Sunday, April 25, 2010

Joe Arpaio, Retiree-Wannabe

You probably know Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio even if you aren´t from Arizona. He´s been on national TV many times, from 60 Minutes to all points left and right. Sometimes he has appeared as a guest, but more often he is the subject of an expose´. He has dubbed himself the Toughest Sheriff in America. He brags about feeding prisoners on 50 cents a day, houses many of them in Tent City (in Phoenix where the summer temperatures are hot, hot, hot), and makes the men wear pink underwear. In other words, he´s a showboat of the worst sort. The kind of man who feeds his ego at the expense of others. And now he´s thinking of doing it again.

Now he is considering running as Governor of Arizona. Not because he has any experience or background that qualifies him. Not because he has a platform that he thinks will improve Arizona. He is thinking about running because, he says, he loves challeges and he knows he can win.

Sadly, he may be right about that. In many circles he is very popular, in spite of costing Maricopa County millions of dollars in lawsuits, ruining lives, and creating an atmosphere that fosters fear and disrespect for the law.

For the last couple of years the sheriff has directed his officers to go after ordinary workers--gardeners, cooks, domestics--instead of going after criminals wanted on felony warrants. Arpaio has consistently, and with the backing of former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, engaged in racial profiling in order to round up thousands of hard working men and women whose only crime was being non-white and non-English speaking.

Some of the people may not have had documentation that allowed them to be here in the United States under federal immigration law. However, contrary to Arpaio and Thomas´publicity blurbs, being undocumented is NOT a crime. It subjects the person to removal from the country, but it is not a criminal offense.

But that kind of factual information doesn´t make for a splashy headline or a glib 60 second sound bite.

Even worse, the two of them together have targeted political adversaries and used the criminal justice system to arrest and prosecute people who disagreed with them. The latest targets even included judges! The suits have all been dismissed, but not until many of the people were physically arrested and all of them were required to defend themselves against fabricated and flimsy charges.

And now Joe Arpaio wants to be in a position where he can wreck even more havoc on Arizona. Just so he can enjoy a challenge.

Please, Joe--don´t do it. Arizona has enough problems.

Read this blog. Look at all the pretty pictures of Arizona´s flora and fauna. Retirement would be great! I want to be a retiree! You should want to be one, too. Arizona deserves it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Octopus Agaves

The Octopus Agave that we have had for about five years is in full bloom now. There seem to be a lot of them in bloom around Sun City Grand this year. I suspect it has more to do with the amount of water that we received earlier this year than to the age of the plant.

I´ve taken a lot of pictures of it. Soon it will be our only reminder of it and its beauty. Once the agave blooms, it dies.

Some people here in Grand cut off the stalk, apparently in an attempt to save the plant. On a walk recently we saw one on that had been chopped off and left lying in the yard. A very sad sight.

I don´t think cutting off the stalk will do anything except keep the plant from dying a glorious death. The plant was made to grow in the desert until conditions are favorable for its offsping to survive. Usually that means when there is available water. The beautiful spike will shed little agaves, some of which will survive.

This photo was taken a few weeks ago, before the flowers opened. They began opening from the bottom and worked their way up. Here is a close-up taken at the same time.

We nearly lost this agave a few years ago to weevils. Kent spent a lot of time battling them, and we weren´t sure if the plant would make it. Some of the damage can still be seen.
I´m glad it made it. It looks stunning in the center of the mound.
It was inevitable that it was going to die sometime. Now it has been able to go out in all of its glory, the way nature intended, and with the chance of leaving a little of itself behind.
A perfect way to depart this Earth.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Giants Among Us: Argentine Giants in Bloom

We have two Argentine Giants in our yard. When they are not in bloom, they look drab. The kind of plant you walk past without noticing. But when they bloom, they are spectacular.

This one is at the back of the yard and has grown a lot since I took this photo a few years ago.

You have to be quick to get the blooms at their peak. They are at their best for only a day or two--but what a show!
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fiddlenecks and Globe Mallows

Here are a few more pictures from the White Tanks.
Fiddlenecks were very plentiful this year.
The breeze always seemed to pick up whenever I clicked the shutter! Of all the pictures I took, this was the sharpest of the flower detail.

Globe Mallow comes in orange and yellow, but I only saw orange ones at the White Tanks. They stood out against the Brittlebush and lupines.

We saw a number of hikers on the Black Rock Loop trail, many of them with cameras. But the area is so large that it never seemed crowded. The Black Rock trail is a very easy couple of miles. In fact, the first part of it is groomed enough for a wheelchair or stroller. It isn´t paved so it wouldn´t be easy, but it is do-able. The longer loop has some rolling spots, nothing too adventurous, and some rocky paths. But it is a very easy, enjoyable hike.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

White Tanks Park Continues Its Show

Three weeks ago we went to the White Tanks and took photos of the wildflowers. Today Kent and I went out again. The Brittlebush was spectacular. The hillsides are awash with their yellow flowers. Kent took this photo of the saguaro surrounded by them.

The cactus in the center is a type of cholla. They look soft and harmless--but they´re not!

We saw four lizards today. This was one of the bigger ones. When we were here 3 weeks ago, we didn´t see any. They have come out around our house, too. They dart from shrub to shrub, taking care to not be too easy of a target for the Roadrunners and other large birds that eat them.

Posted by PicasaThis is a hedgehog cactus. Beautiful!

For some reason Blogger didn´t want to upload more than 4 pictures today. I have lots more--but I will have to save the others for the next time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Earthquakes and Forest Fires

The topic around the office watercooler on Monday was the earthquake that shook Baja on Sunday afternoon.

My boss, who has a house in Yuma, felt the quake the most. Fortunately it didn´t cause any damage to her place.

I had seen our chandelier moving, but I didn´t realize it was from an earthquake. Blissful ignorance. Our house is an open plan and not all that big. We had finished a delicious Easter lunch and had moved to the living room couches, about six feet from the table. While the four of us were talking, I noticied that the chandelier was swaying a lot. But we had the ceiling fan going, and I chalked it up to air currents. Odd, I thought, but I didn´t want to interrupt the conversation to point out a light fixture. A minute or two later, and all was calm. After that I didn´t think anything else about it.

Later, after our friends went home, Kent fired up the computer to check the news. That was when he saw the earthquake info and called me. Neither of us had felt a thing. Then I remembered the chandelier.

A few years ago, I remember hearing about a book, The Unthinkable, that was written by Amanda Ripley. The book studies people´s reactions to sudden, tramatic events. There are people who react immediately and then there are folks who stare and ponder for a while. Guess we know which one I would be. The upshot is, of course, that the ponder-ers don´t always survive.

Since the earthquake didn´t affect Phoenix, it hasn´t gotten much attention. The new headlines in the newspaper yesterday warned people that the lush and lovely desert we are enjoying now may turn into wildfires later. The article warned that as soon as the blooms fade and the heat returns, the growth will turn into dry chapparal, tinder for potential fires.

The article came with a bullet list of things to do now, like keep weeds cut back away from the house. We are not in any danger here since our association frowns on the Natural Look. Our grounds are as manicured as a model. But in other places the trend is to let the desert grow naturally, sometimes hiding the homes from view. This can be beautiful but deadly if there is a bad fire season. So I hope the predictions are wrong, and I hope people take precautions. After the chandalier-quake lesson above, I am going to be more alert. If I smell smoke, I will not assume someone is having a Bar-B-Que.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

This is an Easter Egg Emu Bush that is in bloom in the front yard.

A close-up of the flowers.

We are celebrating with our friends today. We are dividing up the cooking, as we do on a lot of holidays. They will be arriving in a few hours. We are fortunate to have such great, long-time friends here in Sun City Grand. We all met years ago when we all flew gliders at Caesar Creek Soaring Club.

We wish we could be with our son and daughter-in-law (and grandpuppy, of course). I have to go to work tomorrow, and I have limited vacation time. That is the real reason for wanting to be a retiree. I love my job, but it is so hard to be away from family at the holidays.

But of course we are not the only ones away from family. Many people are separated for many different reasons. I hope you are all able to spend time with your family today, whether they are your first family or your adopted one.

Happy Easter to All

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Desert in Bloom - White Tanks Park

The wet weather in February has paid off in beautiful wildflowers. The desert is now green and lush.
These photos were taken at the White Tanks, a Maricopa County park near where I live. One of my favorite places for a Sunday visit, which this was. The pix were taken March 25. The blue Lupines were spectacular.
I´m not sure of the name of this cactus. Claret Hedgehog, perhaps? The color was too good to pass up. Had to get down on my knees to get a close up, too!

These are Mexican Gold Poppies. We also sawBrittlebush and lots of blooms, which means I must go back next weekend. The creosote bushes smelled so good, too. I love their scent, although I know it isn´t for everyone.
We didn´t see any wildlife other than a few birds. I said it was too early for rattlesnakes--but I was wrong! Someone told me her neighbor had gone for a family hike this week and saw one in the parking lot!
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Friday, April 2, 2010

Wolves as Teachers

Kent found this great clip of wolves being used to teach leadership skills on the BBC site.

The detectives are okay, but the wolves are fantastic. Enjoy!