Camping, Studio Renovations, and OUTSIDER Newspaper – a potpourri of nonsense and ramblings…
Mike helped me to install an insulated ceiling in the studio on Tuesday. Working in a 98° shed was preferable to sitting in a corowded courtroom waiting to be selected for jury duty. Fortunately jury duty was cancelled for the week – I am still on the roster waiting to be called up but I dodged the bullet this time around. Now mind you, I have nothing against serving on jury duty – however it is much better if one is employed and collects a paycheck for doing so. Being what they say is self-employed (sporadic pay and no holidays or benefits) has a downside.
The ceiling has made a world of difference – it is now 98° outside, but the studio is a cool 94° after being closed up all day. Before the ceiling was installed, it would have been in excess of 100°. I measured the temperature of the ceiling with my nifty infrared heat gun as we were installing the panels. The bare wood clocked at 114°, the panels at 97° – that is a world of difference.
I still have some finishing touches, and then have to rearrange and organize. We need to acquire an inexpensive storage shed, too. I have been pricing raw materials, and it looks like the most economical way to go will be to purchase a pre-built shed.
Liz, since the day we met, has been adamant that she would never go camping. She has tempered that since, at first saying she would be open to staying in an Airstream trailer. That is not camping, it is living in a portable motel. Then she opened up tot he concept of getting a teardrop trailer, with the admission that as long as she was off of the ground and on a mattress it would be acceptable. I have no idea what evil spirit possessed her, but this past week she initiated a camping trip in a tent, on the ground, with no mattress.
Mike, Tami, Liz and I trekked to Mike and Tami’s regular spot in the mountains and set up camp. Liz is hooked and actually suggested we buy a tent of our own (my 20-year old tent self-destructed on my last camping trip.
We took Thor and Jade on our foray. The dogs had a blast, and yes, a four-person tent will hold four adults and two dogs! This seems to be the time to camp in the Valley, as the snowbirds have vacated for cooler climes, and only diehards were to be seen. The temperatures dived into the 70′s, by my reckoning, and sleeping was pleasant.
I packed a UV flashlight for the trip. Why, you may ask? Scorpions.
There are more than 1000 varieties of scorpion. All scorpions are venomous. Only 25 of all species have venom that can kill a human being. The most venomous of all is the Bark Scorpion, found in the Arizona desert. These little buggers are difficult to see during the day, and impossible to see at night. They are small. They glow bright green under UV light. I found one bark scorpion near our tent, and another about 25 feet away.
Only two people have died due to Scorpion bites in Arizona since 1968; most vulnerable are small pets, children, and those with compromised immune systems. However, I prefer not to be one of the statistics no matter what the ultimate outcome.
One of my favorite things about Arizona is the open-carry law. You can carry a loaded handgun (as long as you are not a felon, illegal, or otherwise unqualified to possess a gun) and there are areas in the desert were you can set up targets and plink. Beside a few handguns, I packed the Charter Arms AR-7. I gave everyone lessons on safe gun handling, and we all took turns cracking off a few rounds.
The AR designation, despite media representation as an “automatic rifle”, is a great piece for this region. AR is short for ArmaLite, the original manufacturer of the AR-15 and AR-7. The AR-15 was originally designed as a military assault rifle, but the design was sold to Colt who then built the M-16 for the military. that rifle is a true assault rifle, full automatic. Colt then offered the AR-15, based on the appearance of the M-16, but as a semi-automatic firearm. Semi-auto means that you fire off one round with each pull of the trigger, like any other gun. It is not, nor has it even been an “assault rifle’ as defined by Jane’s, the ultimate authority on firearms.
The AR-7 is based on the original AR-5, built as a survival weapon for Air Force pilots.This cool gun was features in “From Russia with Love” – one of the early James Bond movies. However, this rifle is better suited to taking small game than assassination attempts.
ArmaLite sold the patent to Charter Arms in the 1970′s. The AR-7 is a portable .22 caliber rifle with dubious reliability. We experienced a half-dozen feed jams before I packed it up. I will have to spend some time with emery cloth on the feed ramp, and might have to chase down a new magazine before I take this out again. I suspect the magazine on mine is after-market. What is really cool about this rifle is that the action, the barrel and the magazine are all easily detachable and are stowed in the stock.
Attempting a start-up is a frustrating ordeal. I have been working on a business plan, and recruiting talent to contribute to the paper once we take off. The talent is easy – I know from experience that great talent is all over. Our mission will be to find and promote that talent.
An ad on Craigslist did not disappoint, and I have been in discussion with at least a dozen talented individuals that are anxious to be part of this project. I am confident that when I acquire the backing I need, that we have a winning publication. As far as the business plan, I have most of the incidentals in place. I know what sort of ad revenue to expect, and compensation to the contributors is straightforward. Printing costs are easily estimated. The hang-up, as always, is in the distribution. It is not easy to deliver 20,000 copies of a paper in a timely manner.
I am fortunate that I have assistance from a local newspaper publisher that is on board. Once I get this final piece of the puzzle, I can print the business plan and begin recruiting financial backing. Once published, the paper will sell itself. Then the really hard work begins…
Glass, and mortar.
It never made it above 94° today in Apache Junction. There has been some cloud cover, which probably accounts for that. I used the cool weather as an opportunity to do some roof work. We have a minor leak in the house during heavy, torrential downpours. I wanted to find the cause and fix it before Monsoon season.
In the desert, most houses have air conditioner units mounted on the roof. This prevents rattle snakes from seeking them for nesting areas, and also prevents scorpions from seeking them for the moisture. The main intake vent is rather large, and upon inspection I discovered the roof cement around the seams was dried and was lifting. I scraped off the old, and applied new roof cement around the seams. By June and July, the cement should be cured.
After that, I climbed onto the studio roof, and applied a five gallon bucket of silver Aluminum Coat. The reflective coating will reduce the heat inside to a certain extent. I still have to install the ceiling insulation, but that will be a two-person job.
While it was still daylight, I decided to add to the glass bottle wall I am constructing next to the studio, under the Palo Verde tree. I have enough mortar left to add another course of bottles, possibly tomorrow or Sunday.
It is 7:43 PM and as you can see by the weather app on my laptop, it is cooling down. It tipped the thermometer at 102° this afternoon. Tomorrow will be a little cooler, and it will be downright arctic by the weekend.
Today I slashed prices on my painted sawblades - $9.99 a piece. There are dozens to chose from, and at that price you cannot afford not to buy one!
We bought Thor a kiddie pool today. It is not as big as the pool we used to have in New Jersey, but it is a hell of a lot easier to maintain! When he gets hot, he will wander over and stand in the water to cool off. Read the rest of this entry »
I have not been writing a lot of late. The business plan for the newspaper project has me stumped; I need numbers to complete it and cannot get hold of the people I need that can help. At this pint I might just go it on my own, and advertize for local writers and artists via Craigslist, and do a bi-monthly in the fashion of Inferno, 5,000 copies per issue and keep it real local. I’ll figure it out.
On Monday, for our hike, we chose trails closer to the Superstitions, yet still in Apache Junction proper. I am now taking the Saguaro for granted, and though I have taken plenty of photographs, none of the pics have expressed the sense of scale of these monsters. I had Liz take a pic of me in front of this old man. Every one foot section of cactus weighs in excess of 100 lbs. Each arm can weigh several tons. The roots go less than 18 inches deep. Just sayin’. Read the rest of this entry »
I Like Ink
I published and edited a newspaper for seven years. Inferno, no boundaries was an underground arts publication that beat all odds and became a mainstay of the arts community not only in and around the Glasstown Arts District, but also in Philadelphia and the NYC SoHo scene. It was started with no capital, but a lot of enthusiasm. Most important, I caught the bug. Read the rest of this entry »
I stumbled on this quail egg in the desert during one of our hikes. I understand they are a delicacy, but I think ti would take quite a few to make an appetizer, let alone a meal. Usually we find egg shell fragments, it is rare to find an entire egg that has not been made a meal by a predator or scavenger.
We didn’t hike this week, and I am feeling withdrawal. Hopefully Monday morning we will get out. Pretty soon it will be too hot. We turned on the AC last night for the first time this year. We have it set at 82°. The Sonoran Desert doesn’t cool off at night as you would expect – the Valley retains the heat throughout the day. Even the ceiling fan in the bedroom doesn’t cool one off at night, it just recirculates the 90° air. The humidity is so low that 82° is comfortable. Read the rest of this entry »
Spring is here, and the Saguaro throughout the valley are just beginning to blossom. This blossom is the Arizona State flower. In a week or so, the entire valley will be awash in white tipped Saguaro.
I had to climb on the roof of the Studio to get this shot. The Saguaro by the Studio is about 25-feet tall. The tips of the arms are around 15-feet up.
In a couple of months, after the blossoms have long gone, red fruit will ripen. The fruit is edible, but has to be harvested with long poles. The local O’odham tribes made a fermented drink from the fruit to celebrate the rains. I am pretty certain that the Johnson/Nicklus tribe will make our own fermented drink from the fruit!
Liz and I have a special day planned. If we have $20 to spend at Jake’s on an evening every few weeks, that is a lot. We haven’t been eating out simply because money is a bit tight. Liz has been working evenings on weekends, but she has tonight off. We are going to visit the Mesa Art Center – entry is free. Then we are going to do the Scottsdale Art Walk – they have an art walk every Thursday. And we are going to treat ourselves out to a fancy dinner – which for us consists of draft craft beers and pub sandwiches.
The Apache Trail is forty miles of road that will take you several hours to navigate – and that is if you are in a hurry! Mike, Tami, Liz and I took the road trip on Monday. Mike and Tami are old pros, it was Liz and my first time.
We had been down some of the Trail – hell, we live a block off of the Trail. The Trail, for most of it’s path, is also State Highway 88. We take the Trail to Tortilla Flat, which is an actual town with a post office and an actual zip code – population 6. Tortilla Flat boasts, beside the post office, a restaurant, museum, and gift shop. Back in the day it was a stage coach stop.
The Apache Trail was initially utilized by the – you guessed it – Apache tribe to navigate the Superstition Mountains and wilderness. It later became a stage coach route, as well as a Pony Express route. After you pass Tortilla Flat the macadam road turns to graded dirt. Many of the passages are wide enough for one vehicle, with numerous single-lane bridges that pass over dry gulches and ravines. There are very few guard rails, even though the drop down the side is sheer; the few guardrails that are there seem to only serve to alert you to the edge, and are not a preventive measure to keeps you from drifting over the precipice. Read the rest of this entry »
East Valley Spring
Oil on Canvasboard, 18″x24″
I am working larger and larger with my studies of desert scenes – expanding my horizons, to make a pun. Hah, I kill myself!
I haven’t done any serious desert landscapes yet – every one of my studies has been an experimentation wit color and style. I suppose every one has been in my style, since that is how I paint, a twisted marriage of impressionism and expressionism. Read the rest of this entry »