Friday, July 20, 2018

Hummers And Dessert

I'm thankful to be alive this morning.  So far I have not found any more deadly desert recluse spiders around the house.  Thank you Dave for confirming what Miss Patty Chance said she guessed it was.  I'm contemplating an even bigger weapon for protection.

Here's the thing ... I already DO have a pest control service who should be spraying around the house every month.  Maybe those critters are immune.  Just as a backup, I purchased a big jug of spray myself for the garage and windows.  And here I thought my biggest problem would be the pack rats!!  Ha!!!!!

As I tried to calm myself with coffee (not the best of solutions) some of the desert's nicer critters came to visit.  The hummers are crazy around here, fighting over territory constantly.  They buzz from tree to tree like kamikazes.  Although they look very plain and brown, when the sun hits them, they are gorgeous.
This little guy was pretty reticent at first ... then I saw why.  There was a yellow jacket hanging off the bottom of the feeder.  No shovel this time, just a good fly swatter.
Once gone, this little guy started to drink his fill.  They aren't afraid at all ... they will come eat when I'm standing less than two feet away.  I don't know how they do it in this heat.  Wouldn't you know, I got a heat warning today for the entire weekend.  I think I'm going to be housebound.
While shooting the hummers, I turned around to see this.  The sun was just coming up making the clouds tinged with pink.  I'm guessing that's the North Star on the far left ... except that's not North, so who knows.  Yes the sky really is that blue here without layers of smog covering it up.  There's nothing better than fresh air.
So ... here's the tiramisu recipe I promised.  It's super simple and really delicious.

1 cup whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon Brandy if you like ... I use a glug of Baileys

Whip that all together until it gets thick, which only takes a minute.

2 cups strong coffee
1 package ladyfingers ... see picture below
Cocoa powder for dusting.

Dip the ladyfingers quickly in the coffee.  Too slow and they become real soggy, which you do not want.  Put a single layer in the bottom of an 8 x 8 pan.  Spread half the mascarpone mixture over the top.  Place another layer of dipped cookies over that and finish with the last of the mascarpone.  Rap the pan on the table top to get out any air bubbles.  Dust with cocoa.  
I would make this several hours in advance and leave it in the fridge to soak up the flavors.  Excuse the wonderful tableware, but here's a nice big slice.  It's super quick and easy and tastes exactly like my original Italian recipe that takes hours to make.  If you like coffee, you'll like this dessert.
This is what REAL ladyfingers look like.  Don't get the fake ones at Safeway.  I actually drove 25 miles to find these at the Whole Foods Market in Tucson.  By the way, they make an excellent breakfast cookie dunked in coffee.  I bought four containers and keep them in the freezer.
This Whole Foods Market is not nearly as big as I'm used to, but they have something interesting going on.  They have teamed up with Amazon (who hasn't nowadays) in order to gather your shopping information surreptitiously.  Items in the store are marked with an "Amazon" sign.  When you purchase them, you get an extra "Amazon" discount by scanning your app at the store.  

I'm guessing it sends them your entire receipt of purchases.  Not sure I like that idea, but you do get discounts.
Today I'm going to attempt cooking a pork loin on my Weber Q barbecue.  This should be fun with it being the hottest day so far.  Actually it's only been in the high 90's, but with all the clouds and rain, the humidity is getting up there.  

AND ... I finally was able to get ahold of the guy to come give me an estimate on a front patio cover.  I'm also researching an RV cover.  What a project THAT'S going to be!!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I'M AT WAR!!!!!

There I was, sitting on the couch sewing the binding on my favorite Texas Star quilt when there was a movement at the window that caught my eye.  HOLY CRAP!!  I stabbed myself with the needle as I jumped up and ran for the kitchen, dripping blood all the way.

I grabbed my swiffer floor sweeper from the closet and snuck back to the window ready to SMACK him!!!  Wasn't I surprised when I discovered he was on the outside of the window.  Wait ... there's a screen on that window and he's between the glass and the screen.  That can't be!!

I carefully got close enough to take this picture, then headed outside to make double sure he wasn't INSIDE the house.  Sure enough, he was caught in between.  How could that possibly happen?  There wasn't a fraction of an inch around that screen where he could crawl behind it.

SAY GOODBYE HONEY!!  SMASH!!  The Great White Hunter strikes again!!!  He dropped like a rock as I jumped back six feet!!  Oh wait ... he's behind the screen.
Yup ... he's BIG ... BIGGER than the scorpion by far!!  WELL over three inches wide.  Just to be sure he was a goner, I pried the screen off with great difficulty and dropped him to the concrete.  I do believe he's dead.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief, then panicked when I realized I was barefoot on the walkway where things like bugs and scorpions crawl.  

I tried to do some research and find out what kind it was, but the only thing that looked even close was a brown recluse, which scared me even more.  Maybe it's because something like these were in that Arizona Highways Magazine my Mom used to scare me away from snakes.  It worked really well.
This morning I saw a cricket as big as godzilla crawling across the patio.  I am not ONE with the creepy crawlies .... I may have to stay elsewhere during July and August.  At any rate, I did find my roses blooming even more.  Apparently they really like the systemic food I gave them in March because they are growing like gangbusters.  They really need to be pruned, but I'm becoming afraid of what might lurk beneath them.
As I wandered around I discovered Daddy dove came to visit Mom.  She leaves the nest once a day for water down at my station below the yard.  I've been trying to catch her off the nest to get a picture of the eggs, but no luck so far.
After all the drama with the spiders and scorpions, I needed something to sooth my ragged nerves.  What better than tiramisu?  It's an Italian coffee flavored creamy desert without too much sweet to make me even MORE nervous.

The problem was finding ladyfingers to make it with.  In my neighborhood in California, they are fairly easy to find.  I found some at Safeway that I can truly say are NOT ladyfingers.  The hunt was on!  I did finally find some and will give you the recipe tomorrow, along with pictures.  It's super simple and mighty tasty.  Perfect for that RV rally potluck or the poker game you are going to or to sooth your frazzled nerves from fighting spiders and scorpions.  

I'm going to go outside now and sit on the patio with my first cup of morning coffee ... shovel and swiffer in hand.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Scorpions or Snakes??

If you're my Facebook friend, you've probably already seen this guy.  Only the second one I've found, the first being under a rock outside on the patio.  I smashed him so quickly I didn't get a picture.

Probably the two worst critters around here to cause me angst are scorpions and snakes.  No one ever mentioned them until AFTER I purchased the house.  Apparently the smaller they are, the worse they are.  I don't want to find out.

Here's what happened ... I needed a plant for the corner where I tore out an oleander that was huge and rubbing up against the house.  I went to Civano's nursery, probably the most expensive in the neighborhood, just to look around.
I told the nice lady what I wanted and she showed me my choices.  This is a Convent Texas Ranger.   It only grows to 5-6 feet all around, perfect to hide the crawl hole and blooms with beautiful pink flowers.  She even placed it in the back of my Jeep, a thought that makes me cringe with fear.

As I took it out of the Jeep, now parked in my garage, I reached for the back door, only to see that baby scurry across the floor.  Was he in the plant?  Was he under the door?  WHERE did he come from.  I literally dropped the plant on the floor as I grabbed my shovel.  The dude made a wrong turn and came right for me.  SMASH!!!!!!!  I crippled him!  He's about 3 inches long.

This time I had the sense to take a picture before smashing him another 35 times until there was absolutely nothing recognizable but a smush on the concrete.  I truly didn't want to touch the plant again, but finally put on gloves and got up the nerve to park it in the dirt.  Now I wonder if there are any more scorpions in my Jeep??
She also gave me some tree and shrub stuff to kill the weevils that are killing my cactus.  Once I find a suitable bucket for mixing, that will be my next project.  I purchased the roundup at Ace Hardware, to use in keeping the lawn from invading the flowerbeds.  
I made one more trip to town for groceries after searching the inside of my Jeep from top to bottom.  Back home, I got out and headed to the very same door and what do I see ... ANOTHER SCORPION!!!!  What the heck???  Luckily I keep the shovel right there, so more slamming and smashing ensued until there was nothing visible.  Did he escape from the plant pot?  Did he come in under the door?  

I grabbed my household kill-everything spray ... having no idea if it's going to have any effect at all on those horrible little critters ... and soaked the garage from top to bottom.  I advise you don't walk barefoot in my garage.  

Next morning I find all these guys on my patio.  I've no idea what they are, but at least they are DEAD!!  I found a broom in the garage to sweep them up, but by the time I got to the steps, some birds were picking them up right and left for a quick breakfast snack.  THAT was awesome .. natures broom got rid of every single one.
It's been in the high 90's with thunderstorms every afternoon or evening, making it rather humid.  Nothing like back East however.  In the afternoons I just stay inside in my nice air conditioned house.

I'm totally done with the scorpions and hoping I don't run across any snakes this year.  They are a little more intimidating to hit over the head with a shovel.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Thunder and Lightning ... OH MY!!

I have to say one thing for the desert ... it sure can put on a show!  One minute the skies are bright blue and the sun is shining.  The next minute, I get a storm warning.  Can't be, there's not a cloud in the sky.  Five minutes later, the heavens let loose.
That's when the thunder starts, so you KNOW there was lightning.  Ever since I updated my phone, I've been having trouble capturing this amazing power.  Many times it strikes in the clouds instead of hitting the ground.
So yesterday I sat outside in my camp chair just waiting and waiting.  I'd point right, it would strike left.  I'd point left, it would strike right.  FINALLY ... a good shot as the thunder roared and the rain came down in torrents.  The good thing is I don't need my sprinklers!  Yup ... that's another train in the foreground.
Flash flood warnings are everywhere, but luckily I sit on the side of a hill way above the riverbed below.  In spite of the rain, critters were out.  These baby gamble quail are so darn cute.  They come around every day for a drink from the saucer filled with rocks at the bottom left.  That way they don't fall in because quail don't swim very well.
In spite of all the thunder, lightning and rain, Mrs. Dove has been sitting tight on her nest.  
With all the clouds passing over, the sunsets have been amazing.  I haven't even had to move from the back patio.  It looks like this may come to an end for awhile however.  The forecast is for 90-95 degree days all this week, with just a few clouds.
That's too bad because I was looking forward to capturing more lightning.  I did have one tiny thought about being outside sitting in a chair holding up a metal instrument ..........
I'm in love with this Acacia tree.  It makes me feel like I'm in Africa.  I'm not all that hot on the bugs that come out at night and die by the hundreds on my patio.  Today I'll be buying a broom.
In the meantime, I found some reflectix for the rig insulation (had to buy 50 feet of it) and stopped by a local nursery for some gardening help.  

By the way ... did you notice I just completely ignored Friday the 13th??  I figured if I pretended it was Friday the 10th, that nothing would happen.  And it worked!!!!!!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sunsets And Sewing

Unlike Arizona, who usually has beautiful sunsets every night, California rarely has any, at least where I live.  About the only time you see gorgeous colors is when there is a fire somewhere, which was the case here.
It was so smoky from a fire WAY up North that we actually had some beautiful colors before I left.
Here in Arizona, they have storm clouds making for beautiful sunsets almost every night.  I'll post some tomorrow after I process them.  It's the monsoon season, something I've never experienced before.  

You never know which direction the storms are coming from.  Some times it's from the North, some times from the Southwest and yesterday, it just swirled all around in a big circle.

Also unlike California, when it rains here, it RAINS.  No wonder I see all those FLASH FLOOD warnings.  Good heavens .... water fell from the sky like gangbusters most of the day.  I just never had any idea it rained in the desert like it does here.  Boy are the cactus and trees happy!!

That meant I stayed in most of the day, getting absolutely nothing done in the yard.  It was a good time to work on that block challenge I picked up from the internet.  Here's blocks #3 and #4.
I've never sewn this precisely in my life.  It looks rather difficult, but is really easy if you follow the directions.  Jack the Ripper and I had a few tussles ripping out seams and resewing, but mostly it came out okay.
I did make one quick trip to the fabric store when I discovered I used a piece for this quilt in another one.  Okay, to be honest, it was the third trip I've made in five days.  This quilt called for 21 fabrics, three of which I had not yet purchased.  

I wasn't able to stop for a picture, but the rivers are running wild and crazy from all the water.  I've never seen anything like it.  Completely dry during February and March, they are full to the brim now.

In the meantime, just to keep myself out of trouble, I baked up some more peanut butter cookies, this time adding peanut butter chips to the mix.  Here's my secret ... I keep them in the freezer and pull out just one after dinner.  I choose not to think about how many that adds up to in one month.
This morning I'll be back to chopping and hacking in the yard before trying to clean out the sprinkler valves by myself.  I'm sure hoping that goes well!!  Then it's off to Lowes to purchase a cover for the valves to protect them from the sun and to provide shelter for lovely critters like snakes and scorpions.  

Note to self:  Find a BIG stick to keep by the sprinkler valves!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Desert Blooms

The rains they are a coming!!  Warnings of extended thunderstorms just came across my phone this morning.  Maybe I'll be able to get some good lightning images.  It has actually been raining a little ever day ... sometimes a LOT.  Guess I won't be needing those sprinklers for awhile.

Water means everything is blooming in the desert.  These have to be my all time favorite plant.  As usual, I don't know what it is.  I even downloaded an app on my phone where I could take a picture and it would identify it for me.  Trouble is, it never works.  It always says it can't find anything like the picture.
Isn't this a magnificent view?  Right in my back yard.  
I was out cleaning up ... actually cutting and hacking away at the bushes ... making way for the lawn mower.  I even used the electric weed whacker ... boy that was a scary proposition.  I had rocks and grass flying all over the patio!!  

I did have one little oops!!  When I went to cut back the bushes even more, I discovered a piece of drip tubing with an emitter attached.  Unfortunately the tubing was no longer attached to anything.  I've no idea where it came from, but I imagine I whacked something in half.
There are even rose bushes planted here ... all very beautiful and blooming.  I hear the deer love to munch on them, as evidenced by deer tracks (deer poop) in the grass.  They are rather a pain when it comes to pruning, but I promised the previous owner I would try to keep them alive.
Even the trees outside the yard are blooming and the hummingbirds are going crazy.  All of this makes for lots of sneezing of course.
Just before I left last time, I had a yard service come out and prune this palm tree.  Not three months later and it needed a haircut again.  Unfortunately, the chainsaw on a stick is too short to reach.  Me on a ladder with a chainsaw is probably not a good idea, so I hotfooted it down to Lowes and got a hand saw on a stick.  This one extends to something like 18 feet long.  

I've never worked so hard in my life, and I'm pretty sure I sweated every single ounce of water out of my system.  Even at 6:00 in the morning it was hot.  I sawed and sawed, trying to get the blade wedged in between the fronds at the base.  

That's when it all came to a screeching halt.  The blade got stuck and it wasn't coming loose.  RATS!!  I pulled on it and the handle extended, meaning it wasn't tight enough.  Now I'll NEVER get it loose. I was never meant for this kind of manual labor.  With a ladder and shovel, I was finally able to extract it and continue the job.
When I headed over to the second little palm tree and began my investigation into how I could trim it, I found a sweet little dove sitting on a nest.  There will be no trimming of this palm tree.  Poor baby, even in all the rain, she never leaves.
WAIT ..... it just popped into my head.  That beautiful orange flower is a Mexican Bird of Paradise!! See??  Sometimes I really CAN remember things.

Now it's time to figure out why a light bulb fell from the ceiling in my bedroom this morning.  Sometimes the weirdest things happen to me.  By the way, I did not mention that I could not get the garbage disposal to work, so I was planning on a complete kitchen remodel.  Sink, disposal, dish washer .. might as well add in a stove and fridge.

When I added up the cost, I grabbed a long knife, stuck it in the hole and gave the disposal several hard raps.  Magically, when I hit the switch, it came on.  The kitchen remodel has been postponed.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Do It Yourself!!

I've always been a do-it-yourself kind of girl.  I remember way back in grammar school when they taught us to work together on a social studies project.  I got a D because we were graded on our whole project, not individually.  My partner didn't do ANY of her work.  I decided right then and there that I would always do it myself.

Sometimes that gets me into trouble, but at least I generally know when to call UNCLE and get someone who knows what they are doing.  Such was the case with the sprinklers.  This one was broken, so I brought another from California.  It can't be too hard, just unscrew the old one, screw in the new one.

Not so fast Miss Nancy ... seems the new one is WAY too big.  With the valves stuck open and watering the entire two acres, I called out the calvary.  Able from Arcadia Landscape came by yesterday morning.
Wasn't I shocked when he said it would cost $600 to replace these four sprinkler valves.  Good grief Able ... don't scare me like that!!  He said he would clean the bad one first and see if that worked.  I asked if I could watch and maybe do the rest myself.  

The nice man said certainly ... he would be happy to teach me all about them.  We unscrewed the top and discovered lots of gritty white junk from the hard water here.  All cleaned out, he unscrewed the anti-siphon side and gave it the once over.  Once back together, we turned on the water and it worked just fine.  He also showed me how to adjust each valve for water flow so it would quit blowing the emitters off the end of the lines.
Now to repair the broken sprinkler ... come to find out it was the correct size, but whoever installed it attached the water line permanently to the side instead of the bottom.  That meant cutting the pipe and making the same type of repair.  Probably $50 for that one!!  No matter, the new one is working great!

The next cool morning, I'll grab my screwdriver and clean out all the other valves.  Able said they would send me a bill for his time ... that's a scary prospect since he had no idea how much it would be.  Any questions about your valves, just give me a call.  I've got Able on speed dial. 

Here's something new I learned about yard work.  Seems there's always something to learn.  While waiting for Able, I started pulling weeds from the flowerbed, overgrown from WAY too much water.  I actually did wear a pair of gloves, not that they helped much.  I kept running into that nice little cactus plant.

Two hours later, I discovered I am covered from head to toe with little tiny minuscule cactus spines in my hands, arms, legs and feet, and a couple other places I won't mention.  I figure I'll have to live with it because I can't see them at all.  Note to self:  be more careful when pulling weeds around the cactus.
Deciding to treat myself for lunch, I made a quick trip to Dairy Queen just down the road.  A dangerous place when you don't have much self control.  However, they have a great meal deal.  I got seven chicken strips with a load of fries, two pieces of garlic toast and all the dipping sauce I would ever need, all for $9.50.  Not bad since it made three meals for me.  MUCH better than Taco Bell.
I've procrastinated long enough ... today is Mow-The-Lawn day before it rains again.  

Friday, July 13, 2018

Rumbling In The Night and A New Game

Remember those train tracks just a quarter mile from my back door?  They've apparently been good to me up until now.  It seems they have been doing some weird shuffling as of late.  This image is for my Canadian friends.  I've never seen Ferromex before ... anyone know where they are from?

The train went by the house SO slowly and finally stopped with this rear engine in view.  Fifteen minutes later, it backed up completely out of sight.  Another twenty minutes passed and it started up the hill again, this time to disappear over the ridge.  No problem it's day time, right?

Well last night it did it again, only I think BOTH diesel engines were parked just outside my patio door.  The rumblings went on and on, followed by rain.
That wasn't all that was rumbling either.  Thunder and lightning continued all through the night.  Its not easy to get night lightning images ... our little phones just weren't made for nighttime photography.
Most were huge blinding flashes that lit up the entire sky.
Needless to say I didn't get any sleep.  Miss Jessie, who is just as afraid of thunder as she is firecrackers, kept trying to find a quiet spot on the bed, which wasn't happening.  Sleep wasn't happening either.  It's all good though, because I LOVE being in the desert!
I'm so excited to show you my latest game ... how many differences can you find in the next two pictures?

If you said TWO, you were right.  Aren't they just fabulous?  Funny the things that excite me nowadays.  Door and drawer handles.  I can't tell you how nice it is to open the doors now.  No struggling with finger tips getting caught.  

On a quick trip to Lowes yesterday, I found these knobs and pulls, grabbed my little cordless drill and went to work.  What a mess to clean up afterward.  Once done, I kept going back into the kitchen and opening cupboards, just because I could.  I can't believe I did this myself.
I'll be going back again soon because I forgot to get something called reflectix that I can line the cupboards of my motorhome with to help keep the heat down.  Anyone tried it?  They say it will reduce the inside heat ten degrees or so.  People put it behind the couch on the wall, inside cupboards and even inside the back closet.  I'm going to give it a shot and see if it helps.  

The sprinkler repair guy is due here at 8:00 so I better get my act together.  

Thursday, July 12, 2018

My List Grows

We settled in very nicely the first day except for twelve runs to the rig to get things I missed the first eleven times.  Just when I think I've got everything I need, something else jumps up.

Knowing Cooper would have a hard time getting on the couch, neighbors Patty and Dan brought over a set of stairs they had used for their puppy.  I actually succeeded in getting Cooper to go up twice, but instead of going DOWN the stairs, he jumped clean over them.  Of course he did, right?
This was my final solution.  Of course the queen of the house Jessie immediately took up residency in Cooper's spot.  The cushion seemed to make a perfect stair step because Cooper went up and down all day with no problem.  
Having been living on leftovers and popcorn since I can't seem to bring myself to eat in the heat, I decided to splurge on dinner.  Arizona Pizza Company makes a pretty good one, leaving me plenty for next week's lunches.
I picked up a job while here in trade for mowing my lawn when I'm gone.  Plant sitting.  Can you believe it?  I'm doing my very best to keep them all alive until the Chance family returns from their mountain cabin summer vacation.  These live in a magnificent greenhouse but can't be left alone.  Talk about green thumbs ... those two can grow anything!
As I wandered around the yard looking at all the green growy things in the desert, I heard what sounded like my air conditioning unit coming apart at the seams.  I envisioned it destroying my house it's so huge.  

So first thing yesterday, I starting making a list.  AC unit, sprinklers, drawer handles for the kitchen, carpet stretching so I don't fall down tripping over the big lumps, repairing the front entrance tile.  My list grows on an hourly basis.

Desert Valley Aire, the company who installed this unit, put me on their schedule immediately.  The nice guy showed up the same day at 4:30.  He took the top off and lifted the fan blades out.  No pack rats this time.  He thought it was the top bouncing because the braces had vibrated loose.  

In no time, he was inside the unit, pushing and pulling before announcing it was fixed.  YAY!!  He put the top back on, we turned it on and VOILA!!  It made just as much racket as previously.  Turns out it was the collar inside that lost a rivet and was vibrating, making all the noise.  

It was a five minute fix that I'm sure any handy guy could have made.  Even I could have done that.  $165 later, it's purring like a kitten.  Mark one off the list.
While out front, I realized the Chance family might have made a mistake having me take care of their plants.  This is what several of mine look like.  Dead.  The good news is that I called the local sprinkler supply company and got recommendations for repair services.

Carlos called yesterday and he will be here at 8:00 Friday morning to fix my sprinkler valves.  I think I'll have him revamp the entire back yard system so I won't go to jail for using too much water.
In the meantime, I've scheduled a trip to Lowes today.  There's a bright red light in my refrigerator that says I need a new filter.  I went on-line to look for something reasonably priced, but this unit is almost 15 years old and I couldn't find the right number to order.  My list grows again but I could care less.  I'm enjoying amazing thunderstorms in the desert and I can't wait to get out and explore.  Pictures to follow.