Sunday, February 18, 2018

It's RODEO Time!!!

The only thing more fun for me than a rodeo, is riding my own horses.  Unfortunately, I lost my last two a couple years ago.  First time in 68 years I've been without a horse.  During that time, I rode in many a rodeo, parade, horse show and cutting competition, not to mention working cattle on the ranch.  That makes rodeos right up my alley!

We picked up granddaughter Laila (Patty and Dans granddaughter) and headed off to La Fiesta De Los Vaqueros at the Tucson Rodeo grounds.  After maneuvering through the muddy parking lot (wouldn't that be fun in a 4-wheel drive .... wait, I HAVE a 4-wheel drive!!) we hit the ground running.  Here's Dan Chance and his almost-as-tall-as-he-is Laila who is almost as hooked on horses as I was at her age.
There were lots of pretty pink and purple hats to choose from, but thankfully, Miss Laila has better taste.
She talked Grandpa into a VERY nice black hat.  She's a girl after my heart, even wearing tall boots with her jeans tucked inside like I do.  Pretty cool!!
While they checked out a vendor, I hit the bull pens for a few pictures.  These guys are behind steel pipe fencing and fine steel wire, making pictures a little harder to get.  
Don't they look nice and sweet?  Just napping in the sun!
Until this guy!  I had him in my camera lens when all of a sudden he made three quick steps right up to me!  YIKES!!  I can read cattle pretty well, and when they put their head down and step toward you, you better look out!  I took a quick step back as I looked up from my camera.  He wasn't near as close as he was through my lens, but it was enough to get a big laugh out of some men at the other end of the corral.
There's lots of amazing food to order ... I mean who can resist a bacon wrapped sausage on a stick??
There's also the unusual at rodeos, as evidenced by this little guy.  Yes, that's a tail coming out of his backside.  Don't you just wonder what he's thinking?  Or what his PARENTS were thinking?
We hit all the belt and purse vendors, hoping for something spectacular.  Miss Laila needs a little more bling in her horse competition outfits!
Finally the Junior Rodeo started with barrel racing ......
and goat tying for the girls .... they run down the arena, jump off their horse and grab an already tied up goat before tying it's legs like the men do in calf roping.
Actually, girls can enter these competitions also, but it's usually just the boys who rope a calf, jump off and touch it instead of tying it up.  As you can see, he missed his mark.
Calf roping is the last one for Junior Rodeo.  Dads, usually seasoned ropers, head the steer while the Junior participant throws a heel rope.  I picked this image because she put the rope EXACTLY where she should have, wrapped underneath the calf.  When Dad pulls the steer forward, both back feet go in the loop and they score!!
I have to admit I took WAY more images than normal.  If you want to catch the action, you have to shoot fast.  I came home with 811 pictures to comb through.  Rather than overload you with rodeo pictures all at once, I'll spread it out over a few days.  

Here's one of the bareback riding broncs.  The guy behind him is hanging close waiting for the 8-second buzzer to go off so he can grab the rider and drop him to the ground versus the rider jumping off and landing in a pile in the mud.  
Back to work, I only have 750 more pictures to go through!!  I promise I won't post them all!!








Saturday, February 17, 2018

I Can't Help Myself

Whenever I see a sky with clouds and the sun starts to set, I can't help but grab my camera and run outside.  It seems to have a calming effect.  Especially after my run-in with DMV.  That's Department of Motor Vehicles for those uninitiated in the trials and tribulations, the horror, of California vehicle registrations.  If you want to go raving mad, just go online and try to get something done, or worse yet, pop in to one of their offices.

It's mostly my fault, since I forgot to change my address after the UPS store went out of business and took four months of my mail with them.  I changed to the regular post office (the second worst to deal with) but forgot to send DMV my changes.  Now my rig's registration is going to expire.

I went online to get the form to fill out so I could mail it in.  Got it ... then the printing fiasco happened.  Some machines and I just don't get along.  I got one copy printed VERY lightly.  When I tried to do it again darker, the printer objected, threw a tantrum and locked up the bar, giving me a paper jam error message.

I turned it upside down and inside out to find no paper.  Apparently it just died to spite me.  I mailed off the way-too-light copy and am praying they will make the changes in time for me to pay (online of course) for my $800 tags, which will be mailed to California.  Before I pay however, I'll have to find another printer to be able to print out proof of payment to the police when I get stopped for my expired registration.
The beautiful sunsets help to lessen the stress and calm the nerves.
Rather repetitive of me to keep showing them, but the colors of nature cannot be duplicated.  Not to mention that I never see anything like this in California.
Catching up, here's part of the chop job done on those hugely tall oleanders.  Cut down to the height of the fence, I can actually see the beautiful tree beyond.  They did a great job those kids.  This little concrete block wall is just enough to keep the javelinas out.  
I have several projects, including replacing this mishmash of a walkway, replacing tile at both entrances to the house and adding a gas insert to my fireplace.  I can't decide which to do first.

The palm tree looks much better with it's ears trimmed, so I suppose it will stay for awhile.  Landscaping is also on the list, but I'm not very good at it.  Angie's list, here I come.
Although the rain has stopped, clouds and fog will be in today's forecast.  Hopefully the rain stays away long enough for the rodeo.  It's going to be rather muddy I expect.  Mid week, the temperatures are headed back down to the low 30's.  I thought this was Arizona?  Land of sunshine!  Am I in the wrong state??




Friday, February 16, 2018

EWWWWWWW ... WORMS!!!

The wonderful rain we've had for the last day and a half will turn the desert even more beautiful.  It's already begun with these cholla.  They hold a rather prickly spot in my memory.  One day when my Dad went out ... this was very early in my life, I was maybe four when we lived in the high desert of California ... he rode Monkey Joe, a beautiful hugely tall red sorrel horse, as he checked on cattle over the hill.

Monkey Joe was known for being occasionally bronky, meaning out of nowhere, he would start to bounce around before breaking into an all out buck.  We were lucky to have the horses we did, so we rode them no matter what.  You always did try to figure out their current mood before jumping on, however.
Monkey Joe did great all morning.  When the fateful minute arrived, as he was sliding down a particularly steep hill, his hind feet went underneath an old barbed wire fence just as my Dad saw it.  Too late.  Monkey Joe went to bucking like he had never bucked before, throwing my dad into the biggest patch of cholla on the mountain.

When he didn't come home that afternoon, we went looking.  We finally found him limping down the mountain, leading a slightly cut up horse.  Unfortunately, Dad got the worse of it with needles buried to the hilt in his back.  

It required a trip to the local doctor (about 50 miles away) who used pliers to pull them out, one by one.  There was no such thing as pain killers in the olden days, at least not for us.  Monkey Joe recovered the next day.  I can't say as much for my Dad.  He was stove up for quite some time.  I think about that every time I see cholla.
At any rate, as I walked out to the patio first thing after a night's rain, I discovered a million worms on the concrete.  EEEWWWWW!!!  
There was even this inch long snail on the steps.  Snails in the desert??  That was a first for me!!  
The Thrift Store guys showed up right on time and loaded up all of the donations.  At least that finally worked out and my living room is now a wide open playground for Cooper and his ball.

The rest of the day I worked on finishing this quilt.  I'll take it back to California and have it quilted there, versus buying a quilting machine here.  Yes, I actually did think about it.
In the meantime, guess what??  There's a huge quilt show in Tucson TODAY, and although I had planned to be there with bells on, it's too much of an opportunity to spend WAY too much money. 

My Bernina sewing machine is just fine.  The reasonable accountant in me took control and said I really didn't need to spend $3-4,000 on another machine.  Sewing machines with only a FEW bells and whistles are EXPENSIVE!!  Level headedness has prevailed.

By the way, the wonderful smell in the desert is more from greasewood than mesquite.  I stand corrected!!   Thank you Patsy and thank you Linda for reminding me I don't really have a ship load of money to spend on fabric.  Only a small rowboat full and it's got a hole in the bottom!!  Although that actually doesn't keep me from buying more fabric because my name is Nancy and I'm addicted to pretty fabrics!!  

Coming up .... a RODEO!!!  Right up my alley!




Thursday, February 15, 2018

Rain And More Rain!!

It doesn't rain in the desert very often ... hence the desert I suppose ... but when it does, it POURS!!  The entire state has been getting wet since about noon yesterday and it hasn't stopped for a break.  I'm loving it!

There's nothing like the smell of wet mesquite.  That hales from my youngest days in the high desert of California on the original ranch, now buried under water by Lake Isabella.  The clouds here are black and ominous dumping a steady amount of water all night long and it's still going strong!
A nice steady flow just might wash my motorhome enough to be presentable.  On the other hand, I'm keeping a watchful eye on the far side which tends to wash out with excessive amounts of water.  I'm keeping the tractor on standby with a steady supply of peanut butter cookies.

The gardeners showed up and did a GREAT job!  It's part of a school program to teach kids responsibility, that all adults aren't mean like their parents and what it's like to accomplish something.  That's pretty cool in my book.  Unfortunately I was too busy to get photos when it was light outside.  

Although they don't normally take out big plants with big root systems, Jim decided to let his two biggest kids give it a shot doing something they really had to work at.  And work they did, chopping with pick and ax for almost 90 minutes.  Finally, using a come-along, they got it out.  I was pretty happy and so were they!  They accepted generous amounts of praise with shy smiles.  I'll be calling them again, that's for sure.
Then it was jump in the car and pick up Miss Patty for a birthday jaunt to Quilters Market in Tucson. Your discount on that day is half of your birthday.  That's a tidy little sum when purchasing fabric.  Unfortunately, they didn't have anything Patty wanted, so I picked up these fabrics for a song.

As reader Linda Sand said, wasn't I suppose to use up some of my stash before buying any more?  Shhhhhh Linda ... don't tell!!  When you get a discount, it's ALWAYS good to buy!!  After all, some day they may quit making fabric!  Ha!
We got home just in time to turn around and head to son Mark's house where he and wife Shandra (I'm sure I probably spelled that wrong) along with granddaughter Laila, prepared the most fabulous dinner.  

Perfectly cooked tri-tip and LOBSTER (and it was the best tasting lobster EVER) along with twice baked potatoes that I could have eaten three of.  I think I'll try to talk Patty into having more than one birthday a year.  I got home just in time to fall into bed and crash.

SO ... this morning the thrift store truck is supposed to be back to pick up my donation items.  The second that's done, I'm headed to the grocery store to find more of that lobster ... on sale (or at least it was) for $5 each.  The rest of the day I'm spending on the patio watching the rain!!







Wednesday, February 14, 2018

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!

It's that time of year again when husbands and boyfriends everywhere can be seen at their local Walmart or Walgreens buying their sweetie cards and candy.  At least that's what I HOPE you all did. If not, you still have time to plan a fabulous dinner somewhere, even if only outside your RV at the picnic table.

To make it even better, SOMEONE I know, who shall remain nameless because she will beat me over the head with a stick, is having a BIRTHDAY today!!!  A very happy birthday ... you know who you are!!  Oh what the heck .... it's Mrs. Patty Chance's 39th birthday!!!  
A little candy might have helped my yesterday.  I'm good at some things, like planting posts, quilting and spoiling my puppies, but I'm not so good at waiting.  What to do while I wait.  I twiddled my thumbs, watched TV, played with the puppies, paced back and forth and played every game on my phone, all to no avail.  I waited in vain.

There's a local thrift shop that will pick up at your house.  When I found out I was not the only one with good stuff to send off, we coordinated our efforts.  Apparently not enough however, since even though they gathered all my information at the first house where they DID show up, they did NOT show up here.  Not a call or even a howdy do.  No candy for YOU guys!!

Had I known what I know now, I would have sent a lot more stuff along with Mr. Chance, who made an early morning run to the dump.  I learned that good information when I finally called to see where they were.  They assured me I was never ON their pickup list, so I had waited for naught.

I have since rescheduled, but now must figure out how to get rid of everything they will not take.  Half a day was wasted and it was too late to do anything really, so hey ... let's BAKE something!

Cookies are my go-to desert.  They're easy to make, taste great right out of the freezer and only one will satisfy my sweet tooth.  Peanut butter ..... YUM!!
I ran into the same problem with not having cooling racks.  I actually drove to Walmart and searched through the entire store.  There was not one to be had.  The oven gave up her racks for me again.  I admit, I ate not one, but two.  They are just sooooo good right out of the oven.  Can you smell them?

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on these sunset images.
Are these not amazing?  They were all taken from my back yard.  It makes all that waiting worth while when you get to see this while relaxing in your favorite chair on the patio.

Today will be busy.  My gardening crew will come cut and hack in the morning.  Lets hope they are better than my California crew.  That will be followed by quilt fabric shopping with Miss Patty and dinner at their granddaughter's house.  Another perfect desert day!!







Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sugar Works Better

I think it always pays bigger dividends to be SWEET rather than SOUR, but at my age, sour seems to come before the brain engages.  I hate calling services that don't provide much service, especially when they change your programming and increase your bill.  You know who it is.  I had to call Dish Network.  Whether Dish or Direct, they're just the same in my book.

All of a sudden, my three favorite programs disappeared and the email I received said my bill was $10 higher.  How can that be?  At least when someone answered the phone, they spoke English and without the accent I can never comprehend.

After a long conversation, the gal said she could offer me a credit until April 1 ONLY.  My mouth tightened up like I just sucked on a lemon.  Are you kidding me?  You took away my favorite programs and you're going to give me a $10 credit for two months only?  That doesn't solve my problem.  It's costing TOO MUCH!  Well then she said ... I won't give you a credit at all!!!  As sweet as I could muster, I asked to speak to a Supervisor.

Finally my brain kicked in and blond Nancy came forth with a big smile on her face.  David ... I'm retired, TV is my LIFE, what can you DO for little ole me?  To make a long story short, I got a guaranteed two year contract for $20 less a month with the same programming I had before.  I hate haggling ... it takes weeks off my life.

To ensure that sweet Nancy remains that way, I decided to eat lots of cake!!  This is a new recipe I wanted to try ... a "professional" one.  Guaranteed to be the best most moist chocolate cake EVER.  
I was pretty worried when the batter came out very liquidy, but I poured it in my three 6" cake pans.  Hmmm ... there was quite a bit left over.  I dumped it into one more huge cake pan and baked all four.  Amazingly, every layer came out as level as can be.  That's a first ... but OH NO ... no cooling racks!! Think Nancy, think!  I took the racks out of my oven and laid them over the sink.  Perfect!  This is actually only TWO layers, each cut in half.
The frosting called for cream, but of course I only had milk.  That was worrisome until I spotted the whipped cream.  It's cream, right??  I thought to mix it with milk, but instead emptied the entire can of "cream" into the bowl and started up my trusty too-small mixer.  It took forever, but I had the best tasting frosting I've ever eaten.
I should have left the pink sprinkles off the top, but I like sprinkles.  I also like the chocolate seashells my baker friend made.  Now for the taste test.  Truly, it was the best chocolate cake I've ever had in my life ... and I've had a LOT of cake!!   Too bad I'm on this crazy forever diet and can't each much of it.  
HOWEVER ... it's going to be cake for breakfast for me before greeting Injoy at the front door to remove some old furniture left by the previous owners.   Then I'm hitting the treadmill to burn off some of that cake!!  

As I stepped outside this morning, it smelled like rain.  I just love being in the desert!

Did you know Arizona grows enough cotton each year to make more than one pair of jeans for every person in the United States?  They are also the largest producer of copper, more than all the other states combined.  



Monday, February 12, 2018

No See-Ums

These things give me the shivers.  Scorpions were never anything I wanted to meet in person.  Many moons ago while camping in Death Valley (I'm sure there are better places to camp) we were sitting by a campfire when my Mom screamed FREEZE!!  

I did exactly as I was told, having been completely indoctrinated in rattlesnake protocol on our horse packing trips to the mountains.  If someone says freeze, you do it so you don't get bit.  It happened on more than one occasion.

My dad grabbed a shovel and smashed a huge scorpion right between my legs.  For a fresh recruit of seven years old, that was pretty traumatic!!  Scorpions are NOT my friends.

I have been warned about them here, as they are very small and very hard to see, almost translucent.  They were right.  A couple days ago, I picked up a paving stone and found a tiny one-inch long harbinger of death looking up at me, completely camouflaged on the pale tan concrete.  Without even thinking, I smashed him with the stone in hand.  RATS!!  I should have taken a picture.  This one came from the internet.
There was nothing recognizable left ... I'm good at that part ... so I replaced the stone in the hopes another one returns for a photo op.  Definitely no see-ums since they are so small and can hide in the tiniest of cracks.  I actually found another very dead body in the bottom of my screen door.  Thank goodness the pest service is working.
Another no see-um around here, mostly because I haven't seen them at ALL, is the javelina.  They are here though.  How do I know?  Because they destroy my water station every time they stop by.  When the sprinklers come on and I see a giant water spout, I know they've been here.  

Javelinas like to chew things and have the teeth to do it.  They bite through the drip irrigation lines like nothing.  After all, they eat cactus with two inch long spines!!  Repairs are always required.
One thing I HAVE seen is hummers.  They are so tiny you almost miss them, except for the loud humming noise they make as they scream through the trees.  They have finally discovered my feeder. Although they don't come in bunches like in California, they are here and feed throughout the day.
This is the same guy ... he thought he heard something in the yard next door.  Boy did his neck stretch out for a look see!!
With all deemed to be okay, he went to feeding.  This little guy is about two inches tall.
My bunny buddies are no see-ums during the day, but come out every night about 5:00 for water.  Eventually the ranch hand will rebuild the water station and make it javelina proof.
Now THESE critters I see every single day.  We all sit on the couch at night, but obviously they don't leave me much room!!  They're so cute when they're asleep!!
If I'm REALLY lucky, I'll have some amazing Arizona storm cloud images this week.  The weather guessers say there's a storm heading our way.  






Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Ranch Hand Returns

The fun we had on the ranch, playing cowboys and bad guys using the saddle house as a jail, was always interspersed with LOTS of hard work.  Not only did we do the easy stuff like gathering eggs and raking up 10 acres of trash dropped from the eucalyptus trees, but we were on fence detail.

Being a ranch hand (child labor actually) we put up and took down miles and miles of fence.  One year I even took out five miles of barbed wire fence by myself.  Just me and my trusty little old 1940-something Ford tractor with a hydraulic lift.  I'm no stranger to post hold digging either.

When it came time to put one in the ground here in Arizona, I just grabbed my shovel and got to it.  You see my driveway is hidden behind the garage.  I can't see or hear anyone coming up to the house, so I found a system on-line that notifies me of movement with any of 32 original sounds.  Woohoo!!

Trouble is, it can't be facing the sun, which meant I had to plant a post and install it on the opposite side of the driveway.  No problem for the Ranch Hand who appeared in place of the blond who can't cook.

The hole is dug, but it took me some time.  Seems all that fill dirt hauled in is full of really big rocks, which didn't play well with a shovel.  By the end, I was down on my hands and knees digging them out.  I placed the post and like Fence Post 101 in days of yore, I dumped in one big bag of Quickrete.
A big bucket of water later, along with my trusty level from the RV and the post is set.  It's really not crooked like in the pictures.  I let it set up all day before filling in the rest of the hole.  DONE!!  Just don't push on it too hard because honestly, I'm not sure my fence post skills are up to par.
While working on that, this cute little roadrunner showed up to flip his tail at me.  I just love to watch these guys!!
Waiting for fence post concrete to dry is like watching paint dry, so I got to work hanging my quilt rack.  The ranch hand is better at post hold digging than hanging stuff on sheetrock walls.  After ten trips up and down the ladder and six tries, I finally got it up, except OH NO!  The rod is still laying on the floor and can't be put in place because the wall is too close.

RATS!!  I took it down ... that was a feat all in itself ... put the rod in position and after three more tries, finally got it up.  Not bad!!!  
With the post finally set and covered, I started work on installation of the gizzy.  You have to "pair" up the sensor with the main unit, which didn't really seem to work right.  I think I finally got it since  I could hear it beep in the other room when I waved my arms around in the kitchen.  Outside, with my trusty drill, I installed everything on the post.
Now comes the moment of truth!!  Back inside, I heard it beep twice.  I think it was picking up the movement of trees in the wind.  Pretty cool, right?  But alas, it beeped at everything.  I moved the sensor a tad and haven't heard a peep since.  Is it still working?  I've no clue.  It's takes two to tango and two to see if the sensor is seeing anything.  I am only one.  

The ranch hand loaded up on advil last night and slept like a log!  Surprisingly, I'm not even sore ...... yet.  




Saturday, February 10, 2018

Saying Goodbye To A Wonderful Man

When I first visited here in Arizona, I met Chef Patty's best friend Pat.  She's a whirlwind of good heart, always doing things for people, like embroidering Bags of Courage for kids with cancer.  She makes hundreds of them that she delivers to local hospitals.

Eventually I met her husband Jim.  He was rather quiet ... the perfect match for Pat ... and loved music.  He played several instruments and took lessons from many of the local music heroes from Tucson.  He even drove us three girls about 65 miles to a very tiny event center to listen to his buddies play ... which was amazing!!

Sadly, Jim hadn't been feeling well and received a terrible diagnosis of cancer just after I arrived here and he passed on to the Heavens above.  It was fast ... very fast.  Did I ever tell you Chef Patty is also Nurse Patty?  She was at his side every day doing everything possible for both Jim and Pat.  This entire neighborhood gathered around and did everything we could for such a loving, giving family.
Obviously these are not the greatest of images, but I wanted you to see the love these musicians have for their own.  Not only did they play for him at his house, but they all came to the Celebration of Life held at the local restaurant where Jim spent his Thursday nights, listening to them play.
We talked, we cried and we ate, all the while listening to Jim's favorite songs.  There couldn't have been a better sendoff than the jam session these guys held for three hours without a break.
So why in the world is there a treadmill here??  This amazing machine was first discovered in the Chance Cabin up near Show Low Arizona.  They gave it to Jim a couple years back to help get him in shape.  Wife Pat said she can't use it and offered it to me.  It's right up my alley.  For years when I was running marathons, I spent many an hour on the treadmills at the local gym.  
Yesterday, poor Mr. Chance and son Mark hooked up their little trailer and AGAIN, moved this monstrous beast, only this time to my house.  They had to take my front door off to get it inside.  I was SO excited to have a treadmill ... a NordicTrack no less ... in my living room.  I jumped right on.

Okay, how do I make this thing go?  Luckily they had all the paperwork, including the instruction manual.  There's a magic button to push before latching up the key and there you have it ... it turned on.  

I hit the button and started walking ... FAST!  Yikes!!  I was up to running at 6 mph before I figured out how to slow it down.  I definitely do NOT run that fast!  In less than three minutes I was huffing and puffing.  I know I'm out of shape but GOOD GRIEF!!   I thought Jim was probably laughing at me.

Can you tell what the problem was?  It finally dawned on me!!  I've been climbing a mountain for the last fifteen minutes.  Incline only goes up to 12 and I've been at 6, thus the RED lights.  I lowered it down to zero and what a difference!!  I started laughing, thinking Jim would get a big kick out of that!!
I finished my workout with a big smile on my face.  Every time I step on this machine, I'll be thinking of my new Arizona friends and how much I appreciate the Chance household.  

BIG thanks to Dan and Mark for moving this monster for me.  I wasn't kidding about that steak dinner!!