Sunday, August 29, 2010
This photo and the one above are both from Agua Caliente Park in Tucson.
Both of these are of our yard at our last house in Tucson. We had a wet spell and the yard went crazy with flowers. The recent monsoon activity in Glendale has only driven ants indoors. Biting ants.
"The Mint" on Grant Road in Tucson. A lot pigeons on that wire.
This last one is of Rose Canyon Lake up on Mt. Lemmon. There's a campground there and they stock it with fish. It's a man-made lake and would barely pass muster as a pond in most parts of the country, but it's a whole lot of water in one place for here in Arizona.
Now that we've developed a roll of film, we have a better idea of how the camera shoots. I'm excited to see how our next batch of photos turns out.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Yarn Owl is a band from Pullman, Washington. Their website describes their sound as melding "the pop sensibilities of the 60’s and 70’s with a twist of modern indie flare." My path crossed with band's somewhere in the sinuous ways of the Internet. Noam Chomsky has asserted that language contains infinite numbers of potential combinations, but I'm guessing the words "Yarn" and "Owl" are not often a likely pair. So they're called Yarn Owl, I own a yarn owl, someone punches "yarn owl" into Google and the magic of Boolean search brings people together.
Well, once I found the band, I thought they sounded great. I sent them some questions and their singer, Javier Suarez, was kind enough to respond.
Eric -Yarn Owl began in 2007 and you've been a pretty busy band since then. Can you give us a brief time line of events over the last three or so years?
E - You're from the Northwest (Pullman, Washington) and so you have a legacy of great northwestern folk-rock bands to contend with, such as Rogue Wave, The Decemberists, and Blitzen Trapper. What is your relationship with the northwest's musical heritage and how has it affected your sound, if at all?
E - On your website you say you have a full length album coming out. Where are you recording that and with whom? When can we expect to hear it?
E - What do you do to create such a full sound? Instruments? Studio techniques?
E - Any plans for a tour outside of the northwest anytime soon?
E - Tyler makes some rad videos for your songs. What's the process? It looks work intensive.
E - How'd you come up with the name Yarn Owl?
If you've been looking at your old Walkman, missing it, longing for a reason to reconnect, then pick up Yarn Owls' "Tiny Dots." You can buy it here. It comes with a digital format, too, so iPoders can listen the newfangled way.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
There are two hummingbirds that hang out by a feeder, a male and a female. I'm assuming they're a pair. Male hummingbirds are territorial and these two are quite chummy, though they seem to enjoy chasing each other from pine trees to palm trees and back the feeder.
You can see the rest of my hummingbird shots here on our Flickr page. They weren't very wary of me and were pretty obliging for their early morning photo shoot. Still, I didn't get too close or stay too long. I'd rather see the real birds than look at a nice picture. That being said, I think I got some OK shots, though nothing as nice as this one of a female ruby-throated hummingbird that Erin took at the Worcester Audubon Society a few years back. One final note, if I incorrectly identified these hummingbirds, e-mail me or set me straight in the comments.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
This is the view into Lenox Crater just before dusk. You can't hike up Sunset Crater anymore, but you can still check out Lenox Crater, which is a smaller volcanic crater.
Our campsite ended up being a pretty interesting place to be even beyond the black ground and hills. There were some interesting flowers, like virgin's bower and primroses (pictured below). Virgin's Bower is my new favorite flower.
While I was walking around looking at flowers, I came across what I thought was a cornmeal ring on the ground. I called Erin over and showed it to her and we speculated at the time that it was related to a Native American custom. That area around Flagstaff, including particularly Sunset Crater and Humphrey's Peak, are sacred to the Navajo. Turns out that, according to Thomas Raitt the author of "The Ritual Meaning of Corn Pollen Among the Navajo Indians," we were mostly correct - "In certain contexts the application of corn pollen to something functions as an act of sanctifying or consecrating that to a very special and sacred use." The circle we found likely asked for a blessing for the campsite, designated the spot as their temporary hogan. At least that's what I got from Raitt's article; if anyone reads this and knows first hand, let me know in the comments or via e-mail. In any case, we slept better there that night alongside that presumed blessing.
I'm getting a little out of hand with the pictures here, so I'll stop and let you see them all over on our Flickr page.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The documentary is part the new "Americana" series that VBS is doing and hopefully there will be more to come. It's presented by Levi's and Filson. It looks like those brands have teamed up to make some sturdy work clothes - "Levi's Workwear by Filson." I found some photos here.
So, head on over to VBS.TV and watch "The Oregon Fire Lines" and peruse the other videos too. It's about 15 minutes long.
The layers of sediment along the walls are turned upward from the force of the impact; the rock is folded. The rocks surrounding the crater are actually very old rocks blasted out of the earth by the impact. They're usually found far below ground. Oh, and it's over half a mile in diameter, so it's pretty huge. It's privately owned, still by the Barringer family, so the entrance fee is kind of steep compared to what NPS charges to see similar things. It's $15 a person, $3 more than the mere $12 that gets an individual a look at the Grand Canyon, but I'd say it's still worth going to see. There aren't loads of well-preserved meteor impact craters lying around everywhere.
This is the floor of Meteor Crater and those pieces of equipment are from Barringer's mining attempts.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Walnut Canyon was inhabited by a group of Native Americans that archeologists call the Sinagua people. The Sinagua and other tribes left other cliff dwellings around the southwest. They lived in the area north of the Mogollon Rim (which is the edge of the Colorado Plateau) between the Colorado and the Little Colorado Rivers. Walnut Canyon was inhabited around 1100 A.D. No one is certain why they left or where they went, but some modern Hopi clans are the ancestors of the Sinagua.
Here are some more pictures of Walnut Canyon.
I think this is some sort of aster. If you're a better botanist, please help me out.
Smoke marks from Sinagua fires are still visible on the walls of the cliff houses. Erin also pointed out some fossil sea sponges in many of the rocks.
Friday, August 13, 2010
We weren't the only folks out looked at the meteors. Cars and trucks occupied all the pull-offs on the sides of the forest road. We drove pretty far in, but quite a few other vehicles passed by through the course of the night.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I have to confess that I didn't can all that great looking food in the picture, but I have canned before and I will again. It's a lot of fun.
What I thought I might do is share a couple of recipes we've been making a lot lately. Erin and I love to eat and we're always on the hunt for new things. I don't want to post long or complicated recipes, just some quick and interesting things that have impressed us, like this smoothie recipe I put up awhile back.
Ok, here goes.
#1. Bilberry/Hibiscus Iced Yerba Mate
I made this one up myself.
3 yerba mate bags/ 2 tablespoons of loose mate
1 tablespoon hibiscus flowers
1/2 tablespoon dried bilberries
1 liter of cold water
I do a cold infusion and usually leave the mate to steep overnight in the fridge. I just put in the bags and I put the herbs in a tea ball and put it all in. I take the bags and ball out the next day. I've experimented with adding citrus, vanilla, and mint and they've all been pretty good.
Bilberries are supposed to improve night vision and hibiscus allegedly lowers your blood pressure. Yerba Mate is full of antioxidants.
#2 Overnight Oatmeal
We've found a couple of recipes for overnight oatmeal online and they've been good. Erin likes hers made to this recipe. I added some other good stuff. You just mix it all up in a bowl before you go to bed and eat it in the morning. Cold oatmeal might not be for everyone, but we like it.
1/3 cup oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
3/4 cup soy or almond milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chopped pecans or almond butter
a shitload of fresh blueberries
Chia seeds are full of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. Everything else is pretty good for you too. It gives you a lot of energy.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Columnist Kathleen Ingly outlines the problems facing the mission from both time and idiocy in an article today in the Arizona Republic. To summarize, the mission is undergoing restoration and has been for over a decade. They recently finished restoring the west tower (see photo below) and were moving on to the east tower, but the idiotic state cut the funding. Tough economic times call for such measures, right? Well, not really. The money is supposed to come from The Heritage Fund, a fund appropriated by voters in 1990 for the preservation of natural and cultural state resources. The Heritage Fund is supported by state lottery. Still, couldn't hard economic times demand such actions?
Listen to this. How much would the state have to put into the grant to restore San Xavier? Only $150,000 - small change for such a big project. If the state puts that in, private groups would match funds and help support the $1.5 million restoration. But our garbage government cut ALL the funding for cultural and recreational spending from the Heritage Fund. Ingly points out that the Heritage Fund still gives money to AZ Fish and Game, though. AZ F&G is a complete disgrace since killing Macho B. Macho B was perhaps the final wild jaguar in the United States. If there's money for Fish and Game and there's a little money for San Xavier.
Without the restoration, San Xavier mission is in danger of real structural deterioration. Personally, I would like to see the federal government take over complete management of as many of Arizona's historic and natural sites as possible. The government and many of the people of Arizona are completely incompetent and should not be trusted to preserve places of national cultural significance. For more info, visit Patronato San Xavier.
Friday, August 6, 2010
I'd want to live in an adobe house with an ocotillo fence. I'd want it to be old, but I'd want to create an off-grid scenario as much as possible. Solar panels for the reliable Arizona sun, rain-catchers, lots of porches and awnings. We'd be able to really open the house to the outside with lots of window that open wide and double doors. Tile and wood inside, firepit out back in a brick patio with benches and surrounded by tall cactus.
I don't have the money scenario worked out exactly yet, but I feel this perfect life idea hinges more on independence than money anyhow. I suppose I'd make money keeping bees and making stuff out of things I found in the desert. Prickly pear fruit products, fossils, and things of that nature. Erin looked up kitchen witchcraft the other day and, while we don't attribute spiritual significance to domestic tasks, the idea of being able to make your own soaps, lotions, oils, incense, herbal preparations and such seems like not only a good, healthy way to live, but also as a possible way to make a modest income.
Coyotes, javelina, jackrabbits...we'd have them all rolling through. The cats would have lots to look at from the windows. I'd get rid of all my clothes except shorts made from cut-off pants, old t-shirts, a couple thermal flannels, my Top Siders, and some boots. And during the monsoon, we'd sit outside on the porch and watch the desert flood and the cactus swell. I'd save every devil's claw and hawk's feather I found, give them out free to kids when we sold our honey, prickly pear jelly, and desert products. I'm pretty sure kids have got to like like devil's claws and hawk feathers.
Monday, August 2, 2010
I've got a lot of friends who are really talented writers. It's pretty great. For example, my buddy, Ari Sen, has a clever story called "Chairman Mao, In Retirement" in the new issue of Neon Magazine, available here. Check it out.