Maybe it’s not the mandala that’s hot. Maybe it’s the state of Arizona. There is no way to tell the difference.
One thing’s for certain, and that is that it’s imperative to fix my scanner. Ever since I updated my OS, it doesn’t seem to like its own drivers that came with the device and were running fine before I started running Jackelope or Elephant-Bird, or whatever the heck they call this operating system. Puma. Adidas. No idea.
I got Comiconned out, or maybe I was just Phoenix-ed out. At any rate, I need to get out of the city and be someplace without other people, so The Man drove me the VERY long way home–as in, Phoenix is northeast of Tucson, but by the time we got to Tucson we were approaching it from the southwest. We turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour one, counting severals stops for me to tromp around the desert taking pictures of flowers and birds. Got some great shots, like this one of a red-tailed hawk leaping into the air. Finally had the macro lens and the elusive desert poppy in the same place at the same time, too. Well, the desert poppy actually isn’t elusive at all. It’s fairly ubiquitous in the spring and summer in certain parts of the state, but it tends to favor the high desert, and I tend to exist in the low desert, so this is the first time I’ve documented its fabulous insides. Will share soon.
I did have a good time at Comicon, but it was so huge and I didn’t have a good plan of attack and it was overwhelming. I met some really cool artists and writers, including the inimitable Phil Foglio (Girl Genius) along with Larry Welz (Cherry), along with some less famous dudes, most notably this guy Russ Kazmierczak, with whom I randomly got into a massive discussion about Alan Moore, the history of comics, and the deeper meaning of superheroes. He was so pleased with my conversation that he gave me his comic for free. He said it was because I saw graphic storytelling in the same way he did, and I’m going to believe that it was for that reason, and not because I was wearing a media badge.
ETA: WordPress just informed me that this is my 500th blog post at QWERTYvsDvorak. And all I got was this stupid virtual trophy. Plus a massive portfolio of ridiculous art.
Slightly more enticing than the average guy wearing a “FREE HUGS” sign around his neck.
A couple years back, The Man took me to see some a friend perform standup comedy at a local club. One of other comedians doing a set that night was from out of town, and it might have been his first time in the desert. He tried out what was obviously a joke he had just thought of on his way into town, about the saguaro cacti and how they held their arms with a pugilistic attitude, making them all look like they wanted to fight.
He didn’t get any laughs with that joke, and I think it was because it was too easy, and it didn’t go far enough. Those of us who live here know that they don’t all look like they want to fight. Some of them do, but some of them look like they want to shake hands, reach something off a high shelf, or push people away, or hold them tenderly. A lot of them look like they want to hold you tenderly.
A lot of them look like they’re really proud to have sprouted arms that resemble genitalia, and then want to show those appendages off to you.
The point is, saguaros all have a lot of personality, in a way that can’t be said for every type of plant. They’re distinguishable, and while there are some with a particularly classic shape, no 2 are alike, and they’re easy to anthropomorphize.
Springtime starts early in southern Arizona. We’re halfway to summer already, and there are tiny flowers everywhere. This first image is from a lime tree in my backyard. It took years to make up its mind as to whether it was going to live or die, but it finally decided to live and be 8 feet tall and make limes. Last year it made 3 limes. This year should be better; there are tons of flowers.
I took another picture where the tinier bud is more in focus. I might play with combining the 2 images, but this one is not retouched. None of these images are retouched.
My husband’s ex is a professional grower of exceedingly large hydroponic tomatoes, so we often end up with her extra. Sometimes it’s tomatoes (her major customer is the food service at the local university, so she always has extra when school’s out) and sometimes it’s plants (since she only has room for a fixed number of starts). These plants seem pretty happy in the back yard. We’re keeping them in pots, because tomatoes are so sensitive to the heat. I have trouble keeping them alive in beds.
Santa Catalina prairie clover
Now we move out of my backyard and into the desert. I had a little trouble identifying this one at first, but I believe it is probably a Santa Catalina prairie clover. I was confused at first because there’s another type of prairie clover that doesn’t look at all like this one, but when I dug a little deeper, this seemed like a good match. The fact that I took the photograph in the Santa Catalina Mountains lends credence to this hypothesis.
Baja Fairy Duster
I could photograph these things all day. And every picture would be different. Different bits of the flower could come into focus. In different light, the colors would change. I like this image because you can see the tips of each petal-like structure. I assume there’s a name for the parts of this kind of flower, but I’m not finding it.
I’m not 100% on my ID of this one, because you can’t see enough of the stalk to be certain, but I looked at a couple 100 pictures of yellow desert flowers and common fiddleneck seemed like the best match. This was the only tiny trumpet-shaped non-tree flower of the lot. And these things are tiny. They’re the tiniest flowers in this post, even tinier than the lime bud.
If you don’t recall the New Wave band Big Country and their hit single “In a Big Country,” go ahead and familiarize yourself with this seminal work of early ’80s pop music. It’s got a catchy beat and a good message. If you’re not familiar with ’80s music, don’t get freaked out by the intro. Just go with it.
Yesterday, I wrote down some quotes that I thought of using for the holiday bulletin board, and I stuck them in my wallet, and then I left my wallet at home when I came back and couldn’t remember the quotes. This song gets stuck in my head sometimes, though, and the clock was ticking. Long story short, because nothing got started yesterday, this one really came down to the wire. I didn’t have any extra time, and ended up going 45 minutes over my budgeted time, which explain why I screwed up the text so badly. I can’t believe that last E got stuck on the sun. It’s really upsetting. There are like 12 things I could have done differently to avoid that situation, but there it is. When you don’t schedule properly, and you rush, things don’t come out as well. All of the Es are too big, and I knew they were, but these were from the second batch and I was too frustrated to make a third, and now I regret it.
So full of regret was I that I forgot I already had a blog post for tonight and started a comic, which is now finished, to I have tomorrow’s post as well. Bonus, I guess.
Popsicles? I don’t eat ’em myself. Could go for a cup of hot coffee, though.
Last week the Girl and I were running some errands and, while driving about 4 miles from one store to another, we saw 5 people dressed all in black, with long sleeves and long pants. It was about 105 degrees. Today I saw a dude in a black hoodie and he was wearing the hood part. Walking down the road. In 105 degrees. I like the heat and all, but, damn. People are crazy. It’s sick hot here. Most people wear tank tops and shorts, and plenty of people carry umbrellas or parasols. It’s not at all weird to see some big tough guy carrying a pink parasol. The sun is that brutal. And then there are the people dressed like they’re going to a funeral in North Dakota, not even carrying a bottle of water.
Don’t even get me started on the people out exercising at lunchtime.
Here’s to you, people dressed for the winter while walking around one of the hottest parts of the country during what will most likely be remembered as the hottest summer on record (until next summer, probably).
Fortunately, ice cream and quiescently frozen treats are easy to come by around here.
This is more or less a true story, as long as you accept the premise that I have such a deep personal understanding of my cat that I understand the precise meanings of her vocalizations. Fairly certain this translation is accurate. The only thing that I’ve exaggerated is the size of the lemon tree and its proximity to the pool. Everyone knows you can’t plant trees that close to an in-ground pool.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for someone who has to walk around in a heavy black coat in the desert summer, but at the same time, she also has the option of hanging out in the air conditioning and waiting until the sun goes down to hang out outside. I get that she wants to be near me, but given her typical feline disdain for swimming, it’s hard to see why. Like, we don’t have to be together all the time (that you’re awake), Cat. When I’m doing stuff you don’t like, such as hanging out in the sun or submerging my body in water, you’re not required to join me. It’s your choice, meaning it’s really not cool for you to complain about it the whole time.
Fortunately for desert cats, there are always cool tile floors upon which to splay ones furry limbs.
For the record, the cat is perfectly capable of swimming. I once saw her swim the entire length of the pool to get away from a another cat that was threatening her. So she could totally jump in and join me instead of whining about it.
Anyway, this comic took about 5 hours to draw, and it among the best ones I’ve done so far. I’ve come a decent way in a year and a half. Maybe I will be ready for my next big project when the script is finished, hopefully in August.
Monday was a good day! My article about Jews in comics got a good reception, and mercury got up over 102, which means a couple things: my fingers and toes and nose didn’t get frozen even when The Man blasted the cooler, zero traffic picking the kids up from the first day of camp (people flee this city when it gets hot), and the pool finally reached 80 degrees! Hooray. Now I have a compelling reason to get my butt off this couch. I will be conducting all further business from within the confines of my swimming pool.
People sometimes ask how to survive in the desert in the summer. This is how to survive in the desert in the summer. Also, we have an ice maker.
One thing I spend a lot of time doing in the pool is rescuing bees from drowning. I guess when we’re not in it it’s flat enough that they don’t break the surface tension, but the kids and I must have pulled 15 bees out of the water in 30 minutes. Well, I pulled most of them and the Boy got a couple. The Girl is still timid, even though she’s seen me do it a thousand times. Seriously, the last thing a drowning bee is thinking of is stinging you.
You can observe them very minutely when they’re all wet and out of sorts. They shake their wings vigorously, too fast for the human eye to see, and use their front legs to brush the water off their midsection. They even brush off their long tongues. If they’re still wet, they lean onto their front legs and use their back legs to dry themselves. The longer they’ve been in the water, the more time they take to combobulate themselves.
This mandala reminds me of butterscotch and toffee and caramel: all the mostly-sugar candies, and also, of course, honey.