Thursday, August 16, 2018

I'm Officially Freaking Out

Okay, I'm pretty strong when it comes to critters.  I've lived and played in the outdoors for eons and come up against LOTS of spiders and snakes.  I battle black widow spiders at home constantly, but nothing ..... and I mean nothing ..... comes close to the spiders in the desert.

As it is, I can't use my guest bathroom any more since this guy and his buddy visited me last week.  In talking to the awning installation guys, one said if he found a wolf spider in his house he would burn the house down.  I was feeling brave up until he said that.
Still, I never go outside now without sandals on, and it's a good thing.  Time to take the puppies out for the last time.  As I flipped on the light and my foot hit the first step, I saw something big and dark brown by the steps.  I froze.  Oh come on Nancy, it's just a leaf or something.

That's when the SOMETHING moved!!  I totally freaked out, screaming at the dogs to get back in the house.  I almost tripped as I slammed the door, leaped over the steps to the patio and reached for the shovel.  WHAM!!!!  WHAM again and again until it quit moving.

That's the biggest spider yet .... HUGE ... the size of the palm of my hand ... and seemed to be darker brown than the others.  Lord, please make it stop!!  I don't think I can stand another encounter.  I scooped him up and dumped him in the trash can, only to find a huge wet spot ... probably pure venom!!!

I'm paranoid now.  No one can go outside unless I scope out the steps first with the lights shining brightly.  I do a quick search even as I move room to room in the house.  You thought I had gray hair before .. you should see it now!

At any rate, here's the best image I could get of the shade cover.  Built for 90 mph winds and luckily situated in line with most of them, as well as being protected by the houses above, it is cemented into concrete and should last a long time.  It is much bigger than I expected, but I love it!!
The kid fixed the sprinkler lines, installed downspouts and cleaned up as good as I would have before starting on the gutters in the back yard.  It's funny I don't see many gutters in this country.  With as much rain as they get, I am surprised.  

Even in my house, there are a couple of window sills that have received water damage due to the waterfalls coming off the roof.  That's not a problem on the front now, but the back really needed something over the four big windows.

Another job well done as I now have both the left and right hand side of the building covered, as well as the patio cover.   Drains for the house are installed outside the concrete block wall.  This edge of the back patio cover will have the only downspout.  Now I can't wait for it to rain again so I can see just how good it's going to work.  I don't know ... as much rain as I've seen here, they may just overflow.
In the meantime, Miss Patty's plants are going crazy!!  I've never in my life seen anything bloom like this one!!  In a mere three days, this baby has grown to ten inches long.  I can't wait to see it flower!!!
Well maybe I can, because seeing it requires I go down those steps where the big spider was.  Don't worry, my shovel now sits right by the door within reach!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Desert Shade

I know I've said this before, but it can get pretty hot in Tucson.  That wouldn't matter if it cooled down overnight, but in the summer months, you can kiss COOL goodbye!

One of the things that will help this situation is to provide more shade.  Lucky for me, the power situation is SO much cheaper than in California that I run the AC unit all day and night with my thermostat set at 81 degrees.  To help even more, I'm providing more shade at the front of the house.
The crew of one arrived a tad late, but started to work immediately.  After discussing the location and pitch of the roof, I went inside.  I've been known to stand around and watch every bolt installed, but decided this time to let him do his work without someone watching over his shoulder.  Maybe I should have taken a peak a little more often.
When I finally checked on the progress, wasn't I surprised to see it out three feet further than what we measured.  There are two mesquite trees to the right I was trying to keep outside the cover.  I was again surprised to find two limbs cut from the tree.  So much for symmetry!

I didn't get to think about that much when he told me his second in command who showed up late, had just cut my irrigation line in half ..... not once, but TWICE!!  Oh I know they will fix it, it's just irritating.  If you know you broke it once, why did you dig six feet away in the same line and do it again?
Come to find out, the walkway and retaining wall (really just a pile of rocks on the side of the hill) are not straight and even with the house.  Meaning I have enough room on this end for a dance floor and living room furniture!

My two mesquite trees will require a little more trimming today, but I can handle that.    
In the end, it's strong and beautiful and will shade that side of the house, possibly lowering my AC bill even further!!  There is still some molding to be wrapped around the outside edge and some cleanup, but otherwise she's done.  Now it's on to the back yard and gutter installation.
My new porch got her first run-in with the weather last night and stood up well.  I know I keep talking about the thunderstorms, but I'm telling you ..... you have never experienced lightning and thunder like the Arizona desert provides.

About 11:30 Jessie climbed on top of my head, waking me up.  I heard a distant rumble.  In a matter of minutes, there was a lightning flash that almost blinded me, followed instantly by a crack of thunder that made me jump out of bed!!  I'm not kidding folks ..... I'm sure that hit in my back yard.

Good grief Charlie Brown!!!!  Fifteen minutes later it was still going strong, with flash after flash lighting up my bedroom like strobe lights.  Thunder vibrated the entire house right down to the foundation, rattling the windows worse than any earthquake I've experienced in California.  Another ten minutes went by and the rain came down like a waterfall.  

The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes before the thunder moved on down the valley.  It took another hour before Miss Jessie Belle quit shivering, in spite of being rolled up in the blankets and squeezed tightly to me.  Her breathing shook the bed almost as much as the thunder did.  

As usual, there won't be any trains for awhile as they check the tracks.   Apparently a few weeks ago there was a big derailment in Marana (about 45 minutes northwest) due to flooding.

I had plans for today, but since construction began a little late yesterday, I've cancelled them all to keep an eye on the gutter situation.  I'm pretty sure I'll be asleep on the couch anyway, trying to catch up on lost zzzzzzzzz's.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Where Did They All Go?

So ..... I spent a lot of time, both inside and out, trying to get images of the meteor shower.  The rain that stopped in finally made it's way West, leaving lots of clouds behind.  That didn't bode well for a clear view of the sky.

It was pitch black outside as I set up my tripod.  That's not so easy to do in the dark.  I had even shut all the blinds inside so light wouldn't bleed into the pictures.  The clouds were amazing.
Even when the sun was completely down, the camera picked up it's last little vestige of light against the clouds.  It was invisible to the naked eye, but my camera picked it up nicely.
It's past my bedtime by now and I'm yawning to Cooper's howls because he can't come outside with me.  I don't think I was meant for midnight photography.  As the clouds began to disappear, the sky became more interesting.  I don't know where they pick up the light, but they looked pretty cool.  
These are all 25-50 second exposures, making the clouds fuzzy looking as they passed by.  Just when I thought I would get a nice view of the meteors, another cloud stepped in.
Finally, a clear sky.  LOTS of stars, but alas, not a single meteor to be seen.  Where did they all go?  You will probably have to click on the image to see the stars.
At long last, one really nice one flew by right out of camera range.  Well rats!!!  I spent another two hours sitting in the dark swatting bugs, hoping for the best, but absolutely nothing happened.
Bored as could be, I tried increasing the exposure time to 70 seconds.  This looks blurry, but it's actually showing the rotation of the earth.  If I increased it enough, the stars would look like long lines.  I actually did set up on Sunday night after poker, hoping for a clear shot of the sky, but it never happened.  Okay ... I'm done.  Enough of the meteor shower.  Back to scary desert creatures!!
I found this in the garage.  Thankfully he was DEAD!!  I've no idea what this is, but there were TWO along the garage wall where I had sprayed ... crispy ... meaning they fell apart when I swept them out.  That means the spray I put down is working, at least against these things.
I know that spray is the 12-month variety, but I'm going to spray again ... and again ..........

I had a really nice morning sewing with the local ladies just up the hill at my neighbor's house.  Pat fixed the best ever lunch of pulled pork with red peppers and pasta salad.  Gosh that girl can cook.  

I have good news too ... the awning contractor will be here this morning to begin construction on my front porch and install the gutters.  I'm excited!!!!  Pictures to follow!

Monday, August 13, 2018

45 Games Of Poker

I was up frightfully early after having spent the night trying to get meteor shower images.   That wasn't good since I really needed the rest in order to stay up late playing poker.  Not that the games run late ... we are a bunch of old folks from the hood that seem to hit the sack by 8:30.

I finally decided to finish up the painting that was started in June of 2017.  I don't know why the painters chose not to paint this lovely pinkish door.  This was the main color of the open floor plan kitchen/family room, along with a lovely shade of bright turquoise.

You can tell from my quilts that I like bright colors, but not on my walls.  I think it took all of 30 minutes to make it disappear.
VOILA!!!  No more pinkish brown door.  Feeling accomplished, I tried to reattach the door handle I removed.  That feeling disappeared in a flash as it took another 30 minutes to figure out how to get it back on.  What a difference a little paint makes.
I tried to nap here and there, but my brain wouldn't let me.  I kept thinking about the appetizer I decided to take.  I didn't need to, since there were about 23 people this time, meaning there wasn't even enough room on the counter.  

I cut up smoked sausage, placed a piece of pineapple on each one and stuck it with a wet toothpick.  Wet because if you don't soak them, they will catch fire in the oven.  I even remembered to get the natural colored ones so they didn't turn pink and blue.  A quick dip in teriyaki sauce and into the oven they went.

I only had to douse the flames on one as I removed them from the oven and headed out the door.  

The host family (with the most tables and chairs) supplies the main course.  In this case it was smoked brisket.  The players bring everything else.  You never know if you're going to have six potato salads or four pots of beans.

I whipped up my specialty ... Caesar Salad ... straight from the package it comes in.  I threw in a little more parmesan cheese and croutons, since they seem to be rather stingy with those ingredients.

There were lots of new faces as we sat down to play.  I'm not the best poker player, mostly because I only know how to play 5 card stud.  With a buy-in of $5.00 each, I tend to lose every time, but it's worth the fun and meeting new people.

There were games like Woolworths, Baseball, Follow the Queen, Low Hold Spade ... I've never heard of so many different ways to lose your money.  With seven playing at our table, I lost pretty quickly.  Finally a winning hand ..... 5 Kings.  Don't ask me what game caused that, because I don't know.

Another hand I won was where One-eyed Jacks and the Suicide King were wild.  What??  A Suicide King?   Who knew there's a King trying to kill himself??

At any rate, I came home with $3.60 and no leftovers.  It was a WIN for me!!  Not so much for my puppies.

Halfway through the night, the wind came up and the wildest storm yet hit the mountainside.  I bet we got three inches of rain in about 45 minutes.  Thunder and lightning was directly overhead.  When I got home, there were some big rocks in my driveway, having been washed off the hill above and two scared puppies in bathroom jail.

Luckily the motorhome was still intact, but my patio rug apparently became a flying carpet.  It was one of those horizontal rains.  The good news is it's 69 degrees this morning ... downright cold!!  It also has delayed the trains.  Seems they shut the tracks down during and after a storm like that until they run a check with their pickup truck looking for washouts.  I slept like a log.

Today I'm off to do a little sewing with the quilt group and contact my awning guy.  He said three weeks ... and guess what, it's been three weeks.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Little Walkabout

With all the cool weather yesterday, down to a bone chilling 70 degrees, I put on the least amount of clothes possible while still remaining covered in case the neighbors were around, and went on a nice walk around my property.

It was overcast with a slight breeze .... perfect!!  The ocotillo are all soft and fuzzy looking with their green leaves.  In fact, things are growing so much I can only see the tops of the trains as they lumber by heading up the hill.
You do have to be pretty careful where you step when wearing flip flops.  Critters out here don't like trespassers.  Although cowboy boots and shorts make a fashion statement, they are not for old ladies.  Wearing shorts was probably not my best idea either as I tried to skinny between the bushes.  Look at the thorns on these fuzzy ocotillo.  Well over an inch long and just waiting to stab you.
There are several of these big guys too, along with evidence of flooding down the hill.  I found two baby ocotillos that I may try to transplant to my yard.  Otherwise, there are no babies of anything, either cactus or critter.
The cactus are certainly loving the rain.  Look at all those blooms!!
With that done, I headed downtown to find something cooler to wear.  Everything I left here in March has long sleeves and is definitely NOT suitable for this weather.  Luckily Macys hired a great saleslady and was having a big sale.

I have a Macys card, but it's an American Express card.  It's what they sent me, so I used it.  Rarely, but I used it.  Come to find out, if I had kept using the OLD card, I would have gotten many more discounts.  Really Macys?

So here's what the nice lady did for me.  I applied for a NEW Macys card (no AmerExp) and got 45% off, added that to the sales prices and saved a chunk of $$$.  Six tops and one pair of shorts cost less than $8.50 each.  I was feeling pretty smug when I got home!!  Now the neighbors won't call the fashion police on me.

I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing up this quilt top.  I've got three more in the works.
Then I got REAL ambitious and finished installing cupboard handles in the laundry room.  That's when I discovered the paint for the pantry door, still an unacceptable shade of pinkish brown.  I put the can in the middle of the kitchen so I would be forced to get myself in gear.  All this heat has slowed me down WAY too much!

Finally it was time to set up for the big meteor shower that happened last night.  If you were on top of Mount Whitney in the dark, I imagine you saw quite a few.  Even as far out in the sticks as I am, I didn't see much at all.  Storm clouds didn't help as it rained on and off.  I'll process those today and see what I come up with.

Cooper wasn't happy with me being outside without him.  The second I came back in, he sidled up next to me and was immediately asleep.  Thanks big guy ... I sure wish you would do that in the MORNING so I can sleep in.  
More thunderstorms passed through in the night, causing Miss Jessie to sleep on top of my feet.  If I'm going to be any good at poker tonight, I'll just have to sneak in a nap.  

I'm also tempting fate with a new appetizer recipe.  Although it's made for the barbecue, I don't think I have enough nerve to try that out.  It's okay if it turns out to be cemetery material since I'm actually taking a green salad.  At least that's something I CAN'T mess up!!

In the meantime, if not snoozing on the couch, I'll be measuring windows for new shades.  It's bad when the heat keeps you inside.  My brain works overtime on projects.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Now You See It, Now You Don't

Who wants to drive all the way into Tucson when you've got a view like this.  Nothing stands out more in the desert than these Mexican Bird of Paradise plants.  It has been rather cool in the last couple of days ... as in the low 90's.  That's mostly because there has been cloud cover every day, which works just fine for me.  Now you see them, but in an hour, all those gorgeous clouds gave way to grey skies.
It made for a nice day in the city.  First stop ... an antique store.  I thought I might find a quilt ladder or another wall hangar, but I would be disappointed.

What I did find was that I was in the middle of a not-too-classy looking neighborhood.  It was easy to find the store, as the windows were all covered with heavy steel bars.  I wasn't really sure I wanted to get out of the Jeep, but finally gave in.  I've been an antique nut all my life.  Shoot, now I AM an antique.  The funny thing is that half of what they sell as antique, I actually bought brand new.  

I spotted the black quilt rack first, but of course it had a big NFS (not for sale) sign on it.  Why do you do that?  If you don't want to sell it, take the darn thing home!!  Luckily at another booth across the aisle, I found this one.  It's almost the same, just painted white.  It was a steal at $24.  Good grief, you can't even find cheap wooden ones for that price!!  SCORE!!!  
At the next store I found nothing.  Not unusual.  In the third store I snatched up a nice drapery rod for $20 that I'll use to display a quilt on the wall.  I'm definitely on a roll!!  Unfortunately, that ended when I arrived back home.

Just in time for lunch, I grabbed a Lean Cuisine, tossed it in the microwave and shut the door.  Now you see it .............
Now you don't ..... because that big piece fell off and hit me in the head before bouncing off the stove and slamming end first into my once broken toes.  I said a lot of very bad words as I hopped around the kitchen on one foot.  Gosh that hurt!!!  

I grabbed the piece and put it back, only to have it fall off again, this time barely missing my nose.  This is an antique that really needs to go, but this year the front porch awning comes first.  I found some earthquake putty, placed a little bit on all four corners and stuck it back in place.  It seems the little tabs that hold it are broken.  Hopefully the putty works long term because next year it's the RV cover.  
Now you see the rain, now you don't.  It dripped nicely on and off all day.  No thunder and lightning, just a nice soft rain, which continued last night and is forecast again for today.  If this keeps up, it just might be a lovely cool month.  Never in my life have I seen such a GREEN desert.  

Tomorrow is another poker night with smoked brisket.  These guys are certainly raising the bar when it comes to dinner.  That means another visit to the new Safeway store.  Now you see your money, now you don't.  It's a tad on the pricey side, but well worth not driving so far for milk, plus you get gas discounts.  

The puppies and I will be on the patio, enjoying the cool air and gorgeous sunrise.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Babies Are Back!!

FINALLY!  A good night's sleep, or at least as good a night as you can have on the couch with the Grand Canyon at your backside.  Mother Nature did NOT put on a big lightning show this time.  I could see a few flashes way off in the distance, but couldn't hear any thunder at all.  And I took an Advil PM.

It was a lovely 80 degrees all day, perfect weather to sit outside and watch the critters.  Who should appear but my quail family.  They all disappeared so fast, I was sure they were goners ... having become someone's lunch.

After partaking of the breakfast bar on my fence, they spent the entire morning hunting for bugs in the lawn.  Since no other quail frequent my lawn, I'm pretty sure this is the same family.
Someone told me they can fly when they are very tiny ... and they would be right.  There are actually two babies and man can they take off and scream to the top of a tree.  So obviously, that's how they got over my fence.
The second baby is walking behind mom.
Dad jumps up on my roadrunner ... a good lookout point.
Dad ... whatcha doing up there?? Huh? Huh?   Dad ....... whatcha doing?
In a flash he was up beside dad, walking the length of the roadrunner.
Love his little topknot mohawk!!  I can't believe they can fly with such teeny tiny wings and hardly any feathers.
Like father, like son.  They sat for some time scanning the countryside before heading back down the fence to the feed.  They sure are cute little guys.
Harbor Freight finally got their act together and shipped out my solar flashing rope lights.  They work great to deter packrats from under my rig, so I figured to get these two sets to keep critters from eating Miss Patty's cactus plants.  As you know, I was too late.

I hit the Harbor Freight store first, but was told they had been out for quite some time.  When I went online, there they were, so I ordered two sets, which of course never arrived on the awaited day.  When I called, they said the lights were in the mail.  Yeah right .....

Four days later, they arrived.  For $12.99 each, these are the greatest.  You can set them to stay lit or to flash or turn them off entirely.  Flash is better for keeping critters at bay.  They also look pretty cool around the edge of the patio.  
I think I'm going to get one more set and keep it in the motorhome.  It would be nice to have some outside lights early in the morning when I take the puppies out.  Yup ... they last all night long and then some!  

This morning we awoke to a nice soft rain falling on the roof.  I know I've said this before, but I can't believe it rains so much in the desert.  I just got another alert of thunderstorms for the next three hours.  I LOVE the smell of rain in the desert.

I've made a couple trips to town I'll relate later on.  Two more scorpions are no longer living and Miss Jessie's leg is doing MUCH better.  Thank goodness a trip to the Vet was not required.  I think the couch won't be required any more either.