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Saturday, June 27, 2020

It's about the flowers

by Rain Trueax

As seems to be happening to me lately, I wrote a lengthy blog for here, and then woke up Friday morning knowing I wanted to put none of it out. Writing these things ahead of time appears not to be working for me anymore as my life and mood changes, what is outside changes, and what seemed a good idea no longer does. 

So, I am going to make this all about flowers. Sometimes what the world needs most is something pretty and a reminder that life is more than the moment. It continues on even when we sometimes doubt it will.

Most of the flowers you will see are xeriscape and have been here a long time. The zinnias are the exception. Ranch Boss got a packet of seeds to see how they'd do and they have seemed to handle the 110º F heat just fine. A spot of joy. Since they are behind a fence in the cat yard, I don't yet know if they will be safe in front, with no fence, from the rabbits and javelina. I might find out in the fall.

With the fire still raging-- almost 90,000 acres now, Covid-19 making Arizona a hot spot in more ways than one as it gets more cases than anywhere else-- and it's hitting younger people; and smoke making it impossible for me to go outside, having something bright here is the best I can do.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

By Diane: Mini-art respite update #5: Rewards and learning experiences

Another week past inwhich I did little active painting. But as always I kept looking both at nature and my paintings.

   My swallow paintings are in the final step in the process - critiquing.  Critiquing is slow going.
       Friday my willingness to try something new in painting spilled over into life. Once in awhile my wild ideas result with good creations.
         I learned this week that a hand towel is a perfect window cleaner when the terry cloth is  pulled from a washing machine load and is moist.  I learned that a mashed cooked sweet potato blended with oat milk, whole cow's milk, avocada and butter makes a delicious cold soup.  It is also good as a sauce with meat.
          Another food adventure was not so happy.  Instead of mixing gratted chedar cheese I substituted cottage cheese. Instead of chopped tomatoes I substituted chopped peaches.  Instead of bread crumbs I added gluten free, brown rice crumbs.  The egg held it together but the sugars from the peaches browned much too quickly. After the first test burger, I turning down the heat. I thought it was delicious but not suitable for Fisherman Hubby who would have had a hard time swallowing the partly crispy edges.
          My guilt free, rewarding, comfort foods are variations of sweet potato soup or cream of avocado soup. I made a chocolate pudding when I add unsweetened coco powder. No added refined sugar or sweeteners! Wish I had a camera to have captured Fisherman Hubby's face. I have two desserts to myself. 
           Sometimes Fisherman Hubby has too much congestion and sometimes he over doses the dryin drops and his mouth is too dry. We both agree that his menu and his meds are not working well. Maybe more convenience foods. Bring on the chocolate coated vanilla icecream Micky bars. He liked pot stickers.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

birds and saguaro fruit-- video

by Rain Trueax

Something for the first day of summer 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Sometimes we'd rather...

by Rain Trueax

Given our times, I'd like to write something positive here. At the moment, for me, it turns out to be impossible if I want to be responsible.

That said, I don't believe people should get their facts from blogs, Facebook, Twitter or general social media with no real accountability. I think some readers depend on like Twitter, but that's unfortunate in a time where facts can be twisted, depending on the agenda of the one putting the 'facts' out. Yesterday, one thing will have been true. Today, the opposite.

Now, ideas are good to get from any source as we weigh them against our own knowledge. I have wanted this blog to stick with ideas, and I think it still is but what facts do I put into framing those ideas. There is the rub.

My reality for me, today, is the fires; and my gosh, that is still going on as fire ravages the Santa Catalina Mountains. At this point, they are taking it very seriously with 8 hotshot crews, 12 Type 2 hand crews, 2 Type 1 engines, 27 Type 3 engines, 4 Type 4 engines, 31 Type 6 engines, 3 Type 1 helicopters, 1 Type 2 helicopter, 2 Type 3 helicopters, 11 water tenders and 6 bulldozers. It is not stopping this fire.

Smoke has taken away one of my important mental health go-to's in a time of virus. Although not in danger, we are too close to the fires. I can't go outside without risking sinus infections, and I don't want to go to any doctor right now, but a bad sinus infection would mandate that (in my past experience). So I keep doors and windows closed and have to look out the windows to get my slice of nature-- some smoke seeps in anyway despite all those new windows (what a serendipitous thing was doing those this year). Looking outside is just not the same. But this fire is not done with my region of the desert. They are talking maybe no control until July 4th, but without soaking rains, that seems unlikely to me also. The one certainty is that it will change the landscape for my lifetime. :(

So, that was depressing but it's not all that is. That virus has not gone away. Too many have turned mask wearing into a political issue. IF you are one of those, please read the next two articles to get opinions from those in the field. This is especially true if you want to think it's over.

On Masks--
This article came from Facebook and I had to put it somewhere for others to read. As it turned out, I already had the right blog that I have not used since I created it in 2005. Maybe I will now as it was intended to be about bridges. Seems an apropos time for such a blog.

Ranch Boss and I wear masks although I don't go out much given I am one of those at high risk to have a bad result if I got it-- 4 markers against me. I am happy that Tucson now requires masks in public places. I hope Pima County will join in. 

Too many younger people think it's not about them. Our local paper posts the ages of those who are testing positive. Twice as many were 20 to 44 as those over 65. Some think they won't get that sick if they get it, being younger, well, this thing lingers in the body and who knows what it will do long term. Be smart-- not politically correct to whatever you think your ideology requires. It's a health issue. 

Now, for that positive stuff I promised... Well, this went on too long. So I decided to make a jigsaw puzzle from one of our recent photos. It relates to what next Saturday's blog will be about. If you decide to work it, I recommend reducing the number of pieces as this is a complex one. 

I really hope you will read these articles-- especially if you are among those who think it's over or that it's not about you. We don't have to have fear.  We have to do what we can and be informed.

Friday, June 19, 2020

by diane; Mini-art-respite from caretaking #4: Little by little return to my first intention

Thursday: Very sweet yet?  About 14 months ago, our back yard view of fields of grass reminded me of Vincent VanGogh's crows brush work, "Wheat Field with Crows", But I wanted to express joy. I wanted texture and movement.

Thanks to one of my daughters, I had some free time today to once again paint over it further building up texture.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

by Diane: Mini-art respite from caregiving update #3; Where have the swallows flown?

Enjoying  feeling empowered
seeing this painting gradually develop
adding a brush stroke
at each mini-mini-art respite

Just a week ago the air was a constant show of fledgling swallows learning to fly and once in awhile making some awkward unexpected landings. Some continued to pester their parents for good eats. Less often they flew in pairs. But after I observed them for several months, I saw repeatedly a flight pattern that approximated a geometric, topological tangle - two flying around each other higher and higher as if ascending a column.
        Tuesday at 1:00 PM the Western sky turned blue, slate gray. Then one vulture flew in circles closer and closer followed by at least 12 more. Straight above the swallows having nothing to fear from vultures circled this way and that in a tangle unlike when they used to feed in pairs flying parallel one slightly ahead of the other. The vultures and a few swallows met within a close distance before the vultures veered south not advancing overhead.
       Then the storm was overhead and it rained for a few minutes.
       I can't believe it is Tuesday, June 15.  A week has gone by and all my mini-respites are mini mini. It was unusual this week. We celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary. My creativity has gone into cooking for Fisherman Hubby making sure my little masterpieces are just right in temperature, in soft consistency, right size bites, salty enough, and not too sweet. Sometimes I am rewarded when he finishes my gourmet attemps. My frequent failures are more often caught in time to improvise something else. One daughter is trying hard to make convenient frozen meals. But I am going to ask that she my meals since I do not need to be so particular about appearance. I enjoy the challenge of preparing the very best I can.
       On top of it all I have been scrambling to get someone to install bath tub grab bars into tile.

Butter crust failed - going back to part Crisco
       On top of everything else we need to figure out and practice for the hopefully unexpected event that I should have a medical emergency. Fisherman Hubby, his primary care doctor declared that he cannot speek clearly enough to explain necessary information to 911. She thought he might be too distressed to use his surface pro Grid 3. Well maybe if we practiced. Today I will steal time from my mini-mini-respite.
       Well enough writing, I am going to paint now and make a lemon merangue pie.

         Later after dinner, I can say this time the meat loaf was improved when made with low fat hamberger but an all butter crust  browned while being mostly raw. So I removed the filling and will put it on a graham cracker crust.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

It comes from the skies

by Rain Trueax

looking toward the Strawberry full moon

As with last Saturday's blog, I had a plan for this one. Then, things changed. Instead I'll relate what's been going on at Casa Espiritu, our desert home. It was unexpected, but what hasn't been this last year. 

Tucson has entered the monsoon season. A week earlier, we'd had our first good storm. It hit us with all you can ask for with such storms-- wind, driving rain, thunder, and lightning. Storms that come with rain are the best as there is another kind-- dry lightning storms. Because this storm was intense, Ranch Boss filmed it and it's below. Such a giving storm means life to the land.

From Casa Espiritu May 29th

After that storm, they were spaced a few days apart. Most missed us. Sometimes, we'd see them travel up the Tucson Mountains, but we got nothing. Friday night, the 5th, the night of that full moon, we heard some rumblings of thunder, but they didn't seem close. We got a couple of sprinkles before bedtime.

Saturday morning, June 6th, we were sitting in our backyard, talking. It was our son's birthday and his present was it was the day the shearer could do the sheep. Not much of a birthday present, but he seemed okay with it. It's more troubling to us not to be there for what's been our life for over 40 years. Unplanned as this at this time due to life changes and the pandemic, we felt disturbed and yet understanding. One generation lets go and another takes over. We were lucky we had a son who can take over.

That afternoon, the temperature was about 96ºF, perfect for the patio misting cooling system to make it pleasant enough to be outside. As we watched the birds, good for de-stressing (and who doesn't need that these days), we saw jets fly surprisingly low. We thought they were headed to the airport. Never had we seen ones so big so low. Two of them. We watched to see where they went but lost them. I remember how blue the sky was, so pure of color.  Often, it's that way above Pusch Ridge, the mountain range that is part of the Catalinas and not many miles, as a crow flies, from our house.

Later that afternoon, Ranch Boss saw the smoke. That's when we realized the plane we'd seen was a fire fighting jet and had been dropping fire retardant to try to put an inflammable barrier between the fires and homes in a development called La Reserve. We looked for information on it and found the fire, called the Bighorn,  because this is part of their habitat was maybe 10 acres to begin but growing. That dry lightning storm had started two others, in the hills ringing Tucson.

Many photos followed, along with some videos as Ranch Boss took them that afternoon, after it got dark, and then again the next morning. We were happy that it was being fought but learned that the powers seemed to think letting it grow some was good for the mountain. Seeing the fire fighting plane reminded us how wonderful it was that there are those who are trained to help the rest of us. They give up their free time, face danger, and we count on them. I grew up in a time that was less true.

Living a rural life most of my years, wildfires are always a concern when it's been too dry, for too long. As a little girl, a fire came down over the mountain toward our farm. I remember walking down the farm road to catch the school bus and seeing that red glow on the horizon-- wondering what I'd come home to see. That fire got as far as my parents' back acres before my father and other local men set a backfire that turned it from homes back toward the wilderness. In those days, the kinds of crews and equipment that we take for granted today didn't exist.

Our farm in Oregon has twice had fires too close. One time we took our family photo albums, the Hopi pottery and our Navajo rugs into town to be at our daughter's in case we had to evacuate. Fortunately, fire crews put it out before that happened. When I've been away for a time, I always scan the horizon for that telltale red glow or smoke. 

One more firefighting story. It involves what has been called by numerous names but among them, the South Canyon or Storm King fire. It's been memorialized in a book Fire on the Mountain. It's important in my memory because I knew one of the girls killed in it. She had gone to school with my kids, went onto college as more acquaintances than close friends, but I had her in my car more than once to school events. Terri Hagen was in track, a strong girl and summers fighting fires as a hot shot to pay for college was a logical thing for her. There is also a memorial above Bear Creek in Montana put there by Don Mackey's father. I have a photo of that, but it's unfortunately in Oregon. These people, and many more, have given their lives for the good of the forest and the rest of us. I am reminded of it all with this newest fire to enter my life.

Well, back to my story, in the case of The Bighorn, as I said above, the firemen  concentrated on dropping fire retardant as well as water to suppress but not put it out since they felt it can be healthy for such rocky terrain by reducing cover for the predators that hunt the bighorns. In the beginning, they concentrated on protecting nearby homes. 

As the week went on, that decision seemed less wise as it grew to 7000+ acres. It got into Pima Canyon, a beautiful place for hiking and threatens the homes below as they changed the area that people might have to evacuate. This is one of Tucson's older and nicer neighborhoods with homes beautifully set into the desert around them. 

A second warning to prepare to evacuate is on the side of the mountain toward our home, but we are not at risk from it at this point. The thing could change if it gets into the big wash that comes down from the mountain. Hopefully, they are aware of that and will stop it before it gets that far. If it did, it could still be stopped back in the canyons with what they drop from the sky. It would be bad news for a lot of businesses if they can't get it under control at least there-- not to mention Catalina State Park. Today part of the area you see on the map is under mandatory evacuation now and part is to be ready-- called set.

map of potential evacuation area on the other side of Pusch Ridge from us

When those in charge realized the situation, they brought in more fire fighters, more professionals to run the operation, but if they had been more aggressive earlier, it would have been put out. Now, with the extreme heat and off and on winds, it's hard to say how long it'll take, and the smoke is leading to warnings to stay inside throughout at least this area of Tucson. These rugged hills aren't easy for fire fighting; so much has to come from the air. Catalina State Park closed as have most hiking trails on the south side of the Catalinas. 

One good thing is the homes asked to evacuate were told they could return home but still be ready. I had read that the hotshots were setting backfires, which consume the fuel before a fire can reach that region. Maybe that worked.

Still, there is the other concern that if it heads toward Mt. Lemmon, there are tall trees up there. It suffered a bad fire a few years ago. Fire, like storms and the sun, is part of the desert life.

So, about what i planned to write-- Maybe next blog what I had in mind will come again or maybe something new... Several ideas surface, claiming it should be them; then they disappear as another arises. I have strong opinions, but what I don't want to do is insult readers who come here-- from either side. I have seen too much of that from blogs I used to enjoy. People don't need lectures right now, but I think a reminder of life being about more than momentary hysteria (you know where we must do something anything, and right now). I believe that people need hope that there can be a better tomorrow, but it might take work to get there. Ranch living tends to teach that lesson as it's full of tragedies and rebuilding. 

Still, how can one ignore what's beyond ourselves??? For me, it's a time for having squirrels on my mental wheel, each trying for prominence. Too bad one isn't for the book I should be working on...

The photos above were all from our home here earlier in the week. The map came from KGUN 9. The photos below were taken when Ranch Boss had to go out to pick up an order. That's the smoke that is impacting the area and gives you an idea of the rugged country where they have to fight this fire.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

by Diane; Care giver's mini-art respite update #2 : Something to celebrate

                                                Our 55th wedding Anniversary.
    This morning Fisherman Hubby felt a little down.  But then we had a nice visit with one of his brother's and sister-in-laws who does virtual paint-outs with me.  The decorations are recycled from helium balloons that daughter gave after his November hiatal hernia surgery.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

by Diane: Update #1, Caregiving mini-art-respite - pharmaceueudical CEOs won't like this

6" square
A more perfect day for painting outside could not have been asked for. Last Friday after not painting last week, all the steps of the painting process fell into place. My past week's observing and incubating the flight of swallows paid off for making the paint-out exceptional. Credit also goes to my paint-out partner via zoom. My phone was set on the painting table so I could hear the scrapping of the palette knife and she could see me paint. Painting together creates energy that becomes part of the painting. Rarely do I paint pictures that just take a life of their own and flow making me surprised that I could have painted it myself.
    Cloudy skies after the rain the night before cleared. The sun's heat was warm on my arms.  The atmosphere was damp, no breeze, shadows spread across the greening foliage.  As the sun climbed towards the zenith, clouds again started to gather.  The acrylic gouache remained moist on the palette. New Lascaux paints - a type of gouache with a matt acrylic finish pleased me. Especially liked the rough Ampersand aquabord used for both paintings!

        A vague comment on last week's blog, I interpret to mean that movement can be expressed on the picture plane with less than three points.  Three points are necessary to make a curve is simple geometry. If my commenter intended to dissagree because it is possible to express curved movement without three successive turning images, she is correct. . A curved direction of swallows can be expressed with a swash.
11"x 14"
       I found it simple illustrating the flight direction change of it's lowest image with swash.. At least while painting it, I was happy and felt it was complete until someone asked are those birds? So made the swish of the middle image more prominate connecting it to the more distant one with a skinny line.

18" x 24"

      Another artist said some painters want others to have their own interpretation While others are offended if their work is seen different from what they intend.  My process here of painting my perception and emotional vision means I am painting a reality I want to share like an illustration. My non-objective paintings stimulate others to see an object which I find pleasantly amusing.

Life beyond painting last week:

Fisherman hubby has a new gadget - a Surface-pro "3 Grid" app on an Ipad. It will generate speech for him. He and one daughter are customizing the files and his speech therapist tries to make changes for easier use. We are now making use of an Oregon Health Science University in conjunction with the ALS Organization virtual 4+ hour ALS clinics. The first one this week.

   The tension of  on line meetings had me so tense that I hurt all over. Then gardening and cutting a watermelon flared up the arthritus in my right wrist. I felt really tired but I started painting anyway.  After awhile, I realized that I didn't hurt anymore. Even an hours later pain free!

    Tomorrow is Fisherman Hubby and my 55th wedding anniversary. We are going to celebrate even if we have been doctoring this week.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Quail update

by Rain Trueax

Something uplifting, I hope, in a dark time. The quail are growing up and increasingly independent of their parents, who may be working on a new brood. The older quail babies are less flighty than the newborns, of which we also have some but they don't spend long at the quail block.


Saturday, June 06, 2020


by Rain Trueax

the Strawberry full moon Friday morning.

I woke up Friday morning trying to decide what to write for this blog. We are in such a troubled time and my thoughts went many directions. The words that were running around in my head were opportunity, choices, consequences, results. They seemed too many to write a reasonable blog. When I got up, I went to Facebook and it was as chaotic for opinions as my head had been. That's when I thought-- I can't write on it right now.

So, I am only going to write about the gallery show that was intended for people to see from their cars. One of Tucson's resorts, Hacienda del Sol, had set aside one of its parking lots for what was titled The Nation's First Pop Up Drive Through Sculpture Show. I had read about it Memorial Day as one of the safe things to do in Tucson during the lock down. It ran through the 31st and that was the day we drove there.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

by Diane: Mini-respites from caregiving

Painting is in incubation as I observe both an imaginary grid from earth to sky
with a third dimention grid  from foreground to the vanishing distance.
 I imagine placing swallows on my imaginary grid lining up the axes of their bodies.
Friday I may have another virtual paint out with sister-in-law in Portland.

Inspite of everything this week, I learned from observing swallows' flight movements and how to interpret movement on a flat painting surface.  But yikes, in today's Covid19 world, most of our doctors' appointments are virtual. Each clinic or hospital with a different apt to download requiring one or another password :(
   I am going cross eyed and my tongue is hanging out waiting for the computers to respond. Sometimes I just don't know the tricks. Often stumped I call the help lines only to be referred to my Iphone provider to obtain a password to an account I vaguely recall cancelling.  What a time sink!  Thankfully we have one of our savy tech daughters who promises to rescue us from cyber confusion and failures.
     This last week, today and tomorrow are the biggest test of my previous plan for taking time out to paint. I want to be attentive to Fisherman Hubby's needs.  He has 7 medical appointments in close proximity - two of which are local and in person. Plus learning new computerized equipment.- one is a cool speech generating devise and another is a watch size devise to check how his VPap is taking over breathing when he stops for a period. Plus my e-mail has been impacted by either mine or a  contact of mine being hacked. The hacker is a very different kind of hacker who starts with only me and one other on my e-mail list.
     At least this week I see the problem of calling my art doings an Art Escape. I don't want to be off in lala painting if Fisherman Hubby needs me.

Monday, June 01, 2020

a vlog or video blog.

by Rain Trueax

Hey, it's June. I hope this is a better month for the world than May was... Are we turning a page or is this the same book?

Once in a while, I like to make what some call a vlog, which is a blog with video. I did that this Saturday afternoon and wanted to share it here. It's good to know that the people we read are real. It's especially good in a time of social distancing.  Have you done any; and if so, have you shared them with those who are friends or who read your words?

I got Zoom last week. Do you like it? So far, I am not sure but the idea of real people sharing what they are thinking in a conversation or meeting, that seems good for a time of virus.