Sunday, July 20

Critter Sunday

Osprey in the Wild Blue - Woods Canyon Lake, AZ

Peach Tree Visitor - Sedona, AZ

Feisty Rufous - Sedona, AZ

Who Stole My Place? - Elephant Seals at Ragged Point, CA

Nap Time - Monterey, CA
Spiney Lizard - Sedona, AZ

Gambol Quail Says Hi! - Sedona, AZ

"And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good." -
Genesis 1:21

I just got the newest historical novel by Diana Gabaldon, "Written in My Own Heart's Blood."  It's the eighth book in her Outlander series weighing in at over 800 pages and so far, it is an intense pleasure to read.  The series has everything:  time-travel, romance, history, medicine, biology, and wonderful writing.  She shares her extensive knowledge of the natural world in almost every sentence, and this knowledge gives each book a familiar flavor of the outdoors, opening doors into the interior worlds of Jacobite Scotland and colonial America.

One sentence in this new book seems to be the key for unlocking Gabaldon's fascination for me:

"I had my legs wrapped round him - I could feel the flutter of tiny insects on my ankles and bare feet as they swarmed, avid for his unprotected bare flesh - and didn't mean to let him go." - Chapter 65, "Mosquitoes"

Of course her description of Claire's sex with her husband, Jaime, is fascinating but the fine details she uses to paint a picture of an exhausted couple sleeping outside by the river with all of its plants, animals and insects really captures the earthy essence of this series.

It is a glimpse into an exterior world.  A world where human activities are outside of homes, factories, shops, and even when she describes urban living in the late 1700s, there are always descriptions of the efforts people must make that take them into the streets to communicate via messenger, ride on horse back or in carriages to neighbors and towns.  There is strenuous effort in her books.  People coping, day-to-day, with the "inconveniences" of unadulterated smells, finding food and shelter, physical injury, biting animals and insects - survival in a hostile world.

It does not surprise me that she was born in Flagstaff, Arizona - actually Williams!  Her writing shines when she describes a pine forest or snow falling on a rocky bluff or a meadow full of wildflowers.  Her educated and lively mind brings all of the color and freshness of Northern Arizona into her stories and those homey glimpses of reality infuse this fantasy series with a perspective both familiar and otherworldly.

Shouldn't be long before I finish this massive adventure story and then the long wait begins for her next installment!

Wednesday, July 16

Who Are These People?

Grand Canyon State Wonders

Gov Brewer Speaks Before the Arizona Legislature

Tough Talk 

Where Does It All Lead?

"From the Jim Crow anti-immigrant law and birther bill to the reality television show Sunset Daze, Arizona is gaining an international reputation for being crazy." - Jon Talton, Rogue Columnist

My guilty on-line pleasure is (holds breath)  Vids of housewives of new jersey? Rich kids of instagram? Nope.  None of these. It's *cough* ...Buzzfeed! Yes, I love this popular website.  It's not as boring as porn, or as trashy-fun as "housewives", or as drool-worthy as "rich kids."  It's a site jam-packed with the unimportant trivia I so love and, once in a while, it has a nugget of interesting truth to chew on.

One such trivia item came up a few months ago on Buzzfeed: The Stereotype Map Of Every U.S. State — According To British People. Arizona, the majestic Grand Canyon State, is perceived by our British brothers as hot (of course), desert (true), and the producer of "fucked-up laws" (WHA?). The last perception surprised me because I thought that only the lonely democrats in this state were aware of the truth of this notion. Thanks to Buzzfeed, I now keep an eye on not only local, but national and international news about Arizona and realize that it's hard for the nation and the world to ignore our creepy, ignorant, mostly republican law makers, and law enforcers, especially media manipulator Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his clone, Paul Babeu.  These elected officials grandstand relentlessly, giving the impression that Arizona is a haven of racist, homophobic, misogynist, gun-loving wing nuts who say they love their Lord God.  But, not when it comes to "strangers" like immigrants, children, women, (fill in the blank).  Then,  following Christian teachings, even the most basic one -

"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12

- gets kicked to the curb for some deluded, liberal Good Samaritan to trip over.

Today's latest travesty, "Arizona Politician Mistakes YMCA Campers for Migrant Children", illustrates perfectly the unhinged nature of Arizona's political landscape. Today, Adam Kwasman is featured in the ongoing reality show, "Arizona's Crazy Politicians: Hysteria and Fear in the Grand Canyon State."  Yesterday, Arizona's political drama was about which republican gubernatorial candidate is more emotional about eliminating the state income tax.  What is Arizona's political future?  We'll ask Cathi Herrod, ALEC, and  The Goldwater Institute about their future plans and watch the clock go backwards.

I suppose some would say that Arizonans get what they deserve for voting for those who despise them, but no one deserves the carnage created by Arizona's legislature.  I asked a prominent Arizona democratic legislator what it's like to work with so many republicans, "I grew up with some of these guys and I know how they play the game.  So, everything I do is a compromise and must be flawless."  That's how democrats and independents must operate at the state level.

At the national level, this strategy has already unravelled and has morphed into a partisan quagmire where the no-brainer funding of extra help for our borders is bogged down into a tar pit of rhetoric and delay tactics.  Do nothing!  That's the rallying cry of tea party republicans and while they're collecting their paychecks and using reviled federal healthcare programs, they have the nerve to sneer and throw tantrums about anything President Obama requests.  Never mind that he won two elections and two popular votes.  The "people" don't know what they should want.  So these republicans do nothing but tear down any program that benefits people (...let's leave the peoplehood of corporations out of this one),  and they waste time and taxpayer money spinning  idiotic scandals - whether based on truth or lies - the ends justifies the means.  Crazy is a kind word for these public servants.  I just wonder if SCOTUS will grant corporations the right to serve as legislators under their new peoplehood status.  Then the grandstanding crazies might not be needed anymore.  Ahhhh...I can almost see the silver lining.