Friday, August 28, 2009

Some favorite photos

I'm good at finding photos I love (and I mean LOVE!) on the net and losing them again. Today, I came across a few I've been searching high and low for as well as some new ones.

This photograph just draws me in. I could stare at it for hours. I want to be on that ridge with the wind whistling around me, feeling the sand nick my skin, as the sun sets. It has a lonely, almost apocalyptic feel, yet peaceful and only slightly melancholy. I just love the quality of light. Shot by Jason J. Corneveaux.

This another one done by Jason. Again, it's more surreal, but I find it playful.

This is a new favorite. I actually gasped when I saw it. It won Panoramio's First Prize in Scenery and no wonder. I'd give up toes to be able to take pictures like this, maybe for just one picture like this. Taken by FWWS in the Ukraine, you can see more of his work on his Panoramio page. Trust me, this is not an isolated instance of great talent.

And now I have to go find a photograph I lost while tracking down all the links for this post.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Maia Waye art

I came across this artist on etsy and am in love with her gourds. They are unfortunately out of my price range, but her prints are not and they are impressive as well. Pyrographed gourds are decorated with burn marks and then colored. This process is time consuming and exact, requiring great skill. These are two of my favorites, Momma's of Africa above and Tutankhamun with Scarab. I would love to have these to drool over in my home.

Her prints are stunning as well. Rich and vibrant with an inner harmony. Below are Triangle Sun and Water and Planet Shared

For more of Maia's art visit her etsy shop

Monday, June 22, 2009

This is why my blog is called the soapbox.

I live in an unincorporated area of Pinal County just south of Phoenix. The post office recently decided to change our zip code as it is one of the fasted growing areas in the state, if not the country. Or at least it was until the housing market fell apart, but the point is that there are a TON of people down here in a zip code that is just very full. There are people that are very upset with this, but that is not my issue at the moment. My issue is that for years, a segment of the people down here have wanted to incorporate into a town. I haven't made up my mind about this, I see advantages (a library closer than 45 minutes) and disadvantages (the taxes to fund the library). So just last week I start getting emails about a changing the name of the area at the same time as they change the zip code. The first email I recieve is about how a county supervisor is changing the name without input from the community, that this is being railroaded through without our say or knowledge. This concerns me, as it should. Next I get an email about how the supervisor and post office have decided to extend the deadline for this name change to allow for community involvement. Great! So far I'm right where they want me. Not thinking about WHY we need the name change, or who is asking for the name change, but just glad I get to be a part of it. But as the days go by and a I get a couple more emails about the process of choosing the name, I begin to lose my sheep status. I start thinking, what is the point of this name change? Is it the post office asking for a name to go along with the new zip code? Was it just an opportune time to create an identity apart from Queen Creek? Is it the first step towards incorporation? I start researching. I look at all the emails I've recieved. I look at the website of the Greater San Tan Area Coalition, the group that is co-ordinating this name change. I email them myself when I cannot find a reason specifically stated in all of this.

On the Greater San Tan Area Coalition"s website, I read several times that their goal is not to incorporate, but only a way of banding together to voice our wants and needs to the entities that control the area, Pinal County, Queen Creek, etc. The emails state this as well, including the reply to my own, which says "The name change is to give an identity to the unincorporated northeastern section of Pinal County - nothing more nothing less. This is not about incorporation or annexation or anything of the such. Simply an identity... ". Sounds good so far. However, I don't think that is the truth.

The news is stating that this is a step towards incorporation. I look at the items the GSTAC are concerned about. Protecting open space, attracting business, creating a plan for shopping and residential areas, traffic control, amenities (I assume this means a library, maybe a recycling program, a fire department, etc). These are all goals that require incorporation. An open space plan would require an environmental impact survey as well as an overall plan for our area. Where are the housing developments going, the shopping centers? That requires decisions on traffic control, new roads, etc. This kind of planning costs money, lots of money. Amenities cost money. How will they get that? A tax of course. But how? If we continue in to be an unincorporated part of Pinal County, how will the county tax us and not other areas. Can't use a sales tax. You might be able to create a special zone, a difficult proposition. Most likely we would have to incorporate. Only a city government is capable of providing the resources needed to accomplish the goals stated by the Greater San Tan Area Coalition.

Which brings me to the problem. The Greater San Tan Area Coalition is lying. They are trying to start the process of incorporation without our consent. They are telling us this is only a designation on an envelope, but it not. They want us to feel like a group because we will be more likely to behave like a group apart from Pinal County and Queen Creek. It is manipulation, plain and simple. My concern at this point is not whether a town of Bella Vista or whatever the name becomes is a good idea. It is how we are getting there and how can I trust those that are setting themselves up as the political entity to create this town when they lie right from the first step. As for the why, I never got a straight response, but I think it's obvious.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I love interesting shelves. I find them full of imagination and spunk. These shelves are fit the bill nicely. These eco-friendly shelves are from ref-use and made of plywood that was on it's way to the dump. They have a line of tables and chairs that are very cool as well.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


No more stealing mommy's stuff and spraying cleaner everywhere! Maybe :)

Houselhold Cleaning (Chores for Kids) - and More Great Family Fun Party Ideas

Friday, May 1, 2009

My wonderful daughter

I thought it was about time to update everyone on Calissa's doings. Her pretend play has taken a big jump in the last couple of weeks. She has discussions with her toys and stuffed animals, which is really cute. I love to see how she learns from her environment. As with most families, dinner is a time to catch up and discuss our day. Yesterday, the batteries in Calissa's music box needed replaced and at dinner she told her dad how her music had "broken". She is learning her numbers. As with most 2 year olds, she only gets the concept of one and more than one, but she is learning to recognize the numbers as symbols. She had taken her train tracks completely apart and I was putting them back together yesterday morning. Part of the track is a short spiral to a bridge. As I was putting this together, she pointed to it and said, "Look, it's a six." A couple of weeks ago her grandpa gave her a toy with the alphabet and numbers 1-10 on it. This has several modes, counting, learning the letters, associating words (horn goes with H), and spelling. I'm not real fond of the spelling because it's not something Calissa can do yet, so it gets very repetitive and you get the wrong choice noise. This is Calissa's favorite mode. Even when she gets really frustrated (she knows the wrong choice noise, and what it means), she won't let me turn it to another mode. I have a feeling she will be asking me to spell things for her soon. I have no idea how I'm going to keep up with her. We also had to put catches on her closet door and lock up all of her books at night. She started getting up after we turned off her light, getting a book, turning the light back on, and reading. So we started not just turning off the light at the wall switch, but on the lamp as well. It took her two nights to figure that out. This makes me very curious about the role genetics plays in this. I used to do the same thing, taking books to bed. I'm sure that much of this is typical toddler behaviour. The natural byproduct of a curious and active mind paired with a desire to put off sleep. We buy her lots of books, and read to her often, so I'm sure nurture is also a big part. I wonder how she can be so much like Ivan or I in some regards. Genetics has to be a part of this. She isn't emulating me. I read before bed, but she is already asleep. Or am I simply ascribing a normal behavoir to taking after a parent? For all I know, toddlers of non-reader parents do the same thing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I need this!

Clocky - The Alarm that Runs Away! Literally, hit the snooze and Clocky jumps off your nightstand in search of a hiding spot. My luck he would end up under the king size bed where I can't reach him, but I doubt I'd go back to sleep. My brother would HATE this, which makes it the perfect gift! I found it at A + R Store

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

African Gardens | Gallery | - Send a Cow - Free lesson plans and teaching resources about Africa

This site has a gallery and instructions for building many styles of keyhole gardens, as well as bag gardens.

African Gardens | Gallery | - Send a Cow - Free lesson plans and teaching resources about Africa

Keyhole Gardens and Herb Spiral

I just ran across these garden styles tonight and I'm so excited to try them!

Keyhole Gardens were started by the charity Send a Cow. They are a raised circular bed with a compost and water system in the center. An open wedge allows access to the compost and water reservoir as well as the inner area of garden. This style not only allows someone that can't, or in my case, doesn't want to bend over or kneel on the ground, but this is also an incredibly efficient method of gardening. It allows a whooping 64% of the garden area to be cultivated. A typical square bed uses only 24% once access around the perimeter is accounted for. Additionally, the top of the garden is sloped allowing a greater garden area than a flat garden. Want more? Of course you do! Having a center area for compost means it's all in one place. If space is at a premium in your yard, you wouldn't even need a separate compost pile. And for my use, it would be easy to add an umbrella for shade simply by sinking a PVC pipe into the ground near the center of the wedge.

Photo courtesy of amberdc on flickr, license applies

Gardening Tips & Ideas says, "The herb spiral is a permaculture gardening method that uses nature to its full potential. Gravity allows the water to seep through the levels meaning that the plants at the top get full drainage while the ones at the bottom may reside in a simple bog. It also gives your herbs shady spots with varying degrees. The herbs that need full-sun can be grown in those positions while more shade loving plants can be located on the opposite side." Again, this method of gardening allows for greater soil surface area since you are dealing with a slope. Veggies and ornamentals would be neat too. I think I may use it for succulents as well. You could get really fancy with this. Add a fountain to the top, or a bird bath, or just a landscape light. Endless possiblities!

Makes you go hmmm..

My sister sent this quote to me a while ago, and it keeps coming up in conversations.

Owners of capital will stimulate working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized, and State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism. — Karl Marx, 1867

It's really stuck in my brain. I wish I knew what I could do something about the situation it describes. Scary that Karl Marx, father of communism, laid out (simplistically) the financial and political situation we are in now. Scary this was in the making 150 years ago. Scary nothing was done. Scary that there seems to be no suggestions to rectify the financial situation without exacerbating the political situation. I like Obama for many reasons. My main concern with him is his socialist leanings. Throwing money at major bankrupt corporations and then requiring government ownership even in a small part is just to close to communism for me. It gets us much farther down that slippery slope than we should be. As for saying it's temporary, yeah right. So was the federal income tax after WWII. It was supposed to go away as soon as the financial situation at the time was resolved, which was our war debt.

As bad as it might make things for many people, I really think that we should let the market correct this. Let capitalism do it's job. Let those companies die and new healthy companies grow from the ashes. The majority of workers would find new jobs with the new companies. The time between would be awful for everyone, but in the long run I think that time would be shorter. A healthy company will be able to overcome the situation better than a sick company that must be propped up for years before any real improvement is seen. Just give the money we would use to bail out old decrepit companies to new, more vital companies.

This is too fearsome of a possibility for many people, so perhaps we can find a middle ground. Only give certain of those companies seeking bailouts a small loan, enough to pay the very basics for a short amount of time. If they can make changes in that time, maybe give them one more small loan. If not, bye-bye. You had your chance.

What kind of criteria should we have for choosing which corporations get this loan? The willingness of the VIP's or high paid employees give up bonuses and luxury benefits should be one. Maybe a bonus could be offered once the company was back in the black for those employees that that stayed with the company through the bad times. Would those same people consider a deduction in salary? What kind of changes at what cost would be necessary to make the corporation a viable business again? How vital is this company and are there other corporations in the same industry being evaluated? If so, how does it compare? Let's take the auto manufacturers for example. If GM agrees to restructure their employee compensations by eliminating bonuses in excess of say $10,000 (this would not penalize the average worker), bring the benefit package for the top earners to the same level as the rest of the employees packages, as well reduce the salaries of those individuals, as well as make necessary changes to their business model, then that is the company we should help out. If Chrysler makes only token concessions in reducing the exorbitant compensation packages of high earners and instead fires half the admin and manufacturing employees, then maybe they aren't the company to back. Government has to look at this as an investor would. What company is most likely to succeed the soonest. Unlike an investor, it should not become a part owner, it should not own stock, or in any way become a part of that company. Perhaps that company could be taxed at a higher rate to repay the loan once a certain milestone is passed (ie-a number of profitable quarters, a certain amount of time), or simply a re-payment of the loan. Will people be hurt if the company not bailed out fails? Of course. But how many will be hurt when we find ourselves in 20 or 30 years with major industries owned by the government? We know how that works out. Government cannot run a business, the methods are all wrong.

Another thing I find scary is the potential for abuse by so called "civil servants" of the congressional kind. How many Congressmen and Senators will buy up shares of a company that the government has a stake in, and then use the combined power of both shareholder and legislative body to make a gazillion dollars? Or blackball other advances and competitors? How will that affect the affordability and availability of fuel efficient vehicles? On corporate pollution? On other evironmental considerations? On any other progress?

The possiblility (I believe certainty) that abuses will occur out way any benifit we would see in the next few years. We would be selling our national soul to the devil.

Paper art

I've also become enamored with paper art. It can be incredibly detailed and complex. The patience and skill that you would need to complete something like this piece by artist Helen Musselwhite leaves me a bit in awe.

Some more great design

I've been neglecting design blogs I follow for a bit as I concentrated on gardening research. Today on design sponge, they had a sneak peak at the home of Jeremy Mcelewain, a designer with Colortheory. They have a custom chandelier that is just beautiful.

The rest of the house is nice too. The colors are soothing, but not boring. The design is simple and uncluttered but not barren and cold. A wonderful mix of rustic, formal, traditional, and modern. It gives me a feeling of a beach house. I can imagine myself lounging with a good book, maybe in a hammock.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stanford Cactus Garden

This is a beautiful video of a cactus garden at Stanford University in California. No stretches of gravel or decomposed granite here. This is a real GARDEN, with a lushness that many people don't think you can have in a cactus garden. I could hang out here for hours. Nice music too.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm green!

I wish my tank looked like this. Not just the composition (fantastic! dramatic, calming, with a real sense of depth and height), but the health of the plants.

or like this, so deceptively simple!

Instead, it looks like this.

And my plants look like this.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Very cool

I just love this chandelier! So romantic and soo facinating. Just imagine the light it casts!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I've been yearning for a garden for months now. I waste so much time online looking up plants, learning about low desert gardening, finding neat little ways to do things. I love DIY solutions. I really don't see the point in buying something I can make. I save money, learn a new skill, and it's so much more satisfying! I also hate to throw something away that could have another use. So today I came across some very neat things right up my alley. Anyone's alley really. They are simple ways to make your own pots for the garden. No special tools or skills required!

The first are newspaper pots. You can purchase a wooden form to make these...

or use items you already have, a glass, soda can, or soda bottle with the top cut off and black & white newspaper. If you want a bigger pot, just use a bigger vessel to wrap your paper around. Here is a video from eHow with directions. She creates a pot in 3 minutes! This is so easy you can do it in front of the TV. She suggests taking the newspaper off when you plant the pot since the newspaper may not decompose fast enough, most people leave it on tho. I think it depends on your gardening conditions, and how many layers of newspaper you have in your pot. If you do leave the newspaper on, make sure it is completely buried so that it doesn't wick moisture away from the seedling.

There are lots of different ways to make your pots, some are more complicated than others.

The other idea I came across is using 2 liter soda bottles as mini green houses. Again very easy, and all you need is the bottle, scissors or knife, soil and seeds.

You can find instructions for this at MrBrownThumb's garden blog. Here is an idea for turning the bottle on it's side.

Update on cat

I'm late on this, but just in case someone is actually reading this, I should let you know what happened. A few days after that post, our beautiful Ebe disappeared. She likes to go outside (supervised of course), but doesn't wander off. That day was beautiful and my daughter and I were on the back porch. Ebe came out with us. I saw her cross in front of the back door while I was inside for a minute. When I went back out, she was gone. I looked all over for her with no luck. Even if she escaped the back yard, she would probably have just laid in the sun on the driveway. Like I said, she isn't a wanderer. My hubby and I think she wandered off to die. We will miss her terribly. She was a great cat, full of personality, loving, and until this illness, never sick a day in her life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Cat

My hubby and I have a 14 yr old domestic cat named Ebe. She's a great cat. Full of personality and attitude and love and mischief. She's always been really healthy. Until just after Christmas. She's losing weight, sleeping more than normal, not eating as much, sitting and laying funny, and is very, very snuggly. We had a bunch of blood work done, but it only told us what wasn't wrong. She doesn't seem to be suffering from any infections or viruses, her kidneys and liver are fine, and her thyroid is normal. That leaves us with some sort of digestional disorder. To determine what kind, we need to get an ultrasound done at around $500, which we don't have. I've tried to get insurance for her, but she's too old for all the but the ones that take the most advantage. I don't know what we are going to do. My vet in Colorado would let us run a balance, but our new vet here in AZ won't. It's a shame, cuz in a few weeks we would have the money. I'm sure if we don't do something fast, we'll lose our sweet kitty. The whole thing is keeping me up at night.