Another summer in Tucson is here. Over the past few weeks, the last of the snowbirds headed off to higher elevations or the far north. The first weekend in June was the first of our 100 degree days - 103 and 107; temperatures are coming perilously close to 110 degrees this week, but that’s okay. I’ve loaded up on groceries and library books so I can hide out from the heat. It’s hard to get very energetic with heat like this. I've been keeping the thermostat at 84 'til mid-afternoon, then dropping it to 82 and just 70 at night, hoping electric bills will not be as high as last year's summer in Tucson. I’m also hoping that I will become more acclimated to the heat.
Gambel's quail have been out and about - this past week I've seen two families with tiny little chicks - boy, can they ever run fast - you can't even see their legs move. A clutch is generally about 10 to 12 eggs; one family I saw had the full complement of chicks scurrying for cover while a family that lives around my home has only four chicks. I get such a kick out of seeing them around, head plumes bobbing. They are obviously having a good time now that it’s summer in Tucson.
They are considered monogamous, but females have been known to leave their offspring with the father to go have a second brood with another male. The quail live in large groups of 20 to 40 called coveys – they are said to enjoy community dust baths. Here in the park I haven’t seen any large groups though.
Bijou had to visit the vet last month – seems the shots and antibiotics she got in January sort of lost their punch, so we went through the same routine again. Sadly, the rest of her teeth (all but the canines) will need to come out within the next few months. The steroid shot makes her hungry all the time – either that or she thinks she is a rooster. She wakes me each morning at 5:30 with loud meows and won’t stop until I get up.
I don’t much like being woken up that early, but it’s good in a way as I need to get out of the house by 6-6:30 to get my half hour walk in without perishing from the heat. Five or six times a week I either walk or do laps in the pool for about 30 minutes – occasionally, I do both the same day!
Summer in Tucson has me missing my RV – it would be lovely to hit the road for a couple of months and head for cooler climes. However, I am thoroughly enjoying my new life as an artist.
The Color Theory course was very enjoyable. After drawing several bowls of fruit and/or vegetables for homework assignments, I did three drawings of my cow skull – a welcome change. I then started the Composition course which will end this week. It is so wonderful to be in classes, amongst other artists – so I signed up for a three-week course called “Explorations in Ink” which starts next week – after doing 75 days of ink sketches it seemed like I should forge ahead in that direction a bit more. I’ve been studying Van Gogh’s drawings – he was a master at mark-making and the photo below is of my attempt to channel his talents.
Another summer in Tucson, spending the days indoors, seemed to call for another challenge. This time I challenged myself to do a 6” x 8” oil painting every day for 90 days. I’m supposed to do it in an hour. Having done 16 so far, I’ve discovered I take about 1-1/2 to 2 hours and can’t do it every day, so I aim for 4-5 a week. They say if you paint three times a week, you’ll stay even; if you do it more often, you’ll progress. The difficulty, at least for me, is simplifying – I try to get too much detail in. These are not supposed to be finished paintings. I’ve done most with a palette knife, but am now trying to learn to use brushes again.
I also intend to do some pastels - have completed one so far, from a photo I took of The Tropic Irrigation Ditch, on the edge of Bryce Canyon National Park.
Franny & Zooey - J.D. Salinger. Did I miss this one, too, when I was in school? Just enjoyed reading it, but it didn't seem at all familiar to me.
Salvage the Bones - Jesmyn West. Twelve days in the life of a family caught in Hurricane Katrina. West's writing is beautiful, lyric, fierce and unsparing. Will hold you in thrall to the last page.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald - Therese Anne Fowler. A fascinating novel based on the meeting & marriage of Zelda Sayre and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The dawn of the jazz age; their playgrounds here and abroad; the glamorous "Lost Generation" - all told as Zelda might have told it.
Question Your Thinking; Change the World - Byron Katie. Our problems lie in our thoughts, not in what is happening in our world. Everything is exactly as it is meant to be. I believe this is true with relation to our own personal life and situation, but it's hard to accept about some things. I've read earlier works by Byron Katie and think she goes a bit too far in this one.
Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult. Picoult is always a good read. This novel is timely – the nineteen minutes of a school shooting and how it affected the various people involved.
Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese. A tremendous, sweeping family saga. Reading this novel was moving, engrossing - I didn't want it to end.
I’ve been reading a number of art books as well and will continue to do that during this summer in Tucson.