Friday, August 30, 2019

Tucson, AZ: Quality of Life: Culture Pass

Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

As someone who lives within a fairly frugal budget, I can tell you that access to some of Tucson's and Arizona's cultural, natural, and recreational amenities is expensive. To wit, for one adult:

Tucson Museum of Art: $12
Tucson Botanical Garden: $15
Reid Park Zoo: $10.50
Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens: $15
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: $22
Saguaro National Park: $20 per vehicle
Catalina State Park: $7 per vehicle
Coronado Recreation Passes: $5 per vehicle

Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

 I remember how poor I was when my daughter was young. If that were today, and if I lived in Tucson, many places would be off limits to us because of the admission fees. There are many, many low-income families in Tucson.

Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

In 2017, more than 18% of Tucsonans lived at or below the poverty line. Twenty-six percent of Tucson's youth lived in poverty. Normally, I would compare Tucson's poverty rate with the US average, but who cares? When it comes to access to arts and sciences cultural centers, parks, etc. in Tucson, it only matters how many Tusconans can't afford to reap the same experiences and knowledge that their more affluent cohorts in Tucson can.

Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

This hurts us as a community, now and in the future.

If children don't know about - see, touch, hear, and talk to - painters, dancers, sculptors, scientists, naturalists, master gardeners, authors, astronomers, biologists, historians, engineers, mathematicians, technicians - how can they normalize these disciplines as accessible to them?

Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

If we can maximize the experiential education of all of our children, and through that, maximize their potential lifetime earnings, it will reverberate through our communities, and to their children, and to their grandchildren.

Besides, access to centers of culture and nature are part of the Declaration of Independence: the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

Access to centers of culture and nature adds to our quality of life.

Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

So ==> When I registered for my Pima County library card, I was mighty impressed to learn about the Culture Pass. Similar to what I'd do with a book, I can "check out" the admission for two people to Tucson-area arts, nature, and sciences centers - at no cost. I have one week to use the admission and then my "loan" automatically returns to the library. I can check out a new venue the following week; two "loans" per month.

Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, Arizona. August 2019.

A companion program to the Culture Pass is the Field Trip pass program for Title 1 schools (schools that serve a large percentage of low-income students).

"The Act One Field Trip Program is a system and a solution for narrowing an opportunity gap that denies students from low-income families equal access to educational arts experiences."


My first Culture Pass admission: Tucson Botanical Gardens. A collection of garden rooms that bid you to sit and be, to gaze and listen, without speaking, and without thinking too much.

Take a minute now, and be with me.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tucson, AZ: Sunset at G5

Tucson sunset at G5, Gates Pass Road. August 2019.

Arizona is so carelessly extravagant with her sunsets, you'd think her audience would get rather blasé about them after viewing twenty, fifty, a hundred, a thousand.

Tucson sunset at G5, Gates Pass Road. August 2019.

But no, the flamboyant sunsets transfix us every blessed time, both in person and vicariously, via other people's photos. We stop what we're doing, inhale deeply, and emit a long, breathy wowwww.

I've embarked on a desultory hunt for the best perch in Tucson for sunset bagging.

Tucson sunset at G5, Gates Pass Road. August 2019.

I've cased the Hacienda del Sol sunset and the Unity sunset. Today I present the G5 audition.

Tucson sunset at G5, Gates Pass Road. August 2019.

G5 is the name of a scenic pullout on Gates Pass Road. I dipped in and out of Gs 3, 4, 6, and 7 before settling on 5 for last evening's sunset show.

Tucson sunset at G5, Gates Pass Road. August 2019.

Tucson sunset at G5, Gates Pass Road. August 2019.

A video below:

The hunt continues.

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

Tucson, AZ: Samaritans Introduction

Border Patrol on watch in desert near El Paso, Texas. December 2016.

"[Our mission is to] hold our government accountable for policies that kill people."

Samaritans training

Every month, the Samaritans present training related to human migration from south to north.

The training occurs at the lovely Southside Presbyterian Church, which was the locale for the Melanie DeMore event sponsored by the Tucson Threshold Choir.

At the Samaritan training, a series of people speak about the Samaritans' work and its context within the history of borderland and migration issues.

Speakers included

1.     Margo Cowan, JD

2.    Guadalupe Castillo, Founding faculty emeritus, Pima County Community College

3.   Dorothy Chao, RN

4.   Ed McCullough, professor emeritus, University of Arizona

Near Antelope Wells, New Mexico. US-MX border. March 2013.

Some notes I took

Note: Any errors that may exist below are mine and not the mistakes of the presenters

Clamping down
  • In the late 1990s is when the border clamped down. 
  • The government started to prosecute people who gave rides across the border, when in the past, that had been a common practice, especially on and near the Tohono O'odham Nation: A Mexican national along the border might need a ride into Arizona, and when they finished conducting their business, they'd get a ride back home in Mexico. 
  • It was during this time that people began to die because they had to walk through the desert.

Near Antelope Wells, New Mexico. US-MX border. March 2013.

In response to the rising death toll, humanitarian groups came to life along the border

The dynamic of ensured group compliance

One of the speakers said (and I'm paraphrasing): "You might wonder why a group of people, when they outnumber the Border Patrol agents who've detained them, don't resist or run away. This is because the Border Patrol employs techniques to ensure group compliance."

From the document, Culture of Cruelty: Abuse and Impunity in Short-Term U.S. Border Patrol Custody, published in 2011 by No More Deaths, based on hundreds of interviews with formerly detained migrants: 
Verbal abuse was particularly common with 1,699 incidents being reported. It demeans and intimidates detainees and may compound  feelings  of  confusion,  helplessness  and  terror  for those in custody. Verbal abuse includes racial and sexist epithets, in addition to threats of sexual violence, used to subjugate and degrade detainees. Furthermore, verbal abuse may include violent threats made credible by public examples of physical abuse and assault. Verbal abuse appears to aid in creating an environment of intimidation, fear and compliance among detainees. Typical forms of verbal abuse included:
• Derogatory racial, ethnic, and sexual epithets
• Profanity
• Yelling  and  screaming  for  no  apparent  reason,  both  in  the field and in processing centers
[I added the highlighted emphasis.]

An example of a public assault by a BP agent in front of a group: Throwing someone into cactus.

When encountering people on the move
  1. No, we cannot "aid and abet" with transport "in furtherance of illegal presence." 
  2. No, we don't let someone use our phone, but we can get the number of the person's family so we can call the family when we return home, assuring them that we saw their family member alive
  3. Yes, we can share water and food with people on the move. 

But what if we encounter someone who is very sick or injured?
  • Let the person know where they are
  • Give them the best information we have re: likelihood of making it to their destination in their condition so they can make an informed decision about our calling for medical rescue

Border Patrol has a permanent presence in every ER in Arizona. 

Some historical context that affect the borderlands

"American exceptionalism has replaced 'manifest destiny'"
Guadalupe Castillo

American exceptionalism is one or a combination of three ideas:
  1. American history is substantively different from other countries' histories;
  2. America's mission is to transform the world; and
  3. America's history and mission makes it superior over other nations. 
Based on my limited research into this, it appears that our so-called exceptionalism presumes a starter yeast of White Protestant Christian and White Western European culture.

Ms. Castillo proposed that the strictures against migration are not just about color, but about class. "The borders are open if you are the 1% or the middle class." offers a succinct definition of manifest destiny: "... the United States was destined—by God, its advocates believed—to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent."

Despite the bleakness of some of Ms. Castillo's history narrative, she ended with a powerful thought:

"These people who are in movement are the ones who are going to change the world."

Notice the absence of the word "the" before "movement." In other words, she refers to the people who are part of today's migration, not to an organized activist movement.

Counting deaths

The Border Patrol only counts the remains of those it finds, which is only about half the number that Pima County has had in its morgue.

The Border Patrol's accounting method reminds me of the controversy over the Vietnam War body counts.

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