Monday, August 19, 2019

Tucson, AZ: Ghost Bikes

In memory of Francisco "David" Galdez, Tucson, Arizona. 1st Street. August 2019.

I'd seen them around the city, of course, but I didn't know their purpose.

Ideas I considered:

But neither quite fit. For one, all of the bikes were white, so not much artistic variety. Second, they didn't seem a good design for a bike rack.

It wasn't until my day trip to Globe, where I saw another white bike, that I determined to look 'em up.

Ghost bikes.

To commemorate the spot where a cyclist died on the road.

In memory of Miguel Quintera, Tucson, Arizona. 1st Street. August 2019.

History of the global memorials here.

In memory of Francisco "David" Galdez, Tucson, Arizona. 1st Street. August 2019.

Here are stats on cycling deaths in the U.S. in 2018. Tucson seems to be under the radar. On the other hand, this report states Tucson is the 2nd most dangerous city for cyclists.

In memory of Miguel Quintera, Tucson, Arizona. 1st Street. August 2019.

I've found that I have to be much more alert driving in Tucson than any other city I've lived in, due to the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists.

In memory of Miguel Quintera, Tucson, Arizona. 1st Street. August 2019.

I'm not complaining. I'm delighted to be in a city that strives to care for all of the modalities of travel on its thoroughfares. I used to live in a city where the joke was: "It's a great place to raise a car."

Cyclists in Tbilisi, Caucasus Georgia. September 2011.

Here are some best practices for city and street designs to respect the safety and ease of cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and people with mobility assists:

Rental bikes, Sunset Heights, El Paso, Texas. August 2016.

Dan Burden used to be the walkable-community guy - I even had the privilege to hear him present once. He's still very much in the game. Take a look at AmericaWalks.

Cyclist achieving summit, Sandia Mountains, New Mexico. November 2008.

A month ago, a Tucson cyclist died in a collision with a car.

One soul maintains a public spreadsheet on bicycle fatalities in Arizona.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Tucson, AZ: Food Rescue

Food rescue, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

Soon after I landed in Tucson, I learned about the food rescue program, where one could pay $10 or $12 and receive up to 60 or 70 pounds in produce. This hit all of my buttons: Frugality! fruits and vegetables! doing a good deed!

One of my housemates in my temporary Tucson base was a devotee of Tucson food banks, and perhaps also the food rescue. He made several forays each week to his hunting grounds, bringing back massive quantities of food. Once he brought home grilled salmon!

The food banks, appropriately, have income ceilings, but the public food rescue programs are for anyone who plops down their 10 or 12 bucks.

One of my students from another country expressed some surprise at this, saying: "Shouldn't this be restricted to the poor"?

Well, no. Reasons why it's good to offer food rescue to the general public: 
  1. Stigmas about food banks keep some eligible folks from using a food bank; by paying for the produce, there is no stigma
  2. Furthermore, when you see consumers who appear to be of every socio-economic group at a food rescue station, it further validates that food rescue is for everyone to participate in, not just low-income folks
  3. Besides: Why should low-income folks only get stuff that might otherwise be considered undesirable?
  4. Because it is not uncommon for some of the produce to be, shall we say, "elderly," many members of the general public will self-select out of the food rescue stations, as they prefer to pay by the pound for fresh produce at their favorite grocery stores
  5. Someone who pays something for food is more likely to find a way to consume it (or share it) rather than letting it go to waste because there was no cost
  6. Less food goes to waste

Food rescue, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

The operation in Tucson I've become familiar with is Borderlands' Produce on Wheels. It operates in several Arizona cities, and in Tucson, at least in August, it has two stations that volunteers set up each week, which sometimes move from one location to another during the month.

The first week, I received:
  • Tomatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Anaheim peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Small watermelons

The second week:
  • Tomatoes
  • Red grapes
  • Butternut squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Red peppers

The third week:
  • Eggplant
  • Green grapes
  • Tomatillos
  • Pumpkins
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Mangoes 
  • Serrano peppers

Food rescue, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

 Here's a 2016 Borderlands video about its program:

Another advantage of food rescue is the introduction of unfamiliar vegetables and fruits to consumers. My daily diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, yet I'm naive about some items.

I experimented with the Anaheim peppers I received my first week. I roasted them in a skillet, then inserted them into a two-egg omelette. Holy moly, that was good. Like a chile relleno experience, only healthier. If any appear in a future rescue event, I will mentally clap my hands together like a little girl.

The serrano peppers I got in yesterday's harvest - tasty, but too much heat for me to enjoy in my everyday world.

I had never roasted a pumpkin until yesterday. Beautiful, luxurious orange flesh; roasted up just fine in the oven. Glad for the experience, but it was more liquidy than I like, thus squashes such as butternut, acorn, and spaghetti still have my heart.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Arizona: Globe

Besh-Ba-Gowah, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

I began my exploration of State Highway 77, which extends from Tucson (as Oracle Road) up past Holbrook to the edge of Navajo Nation. I made a modest plan for the day with the town of Globe as my destination.

Besh-Ba-Gowah, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.


I spent the largest chunk of my Globe time at the ancient Salado community called Besh-Ba-Gowah, which is what the Apache called Globe in the 1800s: "Town of Metal," in recognition of its mining industry.

I'm not all that much into ancient ruins, preferring more modern-day ruins. But the Besh-Ba-Gowah site is accessible to most folks and is very much part of a living town. 

It's so much a part of a living town that it literally butts against an athletic field. At first, I found this slightly unsettling, as in: Hey, you're messing with my head-in-the-past vibe, but after that initial reaction, I did a 180, finding that I very much appreciated how two epochs sat side-by-side. 

Besh-Ba-Gowah, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

 Oooh, but watch out for the ants there! The place teemed with them.

Ants at Besh-Ba-Gowah, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

Two barrel cacti hosted a drunken party of ginger arthropods. Birds squeaked overhead, but in the video below, you can imagine the chirruping coming from the ants:

There's a good reason there are so many ants on the barrel cactus. From an article here:

The barrel cactus is an important partner for lots of desert species. Not only does the plant receive pollination from insects and seed dispersal from vertebrates, but it also hires ants to defend it against insect herbivores. It does this by producing sugary nectar that the ants can feed on.

A couple of bees tussled briefly over nectar in this video:

The Besh-Ba-Gowah museum had real pottery shards to smooth one's fingerpads over. It felt special to touch the same surfaces held by our first Americans so many centuries ago. A way to hold the hands of our antecedents.

Besh-Ba-Gowah, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

The differences among preservation, conservation, restoration, renovation, and reconstruction interest me. This sign presents a quickie explanation of stabilization and reconstruction:

Besh-Ba-Gowah, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

A plethora of lizards, of course. This lithe one tucked himself behind a stone face, but hey little dude, I could still see your curled tail!

Besh-Ba-Gowah, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

A garden is adjacent to the ruins and museum; there is also a lower botanical garden, which is a ribbon along a path.

Besh-Ba-Gowah, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

Overall, I received many utils of pleasure in return for the investment of a four-hour round trip drive. There's a tight little museum with artifacts gleaned from the site, a video that's not too long and not too short, pleasant museum staff, an interesting and accessible ruin site itself, and two gardens to stroll.

Holy Angels Catholic Church


My favorite stained glass window: the holy flautist, as she reminded me of a Celtic flautist friend.

Holy Angels Catholic Church, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

One discordant note, however. I get that pews and statuary and windows often have the names of the donors inscribed on same. But it discomfits me for the Christ over the altar to also have the donor's name. It makes me think of a sports stadium that has no sense of place at all, but only the name of a corporation.

Holy Angels Catholic Church, Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

This Mass brought to you by .....

A slide show of Arizona State Highway 77 below (inclusive of Globe):

Arizona: State Highway 77

Friday, August 9, 2019

Arizona: State Highway 77: South of Globe

Picnic overlook, State Highway 77, south of Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

A field trip to Globe, Arizona, today.

Picnic overlook, State Highway 77, south of Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

Felt so good to be on the road just to be on the road, a destination in mind just for the sake of a destination, but no big plan.

Picnic overlook, State Highway 77, south of Globe, Arizona. August 2019.


Picnic overlook, State Highway 77, south of Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

Rolling and winding road; listening to my music library, set to shuffle, so it took me from Patsy Cline to Bobby Blue Bland to Red Elvises to some Burundi tunes to Chubby Carrier to Mulatu Astatke to Massive Attack to SheDaisy to ....

Picnic overlook, State Highway 77, south of Globe, Arizona. August 2019.


Picnic overlook, State Highway 77, south of Globe, Arizona. August 2019.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Tucson, AZ: Tohono Chul Botanical Garden: Crested Saguaro, Pack Rats, and Eggs

Tohono Chul, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

I went for a guided morning walk at Tohono Chul Botanical Garden.

Jojoba. Tohono Chul, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

There was a slight breeze, welcome cloud cover, relatively cool temperatures ... at first. Later in the walk, hot and heavy air descended, making me sweat.

Crested saguaro. Tohono Chul, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

The crested saguaro stole the show on this tour.

Crested saguaro with prickly pear stowaway. Tohono Chul, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

The guide pointed out the prickly pear growing out of the saguaro's crown. What a cheery surprise! You can find other examples in a fellow blogger's article, What's in That Hole, including two in Tohono Chul.

I'd have never figured that the haphazard pile of sticks and other desert clutter below was, in fact, a carefully-designed pack rat abode.

Pack rat nest. Tohono Chul, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

A few weeks ago, I learned that in areas where pack rats abound, car owners keep their vehicle hoods raised during the day, while they're at work, to deter pack rats from climbing under the hood and chewing on wires, hoses, and tubes and the like.

The ubiquitous lizards ran their rounds throughout the park, of course.

Lizard. Tohono Chul, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

Eggs feature on several art installations at the botanical gardens.

Art eggs. Tohono Chul, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

A cumulative slide show of Tohono Chul Botanical Garden photos below:

Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Tucson, AZ: Titan Missile Museum

Titan Missile Museum, near Tucson, Arizona. July 2019.

There's an allure to visiting Really Big Shit.

Also: Nerdy Stuff.

And: Scary, Apocryphal Places that I only really want to be real in science fiction, and not in real life.

Titan Missile Museum, near Tucson, Arizona. July 2019.

The Titan Missile Museum meets all of the above criteria. Fortunately, there is also levity to be had. For example, I almost bought this kids' lunch sack. I craved it. Nostalgic thoughts of the Jetsons and Robert Heinlein.

Titan Missile Museum, near Tucson, Arizona. July 2019.

And this piece of equipment thrilled me. I have no idea what it is. For some reason it reminds me of Marvin the Martian from the Looney Tunes cartoon.

Titan Missile Museum, near Tucson, Arizona. July 2019.

Which, when I sought the Martian, made me wonder what is the similarity? Dunno. The mind is sometimes inscrutable. But some blasts from that past:

It wasn't too long in the Titan Missile tour when I realized that mostly I just wanted to see:
  1. A Really Big Missile, and maybe touch it
  2. Flashing buttons, spinning dials, and words like "Top Secret" and "Do Not Touch!" 

Titan Missile Museum, near Tucson, Arizona. July 2019.

The two docents were obviously knowledgeable about the Titan Missile program, but they threw too much content at us at too high a speed. It was like hearing fast-talking news commentators on the broadcast channels, which I find irritating. I began to tune out the docents' spiels pretty quickly, finding looped cables and wheels and other distractions more appealing.

Titan Missile Museum, near Tucson, Arizona. July 2019.

And listen, the Titan Missile Museum is not my first rodeo for this genre of tourist attraction; most times my attention stays focused on what the docent is saying.

You can see an interactive map of the tour here. Below is a copy of the map, but you'll need to go the link in the previous sentence to avail yourself of the interactivity. Source: Titan Missile Museum.

Titan Missile Museum, near Tucson, Arizona. July 2019.

Monsoon clouds convened over the mountains as we emerged from down below.

Titan Missile Museum, near Tucson, Arizona. July 2019.

As always, it unsettles my spirit when there is beauty and serenity in a place of death. Yes, yes, I know, I know: The goal of the Titan Missile program was to prevent mass destruction instead of wreak it. Still, the missile is an agent of destruction. .... And yes, it is immaturity on my part to resist this truth: There is a dark side that exists - always - in nature, in societies, in families, in each of us.

Titan Missile Museum, near Tucson, Arizona. July 2019.

A slide show below of my visit to the Titan Missile Museum:

Arizona: Titan Missile Museum

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Word of the Year 2019: Action: Lipstick and Salvation

Adelita comics, Museum of the Revolution, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. February 2017.

Curious juxtapositions.

A security contingent for President Bush the Younger breaks a homemade, Pray for Peace, sign that my friend, Kate, brought to a protest.

Kate and presidential security at protest in Jefferson City, Missouri. Photo credit: Jenna Isaacson. April 2006.

A devilish dilemma between celestial salvation and the earthly decadence of pie, in tiny Rodeo, New Mexico.

Salvation or decadent pie? Rodeo, New Mexico. March 2013.

The promise of cookies to munch while talking of oppression and privilege at UTEP in El Paso.

Brown bag lunch for privilege and oppression series, UTEP. El Paso, March 2017.

In today's post, it's about action and lipstick. 

There is a little 12-step treatise that guides the reader how to manage a day. In one section, it goes like this:
Just for today: I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I  can, dress becomingly, keep  my voice low, be courteous, ...

Which takes me to good counsel from my mother many years ago about the value of making one's bed every day and cleaning off the kitchen counters. "These are small and easy tasks," she said, "but they make a tremendous impact" on how a room looks and how you feel.

There are so many unmanageable events, conditions, and people around us. I can give myself a little quality-of-life order in a chaotic world by making my bed, wiping down a kitchen counter, wearing clothes that I feel pretty in ... and putting on lipstick.

It's not only about me.

In one of my past lives, I was a cog in a government program designed to help low-income dads find sustainable work so they could better support their kids financially.** At one program design meeting, a colleague proposed that we refer to ourselves and our dad-clients by our first names so the men would "feel more comfortable." It rankled me then; it rankles me now. It bespoke a fundamental disrespect for the men, unintentional on its surface, but deep down, a presumption that there was a lack of honorifics in the men's personal communities.

This might seem to veer away from a conversation about lipstick and salvation, but for me, there's a connection. Because, sure, when I apply lipstick, it is about me, and my desire to "look as well as I can, to dress becomingly, ...." But when I apply lipstick on my way out the door to support, or protest, or walk in alliance with someone, it is also me giving that person or group the same kind of respect that I give to a companion if we were to go to a fine restaurant or a party or out dancing.

(A man once lamented to me how his mother puts lipstick on for the arrival of his brother, but never for him, which, in his mind, proves that their mother values his brother more than him.)

So I had to smile a few weeks ago when I did my first water run with Humane Borders. Our group of four bounced and bumped on a rutted gravel-then-dirt road in a big ol' truck to places only visited with any frequency by Harris hawks and jack rabbits. At one of the water barrel stations, we took a snack break, after which one of my fellow volunteers shared regretfully, "Oh, I left my lipstick at home, and now that I've had a bite to eat, I can't re-apply any." I laughed appreciatively. Yes! I knew exactly the disappointment!

A week later, I answered an urgent evening call for volunteers to welcome the arrival of 30 new refugee guests at the Benedictine Monastery-cum-refugee shelter. As I approached the main door, another volunteer met me. She informed me that the guests had been successfully absorbed into the shelter, so neither of us were needed, adding, "And here I'd put on my lipstick and came over as soon as I could!"

And I laughed, and exclaimed: "Me, too!"

I'm no Adelita with stiletto heels and cinched waist, but lipstick, oh yes. Bring it to the revolution.

I'm pretty sure she's wearing lipstick. La Batalla Por Juarez, Carlos Flores, Chamizal National Monument exhibit, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.

** Tee hee hee. "Sustainable work." That's how things began, but they soon segued into funneling folks into low-paying, low-to-no-benefit jobs in chicken and turkey processing plants.