So now. If you ever have the chance, VISIT.

I took so many photos, but they can't do justice to the full experience of coming here and walking around in the space.

Somehow, the monsoon rains bypassed this spot this afternoon, so I could walk around and even go swimming in the pool. And this evening I can watch the flashes of lightning from my guest room. Incredible.

Arcosanti visit

This is the last photo in the series. The pool is located above the guest rooms. It is top-notch.

In the pool, I met a couple of the other people staying here tonight, one of whom was much more familiar with Arcosanti and says that Form is an especially amazing time to come here.

The workshops also sound phenomenal.

Now I know.

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Storm Sequence [Arizona, monsoons]

(post title is a periodic reminder about one of my all-time favorite pieces of installation art, which I hope more people will get to see in person some day)

When in Arizona, this is a blog that talks incessantly about the weather.

On Thursday, the Tucson branch of the National Weather Service twittered some commentary about a large impending monsoon storm:

(side note: They weren't able to get this thread to thread properly so if you actually want to read it you'll need to dig)

Things started to get interesting here last night at around 9 pm, with very strong winds. The torrential rain then got strong enough to cause water to build up in both the front and back yards of this place. I started having flashbacks to the times that the Villa Maria house flooded, but thankfully, this place was built juuuuust high enough that no water made it inside from the flooding. The water level reached around 2 inches in the back, and maybe an inch out front. Some water DID make it inside through the bathroom ceiling vent, which I think mostly just tells us how windy it was. It was interesting watching shingles flap up and down on a neighbor's shed.

The power even went out briefly, making me glad once again that I impulse-purchased this silly, cheap LED lantern in California:

Emergency lantern activated

After 30 minutes the power was back on again, so I went to sleep to wait and see what things looked like in the morning, when I'd been planning on a bike ride and coffee with friends. of right now, it's still raining, complete with lightning, and I suspect the storm activity is going to continue into tomorrow. So the bike ride definitely didn't happen, and I doubt I'll get to go rowing tomorrow morning, either.

Instead, Emma and I have been enjoying the storm from inside the house. I am SO GLAD I finished labwork yesterday!

July 23 monsoon rain

July 23 monsoon rain

July 23 monsoon rain

During a small lull:
July 23 monsoon rain

We're almost up to 3 inches already in the part of town where I'm staying. Interestingly, the Tucson NWS just posted a write-up about an epic July 2006 monsoon storm, that dumped up to 8-11 inches of water in various areas. I can only imagine what that must have been like, if this is what 3 inches looks like.

This has been quite the summer for climate-change-related weather events, generally. I have to assume you've seen photos of the flooding in parts of China. I was chatting with a colleague yesterday who noted that over the last 3 years, Arizona has seen some really terrible wildfires that have wiped out a lot of old-growth forest (keeping in mind that it takes around 100 years before a saguaro starts to reproduce). I'd heard about some of the fires, but still didn't have an appreciation of the full extent of the carnage in the Superstitions. I'm nervous about the smoke levels I may encounter while driving to California, but it can't be helped. This is our new normal. I almost feel like it's a good thing that some of the smoke from the fires has traveled all the way out to the East Coast so more people can really understand what these fires mean. Human beings are generally terrible about extrapolating beyond individual lived experience.

Not that I'm optimistic that this year's weather events will actually get people to change profligate lifestyles or anything.

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Heard Museum 2021 in four parts

I. I love to visit just for the building. It is a beautiful, peaceful space, with multiple courtyards and shaded walkways full of beautiful sculptures and plants.

Scenes at the Heard Museum

Scenes at the Heard Museum

Scenes at the Heard Museum

II. One of the current exhibits is called "Small Wonders" and features a ton of tiny, exquisite works of art, and homage to many jewelry-making traditions that economically sustain many Native communities. The insects, of course, especially caught my eye, including this cicada and tarantula killer by Liz Wallace:

Cicada and other pieces by Liz Wallace

Tarantula killer by Liz Wallace

Apparently these wings aren't simple inlayed stone - they are more like miniature stained-glass pieces that light can shine through. Gorgeous and incredible.

I regret that I did not take a picture of the ring that this description is for:
Under False Pretense - description

The ring contains so much symbolism in such a small format and is very compelling.

III. Photos cannot do justice to the incredible Dine rugs that are currently on display. I generally don't take a ton of pictures of art, but this sign made me laugh and change my mind this time:

Please do not touch

It's hard to read, but it says, "PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH - The artwork is practicing social distancing"

The detail, the symbolism, the precision, the care in these rugs is just amazing.

Pieces from All At Once: The Gift of Navajo Weaving

Pieces from All At Once: The Gift of Navajo Weaving

I would have to take a thousand pictures to do these justice, and even then it wouldn't be the same because these rugs have such tangible presence. What a treasure.

IV. I also appreciated this collection of Native-made face masks:

Masks, Heard Museum

Not all of these are practical/functional, but this exhibit speaks to contemporary, living art traditions that interact with and respond to events in the world. Native communities have been hit very hard by the global pandemic but have also reacted in distinct and unique ways.


It was only after I went home that I realized I missed seeing an entire exhibit of contemporary Native art. Argh! Still, I am so glad for what I did see.

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Grid Life [Arizona]

This is my first time existing in the Greater Phoenix Suburb-o-Politan area where I have ready access to a motor vehicle.

The experience of this city from behind the wheel of a (not-so-large) automobile is so vastly different from the experience of this city on a bicycle, the bus, the light rail, and on foot.

It is two- and three-lane grid roads and traffic lights; a vague sense of terror while constantly jockeying for position among other vehicles; enormous, fast-moving freeways to nowhere.

Yes, it means everything in the far reaches is accessible, but by that very same token everything in the far reaches greatly loses its lustre.

I am sure the vast majority of the inhabitants living here are utterly unaware of this aspect of the poverty of their circumstances.

I biked to the Heard Museum yesterday, as much for the bike ride as for the museum (the museum is exquisitely wonderful). Oak Street is a well-worn groove in my mental map of the area, since it was the backup route while the light rail line got put in on Washington and the initial route we knew best for transiting between my house in Tempe and [personal profile] scrottie's house in Phoenix, before we discovered that the Grand Canal was superior and faster.

When I ride my bike to destinations in downtown Phoenix, arrival is an oasis.

The rate of construction of new townhomes and apartments out here continues to be incredible. I imagine the spaces being filled with the same sort of furniture and things as the place where we're temporarily staying. The place where we're staying is filled with the things that would be expected for conventional guest accommodations. Serviceable but impersonal. Do these spaces simply act as shells or cocoons for the inhabitants as they watch TV? Does short-term hedonism start to feel hollow after a point after the best restaurants and amusements have all been tried and the adrenaline rushes wear off? What happens after that? Children and families, hard drugs, or just numbness? Lives I struggle to imagine.

It is hard to keep images of the coal-fired power plants on the Navajo Reservation proximate in one's mind. You can pretend it's solar power if you'd like, but those plants are still very much active. It is hard to look at fountains and sprinklers watering sidewalks and remember that a thousand small things like these are siphoning down the Colorado River to nothing.

I suspect the agricultural fields will dry up first, although I could be wrong. When we crossed back over into Arizona from California, gasoline prices dropped by a full dollar, so in the short term it seems to me the throngs will continue to flock here and fill the streets and houses, not knowing how life could be different. Different certainly doesn't mean better - perhaps it doesn't actually get better than this. But I'm glad to remember the ways that I found to live out here, to know the possibilities.

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Newspaper links: 3 Opinions and an Article

NYTimes articles. I learned recently from someone that is your friend if you prefer not to purchase digital newspaper subscriptions. I'm still giving the NYT money for now.

It seems odd that we would just let the world burn. (except, humans are VERY shortsighted)

'Managed retreats' as an alternative to climate refugees. Except, see #1.

Summer travel is back. Earth can't handle it. People have had a range of interesting reactions when I've told them that I drove out to Arizona this summer. But I really don't like flying in the first place, and I believe it still holds true that the emissions from one airplane flight outweigh the emissions if every person on that flight were to get in a car and drive the distance instead. In the grand scheme of things, though, I would really love it if long-distance train travel with a cat was possible.

Article: Los Angeles goes to war with itself over homelessness. Yesterday at the Heard Museum I watched a short film about the Havasupai tribe, who live in Havasu Canyon, a tributary of the Colorado / Grand Canyon. As with much reservation land in Arizona, Havasu Canyon is very geographically isolated, which one of the tribe members said is why they have been able to hold onto their homelands. I admire Indigenous cultures and communities that have that kind of relationship with the land. It's something I will never be able to claim, coming from immigrant families who moved for opportunity, as the narrative goes. I am still turning over the language "unsheltered relatives" after reading/seeing this photoessay. The "othering" that happens in places like Venice Beach and so many other places in California is hard to read about, but so are many of the firsthand stories from friends attempting to provide transitional housing in West Coast cities.

I'm not sure where to go with these thoughts, but I suppose this is what the failures of Western democracy and free-market capitalism look like.

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Rock music

Yesterday afternoon I took the two remaining students to the Musical Instrument Museum. I'd heard good things about the museum, but had never managed a visit before.

The first floor was all right, although after a period of time I decided the room of mechanical musical instruments was diabolical. I think I just object to the fact that mechanical instruments can't be modulated in the way that human-played instruments are. They generally compensate for that problem by being too loud.

The room full of instruments that museum-goers can play was all right, although I think I would have enjoyed it more if there weren't any other people in there and I could mess around on my own for a while.

When we got to the second floor, though - that's when I really came to appreciate the place. The biggest reason was that the first room I walked into, for North America, started out with something like five or six different sections showcasing Native American music from different regions of the Americas. It was helpful to be able to listen to snippets of songs and see snippets of dances from different regions in order to start to be able to hear and identify distinctions in style. I was also pleased to see those sections placed front and center.

The whole second floor is laid out according to geographic regions, and showcases musical instruments in a global context. While there are things like a section all about piano construction, there are also sections highlighting types of music found on islands in the Pacific and so on (woah, humanity has invented so many kinds of drums!). The main feeling one is left with is, "Wow, making music is a fundamental part of being a human being, and there are incredibly diverse ways of doing so."

Shortly before leaving, I strolled past the section on Korean music, which featured a couple of instruments used for ceremonial purposes. This one in particular struck me:

At the Musical Instrument Museum

I've always been a sucker for percussion. What you see here are pieces of jade stone that have been cut and shaped to hold different notes. I should add that as you walk around this museum, there are screens set up that play snippets of music to accompany the items on display, piped in to headphones.

I also watched a video clip of a group of Vanuatu women playing water music that was incredible.

Overall, the museum was on the large end of what I can tolerate, but worth a visit if you find yourself in the area.

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My last night here is Friday, July 23, but from the sounds of things the Brompton I'm looking to acquire won't be ready until Saturday, July 24. I'm reminded of what it was like the last time I left Arizona, in 2018, moving to New York. Unsurprisingly, packing took longer than expected, so for our first day of driving we just drove the moving truck up to Payson for the night - enough of an elevation change to get out of the low desert heat, at least.

When I was down in Tucson visiting with my aunt, she happened to mention visiting Arcosanti, another Arizona destination I've never visited before. Apparently it's possible to stay there overnight. It seems like an appropriate destination as I start to head out towards California. I really don't relish the thought of setting sail towards Los Angeles and then winding up somewhere random along I-10 that evening. I feel slightly better about the idea of taking I-40 instead, and about staying somewhere interesting for the night.

We shall see how this all goes.

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Not pictured [Arizona]

I dropped the students off at a butterfly place yesterday afternoon. When I went to pick them up, we headed over to a Oaxacan Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, where the internet told me they served tlayuda. So I tried one, and it was pretty good. Admittedly not my favorite Mexican food, but I appreciated the variety.

Then we took a somewhat random route back towards the homestead, except with a diversion over to Papago to check out the Hole in the Rock. In spite of how long I lived here and how close I've always lived to Papago, I'd never gone over to the Hole in the Rock before.

There were a lot of people hanging out in the Hole itself, so instead of trying to watch the sunset from there we walked a short ways over to a small saddle between the Hole and the hill at the south side of the Desert Botanical Gardens.

I didn't take any photos, but we picked a great night for watching the sunset, as well as the clouds from the surrounding thunderstorms. It wasn't even all that hot out.

The first student departed yesterday, with her mother. The second one flies back to New York this evening. The third one leaves tomorrow morning. I may breathe a small sigh of relief about not having to be in charge of other people for at least a little while here.

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Automotive adventures, Part 512

At least this project was one where I felt at least somewhat capable and up to the task at hand!

Apparently these plastic tabs wear out over time, and the plastic things they're holding then pop free:

Holding up the undercarriage (so to speak)

I found a very small scrap of wire in the lab the other day - just barely enough for the job.

Holding up the undercarriage (so to speak)

Holding up the undercarriage (so to speak)

Not five minutes after I finished, the skies opened up and the rain came pouring down. Gotta love monsoon season!

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False starts

I got up early to go rowing this morning. My plan was to drive to the boatyard, stopping to get gas on my way there, driving instead of biking so I could get a little more sleep and deal with gas early instead of sometime later in the day. The last time I drove, one of the students noticed that a piece of plastic that is supposed to protect the undercarriage was sagging:

Underbelly troubles

Driving to the gas station, I could hear the plastic starting to drag and scrape. While filling up, I also thought I saw lightning, so that was all it took to convince me to turn around and head back to the house instead of continuing to the boatyard.

I am thinking to attempt a repair with some tie wire. I'm also curious to know whether something like this might have resulted from a mechanic forgetting to reattach some screws or clips. I could also easily see it as being the result of general wear-and-tear, although I am pretty certain that I haven't scraped the undercarriage on this car.

Remind me again, why do people own cars?

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