacred power? I cannot say but she bore a healthy son in July; and the next year, I lit a candle of thanks. I have never pinned a request on the cloth covering the symbolic figure but always look at them with respect and an understanding of the hopes or gratitude that they represent.

In the small chapel alongside the church, a vandal, angry at the church, at god, at who knows what, came in and smashed all of the figures there. There were some beautiful small sculptures, very old, gifted by various families. The chapel is where there are relics from two saints buried in the floor. The community heartbreak over the assault on religious belief was widespread. The religious figurines were replaced with new ones, but vandalism returned this year to attack a small shrine on the side of the hill above the church. The anger again went deep and seemed pointless.

The ground on which San Xavier stands was a Tohono O'odham ceremonial place. Often churches have been built on land that already had been deemed sacred. Was this to break the traditions of the people who lived there or a recognition of the existing sacredness?

I write about this because of the recent religious accusations being heaved against Barack Obama. His church has been referred to as a cult because its pastor, Reverend Wright, has made some condemning remarks about America's racist past, throwing out wild accusations that America created AIDS to destroy the black man. Some people panicked, the same ones who didn't panic because Bush or McCain paid homage to Pat Robertson or went respectfully to Bob Jones University, pastors who have said equally ridiculous things for instance that Katrina was punishment for America tolerating homosexuality or abortion.

Because of this pastor's comments, a few out of many sermons, there are those who ignore everything Barack Obama has said himself, and instead believe he's a puppet in the hands of this pastor, who he had said did lead him to religion, married him and baptized his children, who was like an uncle to the family.

It doesn't take much to make some people fear that someone of another race is different than them, and that the stranger is somehow susceptible in a way that they would not be themselves. To them Obama has been in a racist cult. By this thinking, anyone in any church is responsible for what their pastor teaches and might be considered a pawn of that religious leader.

So the sacredness that I feel when I enter San Xavier has to be held in context of all the right or wrong things that have been taught and done by the Catholic Church? Where do we consider something a cult and where it is simply a church that we attend which we may go home and bitch over what was taught that Sunday but keep going back because we love the community and what it is doing overall?

Having left two churches over doctrinal differences, over my own feeling I didn't want to be in a church that taught what I considered to be wrong spiritually, I definitely understand the price you pay for such leaving. You lose community. I left (and not as soon as I realized the problem) because I felt it was the right thing for me to do, but I know a lot of good people who stayed because they felt it was the right thing for them to do. To them, pastors come and go, but community remains. I don't think either of us are wrong. We did what we felt was right.

Being in a church does not require you believe every word of the pastor. That belongs to the world of cults and churches are not all cults. When people look beyond the pastor's words and believe he has a good heart, they may overlook the fact that he seems to have missed the point of the scriptures. I have several old pastors who have been dear to me, but I sure don't think they are right in how they interpret spirituality.

In the case of Obama, people should read his own words in his books, his speeches and see what he believes. And keep in mind two things. One that Bill Clinton, when he was supposedly suffering from sexual addiction, chose Reverend Wright as one of the pastors he asked for spiritual counseling.

The other is this door. It's to San Xavier, but many people regard church as the door to God, to spiritual truth. I might not agree with them, but do understand how they might feel.

(San Xavier is being repaired and that's why screening over half of it. Photos from March 18)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bobcat and some politics

Earlier, I mentioned seeing the bobcat one morning as she appeared to be running home to the wash just after first light. When my husband was flying back down, I reminded him to bring the wildlife camera. It's an inexpensive camera that hunters use, triggered by motion which we bought thinking it'd be fun to see what's out around the farm where we are not. We haven't used it much there, but we thought it'd be interesting to see what is out here... at night.

The surprise came not from getting a photo of the bobcat, but when and where-- right off the patio, strolling past with no concern, and middle of the day right after we had left to go to the store. Very neat but also makes me aware that I need to be watchful (which I always am down here) when I go outside. I have seen the coyote right near the patio, but it hasn't come when the camera was set up or else it triggered it and left too fast.

Bobcats are common down here and not dangerous to humans unless they are rabid. Tucson has had several attacks in the last couple of years-- one on a golf course and one a couple unloading their groceries from their automobile. The rabies shots would be the worst part of that experience.

I was asked what I thought about Obama's speech. Reading the papers online, right wing think it was no big deal, too little, and too late. Left wing think it's the best speech they heard in their lifetime. Nothing new in any of that.

For me, I think he's an example of the kind of leadership we need. He's right about our racial history, the racial issues with which we still suffer, and it's hard to say if we are past it and at a point where we can see him as just a man who has the right temperament, positions, and experiences to be a gifted leader. It would be as wrong to vote for him for racial healing as it would be to vote for Hillary for gender justice. We have to get to where we can listen to these people, judge their actions, and vote not just for what it will get us but what we believe it will get the country.

This situation with the economy is something that could turn the whole country (and it's not just us but a worldwide issue) upside down. Suppose we are heading for a depression? Who will best lead us in a situation like that where people need to rebuild confidence in their system? Stock markets today are not just for the rich but also most people's entire pension systems. Will the next president be someone who is only interested in war as a solution? Someone who thinks that tax cuts solve everything? Someone who will do anything to win? Or will it be someone who can inspire us to change what must be changed for the good of us all?

After seven years of George Bush in leadership, I have no idea in how good the American people are in judging any of it. I just hope voters do vote using logic, not emotion nor religious zealotry. That they don't panic over the economic turmoil that looks likely to come. We are a strong people; but if we listen to that small inner voice (read last blog) and it's coming from the wrong place, if it doesn't fit with what is also logic and genuine love, we are in big trouble. It does not bother me that Obama, Hillary and McCain might all be Christians but it's not a reason to vote for them either.

I like this last image of the bobcat leaving. Kind of says a lot if you have a sense of humor.

Monday, March 17, 2008

So Whose Voice Is It?

Having just finished Jon Krakauer's book, Under the Banner of Heaven, I have done some thinking about spirituality. Add to it the religious supporters of both Obama and McCain with their own odd takes on religious responsibility and this is quite a time for questioning what religion does. Frankly right now, I would be more comfortable voting for an atheist than anybody from any fundamentalist religion.

Obama has been under pressure because his pastor of many years said some things that most Americans would find offensive. Obama says he also finds them repugnant. The question logically asked then is-- weren't you listening? Then there is the supporter of McCain who believes Christianity's goal is to destroy Islam, a statement which has recently received less play because of the big news centering on Reverend Wright and his possibly damaging Obama's political run-- if the media dwelling on this long enough can make the story take hold. At least maybe now people won't be worried Obama is a Muslim... not that it should matter.

What should matter is religious fundamentalism, and it's what Krakauer's book explores using the Mormon Church. People are in religions because of questions about what is out there. Why are we here? Religions usually explain that and then tell us what we are supposed to do about it. George Bush said he was told by god to run for president. He also said he got his advice from his father in heaven, not his earthly father. To whom was he listening?

Krakauer's non-fiction story blends together the past with the present. Yes, it uses the Mormon church to show how religions develop, how they impact people's decisions, but it could be ANY fundamentalist religion. It illustrates how blind faith (something many churches praise and demand) can destroy lives.

Krakauer received criticism from the Mormon hierarchy for his book as they accused him of religious bigotry, distorting facts, etc etc. Their response was the norm when any religion is explored for its history, its pluses and minuses. Most religions have the potential to be misused by those who promote violence. Even Christianity with its Jesus, who taught love, also has the passage where he tells his followers to pick up their swords when he is gone-- and there have been plenty who have done just that.

What makes Krakauer's book so powerful is how it explores Mormonism's foundation, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, the original teachings, fundamentalist polygamist cults, while telling the story of a double murder committed in the 1980s that used the philosophy of a religion as justification-- in fact a demand that murder be done in the name of god.

The story switches between the Mormon history, modern Mormon fundamentalist cult leaders, two brothers who committed murder using the excuse of prophecy and their own supposed ability to directly communicate with god, and the author and his exploring of these issues. While Mormonism is the vehicle, the book is really about faith without logic, in whatever form you find it.

Most of the history of Mormonism, I knew. Details I learned. When my husband and I were first married, we were exploring Catholicism and Mormonism at the same time. We would go the Catholic priest's office to discuss Catholic doctrine and then have a Mormon couple come to the house to give us a lesson each week on Mormonism.

How that came about is I'd had a young woman come to the house who was selling Avon. She and I began discussing religion; and although she was fallen away from Mormonism at the time, she thought highly of it, and introduced us to the couple who came to give us instruction. So I would read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, while attending Mass, studying the Catholic catechism, and trying to decide if it was Mormonism or Catholicism that was the one true church today. At that point in my life, having grown up with no religion, finding the one true religion seemed important to me.

Although I had learned quite a bit about Mormonism before rejecting it for my own faith, I didn't know as much as I do now about modern day Mormon fundamentalist offshoots. I didn't realize how many secret (and otherwise) polygamy cults there are nor how damaging they are to children as they appear to be mostly intended to give older men their pick of teen-age girls.

These fundamentalist cults are not part of the Church of Latter Day Saints, but they believe they are the true descendants of Joseph Smith. They also believe that if Mormonism became the dominant religion in this country, which as it's growing so fast is possible, that it will once again legalize polygamy which is supposedly the one true way to live spiritually. I would have thought polygamy is about three or more adults who agree to be married (which would mean a woman could have two husbands also), but it isn't how it's practiced in these cults nor how Joseph Smith or the original leaders of the church taught it.

The book is a fast read but its ideas won't leave you when you finish the last page. If like me, you believe you have heard that small, still voice-- whose was it?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Quail, Bunnies and Javelina

Just after first light, as I open the blind, I see an animal out beyond the cactus. The way it leaps through the air as it runs, it might be the bobcat I was told had three kittens here this winter. If so, she is going home to the wash after perhaps a night of hunting. Her hoped for meal would be the birds and bunnies I see every day at the quail block. I guess I am helping her as well as them, but the thought is a little unpleasant.

I wrote about this last year as the desert always reminds me of the relationship between Predator or Prey. It is all part of nature but still hard to accept as not being harsh and cruel. It makes me think of the scene in the movie, Madagascar, where the zoo raised animals come to see the reality of what the wild actually means.

Sometimes I see coyotes at our little watering pool (created by a prior owner but maintained by us whenever we can keep the water running). I like to have a source of water that protects the small ones from going to the swimming pool to get their drink and drowning. I also enjoy seeing the animals use it. This morning when I went outside to put the seed block back on the ground (didn't want the javelina devouring it all at night), I interrupted a bird bath and early breakfast with a mix of bunnies and many types of birds. It sounded and looked like a scene from a Disney movie.

At the seed block, I watch many types of birds, rodents, rabbits, and lizards all coming most of the time peacefully to find seeds that suit them. The desert, however, is a harsh land, and even within animals of the same species there are pecking orders and angry disagreements as one chases another off.

Desert Cottontails seem so gentle, the very example of peace loving animals, but in reality rabbits can be vicious and you see it on some of their faces as you take time to watch them interact with each other. Joey chases off Fuzzy (no I don't recognize them all by now but it's an easier way to write this). Jessie waits until they have all finished to enter the dining room. Sam decides to take a chance and is beaten down. Some bunnies can eat together but not others.

What caused Flopsy to have one ear turn down? Was it birth defect, fight in the warren, a near miss with a hawk, coyote, javelina or the bobcat? Or can she sometimes put it up if she chooses? After what looked like some dominant rabbit displeasure, Flopsy was approved it eat at the block.

On another day, I saw a disagreement begin at the seed block. Brutus, who looked to be older and tougher, took offense at Carl daring to come to feed. Brutus may or may not already know how this works in nature. Perhaps at one time, he was the young one who overtook an older one. He won't let that happen any sooner than he must; so he scares off potential competition while he still can.

Carl, perhaps not quite aware of the rules, appeared to hope to get breakfast and avoid trouble. The action then came so fast that all I was able to shoot were blurred photos as Brutus chased and took down Carl. I debated a bit, could it be mating-- animals have odd mating behaviors sometimes, but no, this was for blood.

Great wildlife observer that I am, I didn't want one rabbit to be badly hurt; so compromised-- got three quick photos, then broke it up. When all three shots ended up out of focus, I regretted my humanitarian impulse. Of course, since I brought the temptation into the yard, I have to have some responsibility for the fight-- not that it couldn't happen anyway over females, warrens, or territory (Ever read Watership Down by Richard Adams?).

We humans like to see ourselves as the superior animals, but in reality, a lot of our natural instincts are animal; and we, through religions, socialization training, sometimes suppress them-- and sometimes not.

The Gambel's Quail come most often in pairs although sometimes coveys. They are flighty, watch all the time, but still squabble over who gets to eat at the same time just like the other animals. They don't go for blood though in those squabbles. The most fun has been the years when they would come with a bunch of babies trailing behind except day after day there would be fewer of the little ones who were as yet unable to get up in a tree at night hence made a meal for a snake or other roaming predators.

Javelina, (pronounced have-uh-leena), also known as collared peccary, are biologically not considered to be pigs though they look like little pigs. In Arizona there is a hunting season for them (they average 30-60 lbs and stand 20" to 24" tall). A friend of mine, who is a hunter, told me that they taste like pork.

Javelina are not gentle. With their tusks, when they get the chance, they kill small animals and can rip open a human's leg (and will if startled). I treat them with some caution but do chase them off because they would sit at the quail block all day and keep away everything else. Eventually, I even resorted to an un-animal-loving thing and threw a rock toward them when my voice alone wouldn't do it. They were soon back. I don't mind their visits. I do mind them moving in because where they are, all other animals avoid.

This year I got many good shots of the javelina thanks to the telephoto. When I later looked at one such close-up, I noticed what looked like blood under its jaw. Possibly it had come across the kill of that bobcat, fought with another peccary, or perhaps one of the quail or bunnies ventured too close. Javelina can be very fast when they want to be.

Javelina would visit here whether there was a seed block or not as they eat our prickly pear cactus. Going outside in the morning I'll see bits dropped by the front door. All the cactus show big bite marks. Some people down here throw out scraps of food for them. Not smart given their nature, and I am looking for a bird feeder for the quail that will keep javelina from the block. Unfortunately that would also block the bunnies, but feeding any desert animal is probably a mistake as their numbers stay in balance when they have to manage on what the desert supplies for food. It's not an easy life.

I justify my interfering in their natural food chain by my pleasure in seeing them find food so easily, watching their joy in the bounty that is for awhile makes their life easier (?). I can't do it all the time, as I am not here, and that's probably good as it would upset the natural balance-- or would it increase the numbers of bobcats, coyotes and javelina? Having the seed block allows me to spy on their community in a way I would not be able to do any other way. Spider Woman seems to approve or at least she hasn't said quit it-- yet.

(I had sculpted Spider Woman in Oregon before we had this desert house. As soon as we had bought it, we knew she belonged here. She got her name from the Navajo traditions but also because one time I moved her to clean the pool and out from under ran an angry tarantula. I quickly put her back where she had been, not sure if that appeased the tarantula.

The problem with this post was too many photos and difficult to narrow it down to give a taste of what I see when I have time to spend, as I did this last trip, time to just be and observe.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bits of This and That

Having enjoyed it, I wouldn't want anyone to miss Camile Paglia's column in Salon. I liked her take on Hillary and the red phone but keep reading until you get to where she talks about women and what is sexy. To her, French women get it and Americans don't with the pumped up boobs and botoxed faces-- Camile Paglia.

Someone asked that I comment on Eliot Spitzer and his being caught up in a prostitution ring. I have several thoughts about it. One, I have voiced before. Prostitution between mature, of-age adults should be legal, licensed, and taxed like any other business. Why it is not is a mystery to me. There are health benefits in having it legal. It isn't going to go away. It's an odd concept that a woman can have sex with ten men in a night but if any of them paid, it's a crime. So what is the issue? Morals or money? This is part of our weird Puritanical thinking which never has made sense to me.

Kristof in the NYTimes made the opposite side of this cultural issue in terms of legalizing prostitution-- Kristof and he makes good points. The problem is none of it stops it. Nevada has legalized prostitution and it seems to work where there are houses that can be inspected, but they ban it in the big cities where I am sure girls still work the streets in the conditions he describes.

I don't disagree that prostitution is a horrible thing for a woman to have to do (or man), but the issue is if you can't stop it, what can you do about it? They have tried arresting the johns in some areas, as evidently Spitzer faces, but it doesn't end the practice. For the girls, it could be reduced by teaching values in the homes (a lot of them didn't have that kind of home), by educating women for jobs that pay a living wage, by helping abused girls to get back health self-attitudes, but those girls on the level that Spitzer was using were choosing it as a quick way to make money. They had other choices but chose that one. Should that be a crime? Why is it legal to have promiscuous sex but not legal if money exchanges hands?

In regards how Spitzer was caught, I have not been a fan of the government being permitted to check everyone's bank records, of banks having to notify the government if money over a certain amount is transferred without it being clear to them where it went. This is part of Big Brother Government and I have never liked it. Spitzer got caught on what they thought was a money laundering sting. Invasion of your privacy by government has been increasing since 9/11 with the excuse of terrorism but in reality it's mostly used for other crimes. Any large transfers of money can be delayed while banks notify the Federal Government. I know. It's all about catching bad guys but it is invasion of privacy and I don't like it being routinely done.

Spitzer himself is a hypocrite. It's so typical of the ones who yell the loudest about some moral issue but often are involved in it themselves. It seems most of the men who rise to higher office do have such secrets in their background. It's frustrating to me how so many in politics don't care if they are hypocrites. But so many people don't see themselves as they are but rather as some kind of inner vision tells them they are. The next thought is along that line.

George Bush's appearance before some group, where he did a song, wore a cowboy hat, and had his audience roaring in laughter as he sang about getting Scooter off from his criminal conviction and on and on. The performance was supposed to be private but ended up on MSNBC because someone in the audience had a phone to make a video. It shows the idiocy of this man who still has the power to get us into war with yet another country. He just managed to remove another of the generals who was standing in his way for attacking Iran. Something is very wrong with George Bush, but even more so of those who laugh at his antics and don't see that it's worse than the Emperor's New Clothes and they are part of it. It would just be ridiculous except for the people's lives being ruined, the huge debt being accumulated, the damage being done to our country. How does someone so divorce themselves from the horror of what is actually going on to enjoy ridiculing those who do care about it? It takes it being someone oblivious to their true nature.

I don't know what Geraldine Ferraro was thinking with her inane comment on how Obama is only having the success he is because he's black. So a charismatic, even tempered, youthful, enthusiastic, good looking, all-white male wouldn't end up one of the last two candidates in a major Democratic primary? Tell that to John Edwards who was in a very similar position in 2004. Ferraro is why I didn't vote for Walter Mondale when he chose her for his Veep in 1984. She has now decided she is the victim because someone called her on the illogic of what she was saying. How did she say the same thing many years ago when it was Jesse Jackson running and yet I didn't hear her voice it when it was Edwards. Could it be she does have some racism in her that she would even say such a thing? I don't know her but being a Democrat doesn't mean someone can't be a bigot secretly. Her way of thinking and talking is why so many, like myself, support someone we hope will see an end to this kind of old style politics-- and if one choice ends up wallowing in the mud with them, then we will be looking for someone else who can stay above it.

Originally I had intended to mix my desert dweller photos into this potpourri blog, but I have a few things I want to say about them. This post was timely for what is going on right now. They can wait a day or so and have their own blog (not that they'd care)-- javelina, quail and rabbits coming soon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Desert Gardens

Unfortunately as more people move to Tucson, more desert gets bulldozed, leaving a flat and easy surface for house building. People, who came here only for the sunshine, put up walls to protect their homes and yards from the desert itself. Homes don't have to be that way. They can be beautiful, provide privacy, and also provide shelter and food for the creatures that make this area their home-- if the yard around the home is left desert.

It's not hard to understand why some avoid desert plantings given they almost all have thorns or some kind of protective ouchies hard on tender skin. You do not wander carelessly through this kind of backyard. When you walk into it, you do so with eyes wide open and watching where you put your feet. If you have to handle any plant, you wear heavy gloves or long-handled clippers. Natural desert, however, doesn't need much water. Living, natural vegetation is better at holding the sand when the rains come heavily-- and they do come heavily. It also keeps the temperatures cooler than concrete.

Our yard, which you see in all these photos, is part of a small development where every house has an acre or two and they were built to give each other privacy. A few of the lots have been cleared-- horses are permitted here-- but most are like this one-- natural habitat.

When I go outside and sit on the patio, I can almost forget I am near a big town, nearly ignore the sounds of muffled traffic, and instead hear only the quail and other birds with their distinctive sounds as they flit from tree to tree and come down to the small watering hole or eat from the quail block.

Some of the cactus you see in these photos were probably planted by previous owners but most of it looks to have been natural. The trees are mesquite, palo verde and ironwood. In the recent drought, we lost some of the ironwood trees and it's their bare branches you see sticking up. Ironwood trees are gorgeous and have pink blossoms later in the spring. They have barbs as well as tiny slivers that while almost invisible are not going to be unfelt if you handle anything near it.

These photos were all taken in the backyard in the last day or two. It looks like there are no other homes nearby but if you look closely in some, you will see other roofs.

From the backyard, the purple mountain is Pusch Ridge at one end of the Catalina Mountains. it is about two or three miles away. Many of the bigger animals that visit this backyard, come down La Canada del Oro, a nearby wash, that reaches into the mountain. The small ones live nearby mostly in holes in the ground or nesting in trees at night.

The few plantings we have added to the natural desert are xeriscape, meaning needing little water. For the main part of the yard, it's more a case of stay out of the way because we could do nothing to improve on what it already is in terms of privacy and a relaxing place to sit and meditate.

A coming blog will be some of the critters who live or visit this piece of desert.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It can happen

Although I agree with some who have written how disillusioned they are with politics, I still believe there is hope-- even though some appear to see hope as a word that gets in the way of progress-- their progress, of course. They will be right if we all sit on our hands and do nothing. They will be right if we continue to allow deceit and lies to work. It does not have to be that way. Change can happen but how?

First it can happen because we vote for leaders based on character and their correct stand on issues that benefit the majority of people and the world. It can happen if we don't let ourselves be swayed immediately by every little thing and research out any accusations or claims. It can happen if we look at how leaders run the campaign intended to convince us to vote for them and realize it's how they will run the government if they gain power. It can happen if we volunteer, donate, and keep an eye on what all leaders (in either party) do after they get elected.

The kind of campaign someone runs says a lot about their character and how they will be as president. Obama has run one based on organizing the people, by getting small donors motivated, by doing ground work. Yes, he has charisma and gives good speeches (so did Bill Clinton), but it's more than that. It's his even temperament (usually-- nobody is a saint). It's how he thinks before he speaks. It's his background of living many places, of working in his local community as an organizer. It's how he doesn't allow himself to be thrown off message by trivial points and how he does respond to attacks as soon as he can. It's hard when those attacks come days ahead of an election and the lies continue to receive more traction than any retractions by those who put out the er mistakes...

Hillary Clinton's campaign has been the opposite. She uses her femaleness and then denies it matters in a leader. She hedges when someone asks if she believes Obama is a Muslim. She calls him some kind of pipe dream, talks dismissively as him being someone who hasn't been in Washington long enough to know how things run (does the fact that she does know bode well for real change or more of the same?). She and her campaign claim, and the newspapers jump on, that all his supporters are wide eyed, naive, ready to faint, and star struck. She claims widespread experience based on being married to a president and 7 years as a senator. She is now saying she was a factor in negotiating peace treaties around the world including Northern Ireland. [link: How those who did negotiate that peace feel about her claim]

She and her female supporters act as though misogyny has been as bad as slavery and the bigotry against a whole race based on color of skin. I am sorry, ladies, but there is no comparison between inequality and slavery; but neither are a reason to vote for someone for the highest office in this land. Hillary says again and again that it's time for women to get theirs. How dare she or any woman act as though a woman deserves the presidency because of what has happened to women in the past-- least of all Hillary Clinton! She is a woman who went to Harvard, who has had a privileged life, two high level careers, and she is owed something more?

Are women empathizing with her because she put up with a cheating husband? Is she somehow getting character points for that? There are women, who for economic reasons, stay in relationships that are not healthy but that was clearly not the case of Hillary Clinton. Continuing her marriage even when she knew Bill was cheating on her was within what I would call freedom of choice. Unlike some, I don't condemn her for staying; nor like others do I put a crown on her head for it. Did she continue because of love, a martyr's complex, did they secretly have an arranged marriage, or was he her path to power? Only she and maybe he know.

I have written about both of these candidates in my blog: Why not Billary and Barack Obama. In December when I wrote the one about Obama, I really thought that I could vote for Hillary if she got the nomination. After the campaign she has been running, my thinking has changed. (If anyone wants to read more of my ideas on this campaign, the candidates, check under the label politics.)

I understand that some far left Democrats won't like Obama because he's talking about working together to get things done (imagine that-- even corporations and foreign dictators), about getting past the partisan fighting (I imagine he's wondering how well that'll work after the last two weeks), about going forward without seeking revenge for the last 7 years, and about putting the best people into his cabinet even if they come from the opposition party. From what I can tell, for a lot of people, Hillary is all about payback. Revenge is a losing game. The only way to win is by looking ahead.

In my mind, ahead is a man like Barack Hussein Obama (that name is nothing to run from. It reflects a diverse background. It doesn't make someone Tom Cruise because their middle name is Tom). But he is not the man to vote for because he's half black. I don't believe, terrible as slavery and the ensuing bigotry has been (and still is), that blacks are owed our highest elected office either. Gender and color of skin are neither one a good reason to vote for (or against) someone. To his credit, Obama has not been running on his race (nor running from it). I support him not because of it but because I believe he is the right man for the job-- through temperament, his learning experiences, even some of his mistakes, his way of working with people, and through his goals.

It will be a shame if he loses because some are voting for a woman based on sympathy or identification because they are women and it's their turn-- whatever the heck that means. If it's based on her supposed great experience in governing perhaps it's time women do some research. Others have --[link: Chicago Tribune and Hillary's experience claims].

Admittedly, I wasn't a big fan of Hillary Clinton before this campaign began but I didn't see her as negatively as many claimed. I hadn't seen the side of her that I have now. In this campaign, I have watched her use lies, distort facts and say it all with a smile like a cherub, bobbing her head up and down, and expecting the women in her audience to cheer-- sickeningly (to me) a lot of them do. Why? Because she's one of them? Don't kid yourself.

Could she actually be laying the groundwork to see Obama lose if she can't get the nomination? What else can you make out of her saying (paraphrased) McCain has the experience, she has experience, and Obama has a speech he made in 2002? What was the reason for adding McCain to that mix except if she can't get it, she wants McCain to be president for the next four years. What kind of person does that? Someone who only cares about themselves and not the country, that's who.

In Clinton's speeches, she repeats how Obama has done nothing since he got to Washington and she says it all snidely. She waves her hands in the air and satirically puts down anyone who has agreed with anything Obama is saying. What I am seeing in Hillary is the flip side of Bush. It's ironic that when Democrats have it one of their own, they don't recognize it. This is the Hillary we will have once the election is over-- if she can really beat McCain.

Some specifics:[link: Did Clinton win Ohio on a lie?] This is just one of the pieces that looked into one of the last minute issues that may have turned some recent primaries. Out came a memo that looked like Obama says one thing in public and another in private. It now appears the man behind releasing the now acknowledged to be untrue memo (Obama didn't say any of it) may have been an associate of Mark Penn (Hillary's campaign manager) from the past. He had the connections to do it and the reason as he's a vocal Hillary supporter. It doesn't matter now that it was a lie and denied by the Canadian embassy because it came out so close to the election there was no time to prove or disprove it. Rovian tactics for sure.

And there has been those lies, repeated so much by the media that people believe them, that Obama has done nothing since he got to Washington four years ago. [link: Obama's bills]. Yes, these are not all bills he himself wrote or sponsored, but they have his name on them and for a freshman [link: Star Power vs Reality in the Senate], Obama has not sat in Washington and done nothing. He has a record from his years in state politics in Illinois. The people favoring him are not latte drinking and unrealistic. For a lot of us, I think it's not so much that he's the great hope but that he's the only hope for seeing real change. He is the only one talking about working together, about how the people have to do it, about changing the way it's been done for a new way.

This campaign for me has been so bad that when November comes, if Clinton is the candidate against McCain, I have decided to write in a name. I will vote but I will not vote for 4 more years of Bush deception and dirty tricks which either of those two (experienced in the ways of Washington) will deliver-- proven by their actions not their words.

I am very afraid that we get the government we deserve. The one we earn by being too lazy to look up the facts for ourselves. Polls tell us that people are swayed by every little thing that comes along because they never got grounded to begin.

Hillary's 3 AM ad evidently did persuade people that she was the one in a late night emergency. There are only two ways I can see that you could take that ad. In the first possibility it is saying a woman is the one to count on for wise, quick judgment in an emergency not any man. It's also a concerned mother overlooking the children, not a father. What that makes me wonder is who was the father of women who think that way, who were their brothers, their lovers, their husbands, their sons? It sure wasn't the kind of men I have had in my life. Maybe it was in Hillary's world. Is that a reason to assume it's true of all men? Is it a reason to vote for that woman? Think what that ad really says. Is this a war between women and men that never got settled? In the minds of many women is she not only campaigning against Republicans but also against men?

The other possibility for the 3 AM ad was to instill fear. Sleeping children, a worried mother and Hillary on the job. The whole thing was totally phony including Clinton answering it with her hair done and in a pantsuit. But it worked and so we will see more like it, I guess. Be scared. Be very scared and now with Bush no longer able to keep you safe only Hillary or McCain can do it. That's what she has just said and a segment of the American populace bought it.

Americans say they don't like those kind of tactics, but ads like it have always worked with enough voters to keep it coming back. It did with the Lyndon Johnson ad that showed a little girl playing with a mushroom cloud in the background intended to scare voters away from voting for Barry Goldwater.

Yep, this was another rant. and it wasn't even all of what I've been thinking. I am going to try and leave politics for awhile as it's doing nothing for my anxiety level. There are other things to think about in the world. Positive, beautiful things and it's what we as individuals have to do. Do what we can, donate, volunteer, make sure we know the facts, but then make our own life good because it's through our energy of love and goodness that the world actually does change. Hate, fear and revenge will change nothing positive. One thing I have learned in 64 years (and the first elections I remember hearing about were Stevenson against Eisenhower) is we can't make any election go as we want. The question is instead-- what can we do about our own, individual lives?

(The canyon slot photo above is taken off the main trail in the Romero Canyon area. Some years ago, when I first saw it, the pool beneath that huge cliff was at least waist deep. After a big flood, it became totally sanded in and only the creek came through for a year or so, but slowly the pool is being deepened. It is happening grain of sand by grain of sand.

When you walk where the pool was, it's maybe knee deep at the most but tricky as the sand is like quicksand being soft and sucks you in, holding onto your foot to trip you. It did exactly that to me last year up at Sabino Canyon. The photo makes a good metaphor and reminder for how we can make a difference. It isn't easy, there are pitfalls, it does not happen all at once, but it can happen.)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Peggy Noonan nails it again

Peggy Noonan is always worth reading, but her column this week was particularly insightful, I thought. Peggy Noonan-- Over the Top.

Her last two paragraphs really said it all for how I feel right now:
"I end with a deadly, deadpan prediction from Christopher Hitchens. Hillary is the next president, he told radio's Hugh Hewitt, because, "there's something horrible and undefeatable about people who have no life except the worship of power... people who don't want the meeting to end, the people who just are unstoppable, who have only one focus, no humanity, no character, nothing but the worship of money and power. They win in the end."

"It was like Claude Rains summing up the meaning of everything in the film "Lawrence of Arabia": "One of them's mad and the other is wholly unscrupulous." It's the moment when you realize you just heard the truth, the meaning underlying all the drama. "They win in the end." Gave me a shudder."

What we are seeing unroll, in my opinion, will be 4 and maybe even 8 years of finally getting it that both of our leading parties can be horrible, can mess things up, can vote for power simply to have power, that dirty tricks are rewarded, and revenge is a virtue, that the Constitution is not to be valued but to be ignored.

This is what I have feared in terms of how Bush got in power. Our dark underside is being revealed. Bush wasn't an anomaly or even unique to his party. When we get through with the Clintons for another term in power, possibly all of us will finally get it. It's not just one party. It's a viewpoint, a way of winning, a lack of caring what it takes to win as long as we win. I hear it over and over right now when the actions show one thing but the Clintons voice the opposite; and Democrats (many of whom, as with Republican true-believers, mean well) look at their words, not their actions. It's disillusioning, and I don't know what it means about us as a people or our future.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Dark times even in sunshine

Everybody goes through dark times, times of depression, of feeling upset and sometimes with no idea of why. It just happens. Sometimes, like now, it might be due to planetary combinations that leave many people feeling the same thing at the same time.

When a person is going through such a dark time, it doesn’t matter if their world looks good to others. Nobody can tell us-- well look at all you have going for you! It doesn't help to know that sunshine is nearby. The reason none of that works is because such a time is not about logic. It’s about going through a dark time and doing the best one can with it. If the personal dark times last too long, there will be suggestions to go the doctor, get a prescription for something to ligthten up, which occasionally might be the right choice, but most often the right choice is just be willing to feel what is, whether it is fun or not, as it’s all part of a whole experience of life.

Emotionally, I am going through one of those dark times and there is no logical reason that I can identify. It just is. I am doing the best I can with it. Some is probably loneliness. I am currently in Tucson by myself. It is something I have done many times before, sometimes for months and enjoyed my time; but this year I didn’t want to come, haven’t had the energy to do the things I know helped in the past. Maybe it’s because my inner self is telling me that although there was maintenance to do on the house, there is also inner work to do on me-- work that isn’t fun.

Jokingly I told a friend I was thinking about having a nervous breakdown while here and wondered if two weeks was long enough. He didn’t appear to find it humorous; and since I have never had a nervous breakdown (that I know of), perhaps joking about it was poor on my part. I have had dark times before and always do the best I can to keep trudging through them knowing on the other side, it’ll be better.

So lots of chamomile tea, trying to paint (but that’s not been going well), photography (if the quail will cooperate), watering the new plantings, some walking, some reading, listening to my old cat yowl periodically (probably due to missing her home and the other cats but making me wish I'd left her at the farm), and just letting be what it is. Perhaps I will learn something through this particular darkness. Although I suspect we have this propensity for wanting to make lemonade out of lemons, see the bright side of every situation. Maybe sometimes we should just accept darkness and not try to make it have some value. It is what it is.

Incidentally, Mars coming into Pluto doesn't bode well for the current political season (this from many astrology sites an example being Astrological Musings). Mars represents violent, angry action.

Here is something my favorite astrologer Jonathan Cainer wrote about Pluto: “Pluto, Lord of the Underworld. King of all things hidden, disguised, denied and suppressed. Guardian of secrets. Governor of dangerous desires and irrational passions. No wonder we don't want to know about him in our modern, tidy world, full of shallow frippery. No wonder our scientists have been so keen to demote and disempower this primeval planet. In Capricorn, the earth sign, Pluto will dig up whatever has been buried, literally and metaphorically. It may bring volcanoes or earthquakes, but it will also bring their emotional equivalents. Dark histories that must now be exposed and brought to the surface.”

I don’t know about you, but that along with today being the new moon is leaving me wanting to curl up in bed and pull the covers over my head. It sure doesn’t make me want to watch television news. Although perhaps this is a time, such as Cainer described, also for the American people. Who are we really? What are our goals? Are they as glowing as we'd like to say? Lately it has made me wonder how come people claim they don't like negativity in campaigning and yet they reward it time and again? Do we get what we truly do want, not what we say we want? Now that's a really scary thought!

(The above photo was taken last week-end by my husband up Romero Canyon. When I went looking for something to illustrate what I was wanting to write about, it seemed to do it best. Sometimes we walk in light-- sometimes in darkness. Both have their beauty and purpose. One feels like more fun though...)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


As anyone who reads this blog knows, I did not go to bed happy last night, nor awake happy when I checked the news. I hoped I'd be wrong about the primary results but the last 7 years of Bush tactics haven't done anything to give me much faith in the American voters. People are swayed by so many things.

The Clintons' attack ad played the fear card which has worked since Johnson used it on Goldwater. Show a child. Show a threat. Who can keep you safe? Oh I know! I know! A woman who gets on her pantsuit before she answers the phone or who never goes to bed. Maybe they saw her as the leader who stays up all night looking out for the safety of our country? She sits there at her White House desk at 3 AM just waiting for some good deed to do for the American people. They wouldn't have wanted to show her reaching for the phone from bed as that would remind everyone about her marriage bed.

Yes, I am disappointed today but not surprised. I am disappointed every time I read some woman saying she has dreamed of a woman president since she was a girl? Why? What did that woman expect would happen in her life if a woman became president? It won't make her marriage better. Won't help her kids to grow up to be responsible citizens. Does she believe it'll help her get a better job? It won't make this country be stronger if that female leader is there simply because of gender, not because she has the right temperament and takes the right stand on issues.

Let's look at one of Hillary's biggest applause lines. I will make sure everyone buys has health insurance. She claims she will provide subsidies for those who cannot afford it. But who decides if you can afford it? The government. Do you want the government making those budgeting decisions for you? So you want a mandate as there is with auto insurance?

What will happen if you refuse to buy insurance? If you work for a company, the government will draw out the money for this government mandated program, but if you are an individual, how do they force you? Put you in jail? Take all your money? Suppose you are above their decided lines and decided it was more important to get your child braces? Maybe go to a family counselor? Help grandma and grandpa move into a facility? Already have credit card debt or need a new automobile to get to your job across town? Take a family vacation to recover from some traumatic family events? You won't have the choice of deciding whether you buy it. It will be a mandate with government deciding if you can afford it.

I would like to see basic health care for all, but if insurance companies are in the picture, it will bankrupt the system just as the current Medicare addition of prescription drugs has been doing with its confusing rules. The answer for universal health care is single system like Medicare, like the government has and insurance companies out of that loop. It also means allowing people with money to pay for additional insurance as happens with Medicare now. It won't be totally fair. Who said life is fair? Whoever did should be taken around the globe on a tour. Life has never been fair and it won't be fair with any kind of universal health care program. The problem with all these programs is in the nitty gritty of the details. Pie-in-the-sky works best when it stays in the sky.

It would be easy to go on about why Hillary is poor choice temperamentally for the presidency but I've written it all before. For me it's about her stand on issues as well as her temperament which she is for now keeping under wraps but it'll come out if she gets in-- which thanks to her red phone ad working, is unlikely. McCain can use that a lot better than she can. Do any of those swayed voters remember that they were both wrong when it really rang about both Iraq and Iran. What is supposed to change when either are in power?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Desert Wildflowers

Desert dwellers eagerly await the first spring wildflowers. The season will be dissected in the newspapers. A good year, a less than good year, all are written about and weighed. The prime displays are mentioned for those who drive from one wild garden to another.

With the first waves of color, along roadways you will see cars stopped at each pull out-- or sometimes just on the road with a camera pointed toward the brilliant swatches of color.

Desert flowers are protected. Oh not so much by the government, but by their guardians around and above them armed with thorns, barbs and one might imagine swords for the unwary with soft, unprotected flesh, who let a photo op make them careless. Desert is a harsh taskmaster.

The last day of February, on the west slope of the Tucson Mountains, these poppies were putting on their first big show. More flowers and colors
will soon join them as one after another their time arrives to show their stuff.

Their beds seem so perfectly proportioned, planted with trees, cactus, interesting backdrops that it's amazing no (earthly anyway) gardener planned their display.

Some years their numbers are few, but it does not appear 2008 will be one of those years. This is the year wildflower enthusiasts wait to see and drink in. This is the year the winter rains have provided all the seeds needed to sprout and spread their colors across the desert-- seemingly singing a song of spring and renewed life.

The desert's flower show won't end with wildflowers, but I won't be here this year when the next act opens with the cactus competing for which is most glorious.

As the wildflowers wane in the lower desert, the show will move north to the mesas and mountains continuing their symphony of color which if you listen carefully when out there, you can hear as well as see.

(These were all taken late afternoon February 29, 2008. The only problem was deciding which to show here as the day was perfect for flowers and photographs)