Tuesday, February 28, 2017

She-She Groceries

There's upscale and then there's UPSCALE, as in mostly unaffordable.  Who would have thought groceries could be so expensive?

It was time for the three Musketeers to head uptown, and by that I mean it's about a 40 minute drive, to the Food In Root Farmers Market.  I wanted to stock up on their red chili tamales.  The first stop was the Chance Ranch where Miss Missy was posing for her money shot.  This baby should be on the cover of Kitty Food Magazine, she's so beautiful ... and fluffy!!
Miss Snoopy the flying cat should be right next to her.  She is well named, as one of her favorite games is to pull open drawers and hide inside, not to mention jumping up above the kitchen cupboards and looking down on her prey ... US.  
Next stop was Pat's house.  There's nothing like three women getting together to get in trouble.  Pat is the one who took me to the embroidery workshop.  This girl has a sewing room to die for!!  Look at all that beautiful fabric so well displayed.   She makes me want to organize everything!!
And we're OFF!!  I'm not really sure how we got there, I was just following Pat's directions.  This is the Food In Root Farmers Market in North Tucson.  They have more crafts than vegetables, but there ARE several food stands that will give you tastes of their products.  I tasted everything!!  
This beauty snatched up everything that hit the ground from the taste testing.  He's just a baby with lots of Bull Mastiff in his bloodlines, but as calm as could be.  Most puppies would be dancing the Macarena, but this baby just laid down in the sun.    In the meantime I tasted the macaroons.  I'm not sure why because I hate coconut.  No, that was NOT one of the things baby found on the ground.  I choked it all down.  Actually it was pretty good for coconut!!
Dogs are BIG in Tucson and everywhere you go, most are very well behaved.   When the puppy was jumping all over the more sedate and elegant standard poodle however, she finally put him in his place.  After all, this is a She-She market, not a dog park.
Here's another beauty ... so calm and sweet ... and SOFT!!!  She must be bathed and groomed at LEAST once a week!!  My dogs fall into the dog park category ... there's not much bathing done around here.
From there, we decided to drive up to AJ's market where they might have some Gruyere cheese I was looking for.  Talk about She-She ... good heavens ... I've never been in a grocery store as fancy as this one.  Every tomato was in it's place and it was so quiet!!

As we walked around looking for the cheese, we passed the meat counter.  Lobster was so expensive it didn't even have a price tag.  If you need to ask, you can't afford it.  We sauntered slowly by the massive array of chicken, lamb, pork and fish before coming to a stop at the fillet mignon.  They looked like really nice steaks, but the $44.99 a pound price tag was a Debby Downer.  Good grief ... I've never even paid that much in a restaurant where it was COOKED for me!!  I would have taken some pictures, but I was desperately trying NOT to call attention to myself.

Laughing at our beer budgets while we were in the Champagne section, we finally found the cheese, but surprisingly they did not have what I was looking for.  I almost bought an $8.00 cupcake to see if it tasted better than my $2 variety, but ended up with a $6 jar of corn/chili salsa to pour over cream cheese.  My RV friends will appreciate that at our next rally.

Just out the door was a William Sonoma store.  Coincidently, I have a Christmas gift card from there ... let's check it out.  This one was also very expensive for our tastes, but Pat found a couple of items right away.  Everything I wanted was twice my gift certificate, so I ended up with a very expensive chef's knife.  I'm sure the $19.99 ginzou knife at home would have been fine, but the 6" chef knife WAS free.

As we drove around the neighborhood of million dollar homes oohing and awwing, I thought it might be prudent to take a quick look at a modular house that was on the market before asking to go inside. After picking up Miss Patty's sewing machine at the tune-up shop, we headed South.

Who wouldn't want to live on Hound Dog Road?  That was our destination, but when you get out in the suburbs too far, roads become dirt paths going every which direction with no street signs.  It's up to the neighborhood to repair the roads and they choose not to.  I'd show pictures, but it was all I could do to drive!!

Talk about an off0-road experience!!  The girls heads were hitting the ceiling as I bounced along over ruts and ditches WAY too deep for the motorhome.  After a couple of wrong turns, we finally located the property.  What a shame.  It was a huge 2400 square foot home on one acre ... a corner lot.   It needed paint VERY badly, not to mention a bulldozer for the back yard ... and hit that road too if you would please!!

It's not that the neighborhood looked bad, but this house had steel bars on every single window.   We took a shortcut to get out, which was just as bad as the road we came in on.  My motorhome would never make it.  RATS!!  Another one down the drain.

After dropping Pat and Patty off at their respective houses, I went home to contemplate how to become more organized in both my RV and my house in California.  Pat had so many neat ideas, some of which she picked up at the Container Store.  I think I need to go there.

The sunset was not as spectacular as I have seen, but it's fun to sit outside and listen to the coyotes talk to each other while snapping a few pictures from the band platform.

Everyone coming to the Escapee Rally here in March will be happy to know all the sewer hookups have been inspected and the new RV park is ready to go.  Just watch out for those dips upon entering that area.  There's a pretty good drop between the road coming in and the parking spots.  I doubt my rig would make it without bottoming out.  Fifth wheel rigs might fare a little better.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Catching Up

There's been lots of miscellaneous tidbits I wanted to show you but didn't really have the space.  So here they are all glommed together.

This is the Titan Missile Time Capsule, to be opened on May 10, 2036.  Aren't these things supposed to be 50 or 100 year capsules?  Makes me wonder what they put in there!!  There is also a sign on the back that says this side up ... keep level when opening.  Maybe it's a birthday cake!!
I've been trying to be a little better with my eating habits, but as you can tell, I'm really bad at some things.  On the way to the Chance Ranch there's a place called Arizona Pizza Company.  They passed my olive and pepperoni count with flying colors!  Not only that, but there was lots of cheese and sauce ... making it a GREAT pizza.  Half of it is still in the freezer.  
On one slow afternoon I cleaned Jonathan's cage.  Parrots can be VERY destructive, tearing up drapes, chair legs, carpet and car tires if you aren't careful.  I let him out occasionally when the dogs are locked up (otherwise he would be lunch), but have to keep a close eye on his activities.  Just like a little kid, when he's quiet, you better check it out!!
When the dinner menu at the Chance Ranch read UGLY STEAKS, I volunteered to whip up some scalloped potatoes.  I don't know what was wrong with me that I spit out those words, especially after I couldn't find my recipe and had to hit the internet.

Remember that handy dandy salsa chopper Patty and I bought in Quartzsite?  Well let me tell you, it was $25 well spent.  This one has several cutting blades, perfect for onions and potatoes.  In less than 10 seconds, the onion was perfectly sliced.  The potatoes went just as fast, resulting in a delectable dish of potatoes, cream and cheese.  What could be better?    SCORE!!!
Next up, I wanted to try my newly seasoned and conditioned dutch oven for the second time.  After all,  practice makes perfect ... most of the time.   THIS time however, I messed up just a tad.  Unfortunately, a tad is too much in dutch-oven-cornbread land.  I accidentally used soda instead of baking powder.  

I caught the mistake, fished out as much as I possibly could and used a little extra baking powder.  It didn't work so well.  Although Patty and Dan said it tasted really good, it did not rise very much and needed a little more cooking.  Dan said "this one's NOT going to get buried", but in my opinion, it would have made good quail food!!
Patty on the other hand, can cook up a storm.  We had chicken fajitas one night that were to die for!!  I took notes ... lots of notes!!
On my way home from the Mission I followed this weird contraption.  It looks like the old sheepherder wagons from my area.  Funny though, it was made from canvas stretched over a thin wooden frame.  Maybe it's the latest type of motorhome-camper-thingy.  He had picked up a piece of plywood that barely fit through the back door.   It's different, to say the least.  I thought the top would fly off when he went down the freeway, so I kept my distance.
Yesterday I forgot to include my only purchase at the Tucson Rodeo ... this beautiful poster.  Every year they pick an artist to draw something just for that rodeo.  This happens to be for 2011 because I liked the picture better than any other.  I'll have it framed when I get home.  The $20 poster will probably end up costing $250 to frame!!  
Yesterday I stayed home with the puppies and played on my embroidery machine.  Saturday however, Patty,  Pat and I went to the she-she posh part of town before another off-road foray.  What a trip THAT was!  I'll tell you about it tomorrow!!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bull Riding ... The Scariest Event

This has to be my favorite image of the Fiesta De Los Vaqueros, or Tucson Rodeo for short.  There are lots of ways to ride a bucking horse.  This is how it's done ... balancing yourself over their withers (shoulders) kind of like a teeter totter.  They go down on the front feet, you lean BACK.  They go up with the front feet, you lean FORWARD.
This is how NOT to do it.  I don't remember when this style came about, but you can bet he will never be a World Champ.   He is actually still hanging on with his right hand (this is how he rode the entire time) ... but look at his legs?  They'll be on the wrong side shortly and he'll hit the ground.  I doubt he got any points for style either.   You've GOT to have the balance!!
See the difference?  Horse goes up, you lean forward.  All of these guys have their own equipment too.  Although there are rules regarding the saddles, they pretty much ride the same kind, none of which have horns like you see on regular saddles ... for obvious reasons.
Here's the same guy from the first image.  He may have been the Canadian Champion.  There were several champs in attendance and you could certainly tell when they rode their horse to the buzzer.
I have to give it up to the Tucson Rodeo committee ... they kept you going the entire time with lots of audience participation.  The rodeo clown wore a microphone and spouted off jokes right and left.  Here he was in his Evil Knievel outfit.  According to him, at 300 pounds, it was just a tad snug.  He was supposed to ride this little bike up the ramp and over the horse trailer.
I didn't think he would get far at all ... that's a pretty steep ramp, don't you think?  To the roar of the crowd, he went up the ramp and immediately dropped out of site.  There was a big hole in the top of the trailer.  He was pretty agile for a guy his size!!
This is one of the Pro Calf Ropers.  I noticed something different about these guys too.  In the "OLD" days, your horse was trained to back up after it stopped and "stay" so to speak.  Although I'm sure it's not cheating in today's rodeo, the cowboys of yesterday wouldn't be caught dead with a long rope attached to their bridle reins, going around the horn and through a belt loop ..... so when the rider jumps off, the rope pulls on the reins keeping the horse moving backwards.  Make sense??  Seems to me it gives them an edge.  I think only two calf ropers did NOT use that rope.
Barrel racing can be a little scary too.  When turning fast corners, the horses hooves dig through the soft top dirt to the hard pack below where they slip easily.  You can tell how far over the horse leans when you see the riders foot just inches from the ground.
And then there were the bulls.  These guys are always pretty cranky ... you would be too if you had a big belt tied around your middle and cinched down.  They are bred for their bucking ability and attitude when in the arena.  When back in the corrals with their buddies and no ropes tied on them, they are much more docile and easy to handle on horseback.
If you've been around cattle for awhile, you get to know them pretty well ... how NOT to push their buttons.  Just by taking a small step one way or another, you can direct them anywhere you want.  When I was an eight year old pushing cows into an alleyway from a large corral, my Dad told me to stand my ground and not let them get by.  

Nooooooo I cried, they'll run over me.  NO THEY WON'T ... STAND THERE AND WAVE YOUR ARMS he yelled.  He opened the gate, the cattle scattered back toward me and I bravely waved my arms, yelling at the top of my lungs.  That's when the old cow hit me right in the chest and knocked me flat.  I'm a quick learner ... I never got in the corral with the cows again unless I was on a horse.
With so many injuries happening to the bull riders, the new rules require kevlar vests and helmets, making it a little safer.  When you get bucked off, you jump up quick and run like heck for the fence!!  Hopefully the Rodeo Clowns will intercept the bulls and get them off your assets until you can climb said fence!!  Talk about brave!!  Usually the clowns are old bull riders who not only know cattle, but have been around these bulls long enough to know the idiosyncrasies of each one.  
Why the flags in their pants?  Bulls chase movement.  Those flags get the attention of the bull so it will chase them instead of the cowboy.  They wear big baggy pants to make themselves look like clowns, but really, it's for ease of movement and fast running!!  After all, they have a 2,000 pound bull on their butt!!
Eight seconds is all you have to do to get a score.  Even if you are hanging off the side when the bell rings, you get scored.  Lucky top scores get to do it all over again on the weekend for the money.  If you don't score high, you paid your fees and risked your life for naught.  Better luck next time.
Our motorcycle rodeo clown isn't really a bull riding clown, but he did get in the barrel for a little fun.  These guys know exactly which bulls they can play with and give the audience a good show.  They kept the gate closed on this guy so he would bounce the barrel around a little.  The REAL clowns were telling motorcycle clown exactly what to do, and when they said JUMP, he did ... right into the barrel. 
This clown had to make a run for the fence.  Imagine if you slipped climbing up?  That's why they wear tennis shoes instead of boots!!
It was great fun!!  I just LOVE shooting action pictures and it doesn't get much better than this.  Even though we were quite far away, my favorite Nikon lens still captured the images I wanted.  

If there's a rodeo in whatever town you are in ... check it out!  You'll have a great time!!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

EeeHawww Ride 'Em Cowboy!!

Back in the Good Ol' Days when there were still small cattle ranches in California, we rode our horses every single day.  We were either fixing fence, changing the water to run into another pasture or bringing in sick cattle for doctoring.  Once a year we would round up everything for the annual branding and shot routine.

We would run the cattle through a long narrow wooden corral-like thing we called a chute.  With the back gate down to keep them in, my Dad would walk along the upper deck and give multiple shots to every animal ... things like leptospirosis, pneumonia, hoof rot, lots of ugly diseases that could kill them.

During the branding, all the neighbors would come to our house ... mostly because we had the best set of corrals and the best cook ... my Mom.  It was always a game to see who could catch the calf first with the fewest thrown loops.  My favorite was of course Barrel Racing!!

When Patty and Dan said they were taking granddaughter Laila to the Junior Rodeo, I thought I might miss it since I was scheduled to leave.  What the heck, I signed up for another week.  The Tucson Rodeo is a big thing around here, as it is in Phoenix and Las Vegas.  Unfortunately in my neck of the woods, it's becoming something of the past.

So here we go boys and girls ... clap your hands and cheer for the fastest times!!  It's RODEO TIME!
I'm sure all of these kids were born and raised on a ranch like I was ... including this eleven year old who's a champion in the making.  He won $7000 last year in the calf touching competition.  What is that you ask??  They catch the calf, jump off and run up the rope like the big boys do, but instead of laying it on the ground and tying it up, all they have to do is touch the calf.  It's a little easier on the kids.
There were not a lot of entrants in the Junior Rodeo, so it was over in about an hour.  Next up was the Cowboys doing their thing in the preliminaries.  If you score high enough during the earlier rounds in the week, you get to ride for the money on the weekend.  
I have to tell you, this is not the rodeo of MY youth, even though Beutler and Sons still provide the bucking stock.  These horses have a lot of draft horse in them, making them HUGE and possibly not quite as hard to ride.
Don't tell the cowboys I said that however, as I'm sure they would be quick to disagree.  I think everyone rode their horse the full eight seconds.
Here's a future barrel racer in her cute pink hat.  In my day we wouldn't be caught DEAD in a pink hat, but today it seems to be all the style.  Her sister had one just like it and I saw loads of them for sale.
Once the eight second buzzer rings, you have to get OFF the bucking horse.  I honestly can't remember if this guy rode to the bell or not, but when he hit the ground, he got smacked by a hoof.  Once you are ON the ground, your first reaction is to get up.  When he raised up, he got a hoof in his back, knocking the wind out of him.  You can't really tell, but all of these cowboys wear Kevlar vests for protection.  He was a little slow to get up, but was okay.
Here's one for the bigger, stronger boys.  You ride your horse at a fast gallop to catch up to the steer, slide off the side going maybe 25 miles an hour ........
grab the horns and wrestle the steer to the ground.  Hopefully your horse keeps going.  Here's a little known fact about rodeos.  Those guys that own the best horses will loan them out to the bulldoggers and ropers for a good chunk of the winnings.  The rider gets the money points and maybe half the cash.  
That way he doesn't have to maintain the horse in the lifestyle he's become accustomed, which is VERY expensive!!  If you watch closely, you'll see riders changing horses in the chutes quite often.
This cowboy had a bad day ... and so did the horse.  He's already in trouble here as the horses hooves dug into the ground ... soft on top but hard as a rock underneath, making the horse slip.
I know I'm bad, but I worry more about the horse than I do the rider.  He went down with a bang .....
rolling over the cowboy's leg.  Were he a bareback rider (which I didn't see here) he might have fared a little better.  With saddle broncs, you dig your foot into the stirrup to help you hang on, which doesn't bode well if you don't get it out in time.  The rider was fine ... he limped off, but got another ride if he wanted.  True to the cowboy code, he rode the second horse to the buzzer.
In between the Junior and Pro rodeos, there were vendors surrounding the huge stands selling everything cowboy, and maybe a few things not so much cowboy.  I saw LOTS of really cool purses, but you'll be proud to know I didn't buy a single one!!  I stared at these beaded belts for quite a while, but passed on those too!!
In the second half tomorrow, I'll show you what I DID buy.  Even Patty said she was proud of me for not spending a wallet load, since this is MY kind of stuff!!

Believe it or not I took 688 pictures ... aren't I glad we went digital!! ... and had a hard time picking which ones to show you.  With this many, I have to break it into two days.  The bulls were the last to be ridden in a much smaller arena, making for "fence and hat" pictures, but you'll get an idea of what it looks like to ride a bull. 
Having been around bulls most of my life ... and by that I mean the cattle variety ... I have a lot of respect for their power.  I know they can bowl a horse over in an instant and those horns are most dangerous.  Would I or did I ever ride a bull?  Not in a million years ... but I did climb on a calf or two!!

Ride 'em cowboy!!!

Friday, February 24, 2017

"Birds Poop On My Shoes"

I've heard lots of excuses why NOT to see the birds at the zoo.  While at the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, I heard the best excuse of all ... from a little kid visiting with his parents.  "I don't WANT to go see those pink birds .... I don't LIKE birds ..... they POOP ON MY SHOES"!!!  Okay my little visiting friend ... I suppose you are right to some extent.

The peacocks were out in huge numbers, hanging in the trees and on the fences.  Their feathers are so gorgeous they make you want to pet them.
At least I know the names of these without looking in my bird book.  There was even a white pea hen, but she wouldn't pose for a picture.  As soon as a couple of kids came around, she was gone with the wind.  
Since there was no parental supervision close by for the busload of kids arriving after me, they ran wild through the aviaries, not seeing a single thing, then complaining there was nothing in there!!  I bided my time and waited.  Pretty soon the songs began again and the birds came out of hiding.    

If you know what any of these birds are, please let me know.    Although I spent some time thumbing through my book, most of these were not listed.  Possibly because it says something about North American birds on the cover.
These beauties were getting their morning exercise, not stopping for long at all to pose for pictures.  I'm guessing again that this is some kind of tanager.  If you are even more quiet, they will sing for you.  What a great way to start the day ... listening to the birds talk back and forth.
Another beauty with an amazing eye.  As soon as the camera clicked, he was gone in a flash!!  These guys are really FAST!!
Watch where you step around the flamingos.  There are lots of Mallard Ducks sharing the same pond. Sure enough, little Davie (or whatever his name was) got poop on his shoes and was very unhappy.  "SEE ... I TOLD YOU SO"!!!  Just watch your step around this big pond.
"You looking at ME"????   This spoonbill was pretty animated, giving me some of the weirdest looks, all while perched on one foot.  He gave me a couple of head turns like WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Wait ... I know what this one is ... he's a great hornbill.  Larger than toucans, this guy stands about 30 inches tall.  He made about as much noise as the kids did who ran right by him without seeing his magnificence.  See that thing hanging in the top right corner?  That's his play toy which he banged around with his huge beak.  It must have been a good day in Hornbill Land.
At long last, the kids left in one fell swoop, leaving the zoo much more quiet.  Time for a little lunch. As always, I asked the kids at the counter what THEY eat for lunch.  "I make a pretty mean cheeseburger with fries" won the coin toss.  Let me tell you, he was right.  It was delicious!!!  Yes, those are french fries, not mac 'n cheese ... if you think different, it's just a figment of your imagination, because they don't make substitutions!!  
Finally back at the rig, I downloaded 179 images.  Gee, I must not be feeling well.  That's a drop in the bucket for me!!  Maybe a little Tillamook ice cream will make it all better .... or not.  As much as I love Tillamook, the new Double Peanut Butter fell flat.  The only thing that tasted like my favorite peanut butter was the topping, which was gone in the first 15 seconds.  That's too bad, because I bought TWO!!
Some of you may know the Tucson Rodeo has been going on this week, mostly preliminary runs for the money show this weekend.  Today however, is the Junior Rodeo, a favorite of the Chance granddaughter Laila.  We'll be going this afternoon.  

In the meantime, I'm praying my neighbor's leave.  The jet engine roar of the heat pump six feet from my bedroom window has me in a lack-of-sleep haze.   I often wonder how people can sleep with that roar just above their heads.  Those trains at the Chance Ranch are looking (and sounding) better and better!!