A Hike & Mystical Masks

South Mountain Hiking
South Mountain Hiking

10/26/10 - One of the memberships we got as soon as we moved to the Valley was for the Desert Botanical Gardens. Aside from their beautiful permanent gardens, they have ever-changing exhibits, events & classes. This month they had an exhibit of biomythic masks. The artist, Gwynn Popovac, creates the three dimensional masks with a variety of man-made and found objects such as wire, plaster, beads, fabric and stones. Each mask blends the textures, shapes and hues of natural habitats such as deserts, wetlands and tide pools with human features. While Candy got some great photos of the intricate masks, I took some whimsical ones of myself with some of the masks.

In mid-October we explored the Palm Springs area. It is about a 4 hour drive from Phoenix, and there is nothing but desert between here & there. We went with the Olivia travel group & stayed at a luxurious resort in Indian Wells, just outside of the city of Palm Springs. In addition to spending some relaxing time at the spa, we visited a few interesting spots in the area. We rode up one of the mountains in an aerial tram, the world largest rotating tramcar. It is only a 10-minute ride to go up the Chino Canyon, but we went from an elevation of about 2600 feet to 8500 feet in those 10 minutes! The views were incredible, so the little bit of nerves in the tramcar were worth it. We passed a huge wind farm while driving around the area, with over 3000 wind mills! It produces enough energy to power all of Palm Springs & some of the surrounding area.

At the end of the month we went on a hike with a group from HRC in Phoenix. We thought we were going for a leisurely hike on an easy-to-moderate trail. It turned out to be a lot more strenuous & steep than we thought. In these shots you can get a sense of the terrain...and how far back we lagged from the rest of the group....

Our American Sign Language class is coming to an end. We learned so much! Our teacher is deaf, so it made it imperative to learn quickly so we could communicate with her. There were only 6 of us in the class & we had a lot of laughs as we stumbled through the lessons. We are looking to continue with additional classes after the holiday season.

On the volunteer front, I put on presentations for National Coming Out Day at three workplace locations for Bank of America in the Phoenix area. Their employee network organized the events & I spoke under the banner of HRC. The discussions were well-received & the feedback was that people learned a lot more than they expected to. I'll continue to work with Bank of America on a few other presentations, and am looking to establish relationships with other employers in the area. My other major project is moving along nicely with the Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. We've created a business equality index for small businesses that can't participate in the HRC Corporate Equality Index due to their size. We are about to pilot the survey & expect to launch by the end of the year. We plan to recognize those businesses that have policies & practices that are fair & welcoming to their gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender employees. I'll keep posting updates as we get results.

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