Tuesday, July 31, 2018

It's Been A Week Of Firsts!!

With all the bugs around here, I've been pretty distracted.  I haven't even hit the sewing room for two days.  I'm afraid of what I'll find lurking behind the fabric.  Mornings like this make up for it though.  With all the rain clouds, it makes for some gorgeous sunrises.
My plan for poker night was to take something chilled and summery since the temperatures have been hanging in the 100's.  I've no idea why I decided to barbecue a skirt steak.  You know in the old days, flank steak and skirt steak were the cheapest 99 cent a pound pieces of meat you could find.  

This 8 inch piece cost me $8 a pound!!  I've no idea why in the world I thought to barbecue when it was 103 outside, but really, it couldn't get any hotter.  Four minutes per side and she was done.  Cut across the grain for some great fajitas or beef tacos.
Once I scraped everything off the grate, I figured to try and barbecue corn for the salad I was making.  Corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and avocado mixed with a little lime juice.  I've never done this before, so it was another first.
I thought I didn't leave them on the grill long enough, but took them off anyway.  It's hard to husk screaming hot corn.  I cut the ends off and tried to slip it out like the microwave version, but it wasn't happening.  Those stalks had a death grip on the corn.  Finally free, I put them back not the grill for some toasty grill marks.  That didn't happen either.

I also whipped up a quick tiramisu.  Now how in the world am I going to get it to the poker game 45 minutes away without everything melting?  It was genius ... my brain actually went into gear.  I got out my huge cake pan, turned the top upside down and filled it with ice.  The salad fit perfectly.  Since that worked, I figured to try the cupcake carrier.  The tiramisu pan fit perfectly in that one, surrounded by more ice.  I'm on a roll!!
I lost a total of $4.00 playing poker.  I mean seriously, I only won ONE hand all night long.  I've never gotten such bad hands ... nothing ... I got NOTHING!  That's when I heard someone say not to take Jones Road home.  I'm only calling it Jones because I can't spell the real name.  It's bad when it rains.

Trouble is, that's the only way I KNOW to get home.  I left at 8:00 with the sky looking like this image.  Lightning was flashing all around the entire valley.  My first thought was .. I'll just follow another car so if I get hit by lightning, SOMEONE will know I'm a goner.  In no time, it got seriously bad.  There was a line of four cars, all racing through the night to get around the storm before it hit.  

There was no rain, but the lightning was incredible!!  I began to pray.  I'm not kidding, it was scary with a capital S!!  By the time I got home, I had a screaming headache.  I took some aspirin and sat on the couch.
That's when it happened AGAIN!!  Never EVER leave your water bottle on the table without the lid. I learned that in California when a fly got in my drink.   So now, I ALWAYS check first.  It's a good thing I did, because wouldn't you know there was another dang spider INSIDE the bottle!  Drown baby, drown!!  He was already dead thank goodness.

So LAST night when the weather guessers said there would be no rain, it came down in buckets. Never in my life have I seen that much water fall from the sky.  How can those clouds possibly hold so much??  In ten minutes it went from quiet with no breeze to raging winds throwing water at my sliding glass door twelve feet back from the edge of the patio cover.  The rain was going sideways.

I'm not even sure the motorhome is still there.  I'll go look this morning.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would rain like this in the desert.  The good news is everything is blooming like crazy.  The bad news of course is that I'm sure there will be twelve more spiders trying to get out of the water and into my house.
Desert living ..... who knew it could be so exciting!!

Monday, July 30, 2018

I Have No Words ....

It's been a rough week.  I'm really not afraid of insects and bugs, honest, but this has been the week from H-E-Q-Q!!  Much as I DO enjoy the lightning and rainstorms, I'm not at all happy about the critters that come out of nowhere to harass and scare the life out of me.

They're laughing, I know they are.  Let's see if we can scare her today!  Have you ever had that moment when you do something really dumb, then look around to see if anyone was looking?  ALL the critters were looking and they were laughing!!

So first off I encountered two of these guys, lovely three inch long scorpions.  Everyone told me these were NOT the bad guys.  The smaller ones the color of the concrete are MUCH worse.
When I spotted this baby crawling on the window ... ON THE WINDOW ... I thought I had seen it all!!  What, he has suction cups on his feet?  He was crawling up the glass, but at least on the OUTSIDE.  He's now deceased, may he rest in peace.
Yesterday I was chased inside by this dragonfly thing.  He only stood still long enough to get this picture before flying directly into my hair.  I did 45 minutes of aerobics in ten seconds before I got him extracted.  Unfortunately, he was a little worse for wear.  I'm sure there are still a couple of wings in my DOO!!
I went to the guest bathroom to check in the mirror, and to my HORROR, there's another of those big spiders INSIDE THE HOUSE .. ON MY BATHROOM DOOR!!!!  I'm sure the neighbors heard me scream.  

I grabbed the flyswatter and tiptoed back to the door, took careful aim and WHAP!!!!  He disappeared.  OH NO!  Now what do I do??  I carefully pulled the door towards me to look on the back side.  He wasn't there either.  I panicked!!  I ran to the bedroom, threw on my cowboy boots (resulting in a lovely ensemble with my spaghetti strap nightgown) and went on the hunt.

Come to find out, he had slipped underneath the bottom of the door.  I swiped with the flyswatter making him slide up the back of the door.  WHAP!!  WHAP!!  WHAT!!  Dead ... he's DEAD!!  I did a little victory dance.  By now the puppies think I've completely lost it.  By the way, this picture was taken with my long lens camera from about 20 feet away.
Now overheated from all the exertion, I walked into the kitchen and turned on the ceiling fan.  Something fell from the sky, causing me to flail like I was on fire before almost falling on my butt when I tripped over the kitchen rug.  OMG!!! ANOTHER SPIDER!!  I am now officially freaking out!  WHAP WHAP!!!!  Really, I think he was already dead because I can hear the snickering from the corners of the kitchen.
How are they getting inside???  Feeling rather proud that I now had SIX marks on the wall (one for each dead critter), I plopped on the couch for a few text messages with Miss Patty.  That's when I saw it.  OMG PATTY ... there's something on my kitchen floor?  NOW WHAT?????  

I quickly ended the conversation before it scuttled under something where I couldn't reach.  I grabbed the flyswatter and snuck up on it like a great white hunter after a man eating tiger!!  WHAP!! WHAP!! WHAP!!  I hit it four more times, just for good measure.

That's funny, it didn't move or even change shape, as in smashed flat as a pancake.  I inched closer.  This one is going to be hard to kill.  I finally stomped it with my boots before gingerly picking it up with with the thickest hot pad I could find, along with my leather gloves.  I was taking NO chances.  

That's when I heard the roar of laughter as I looked around the kitchen.  How embarrassing!!  I have no words.  It's a cocklebur.  I just killed a cocklebur, you know, those pesky man killing seeds from outside.  How it got in the house, I'll never know.  Cooper is probably the culprit here.  After disposing of it outside, I fell on the couch exhausted.  
Jessie opened her eyes long enough to give me THIS look ... like what the heck is wrong with YOU??
I'm determined the critters will NOT get the best of me!!  That is until I run across a snake like the one I was shown last night.  One of my neighbors went outside to find a long red snake perched six feet up in a tree.  That would probably be the death of me ... I would have a heart attack!!  Thankfully red racers are not poisonous.  Maybe I'll be lucky enough to photograph one for you.     NOT!!!  

Poker was great.  I lost all my chips and half my butt.  GREAT people, lots of fun and wonderful smoked ribs.  It doesn't get any better .... unless that is, all the creepy crawlies would just disappear off the face of the earth!!!  I'm making a holster for my fly swatter.  I'm going to be the fastest WHAP in the west!!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Lightning Strikes Again .....

And again and even again for about two hours!!  All of these images would be better if the camera had been on a tripod, but there was no way I was going out to the motorhome to get one.  This has to be one of the craziest storms I've ever been in.

It's routine around here I'm sure, but the kids and I were getting nervous.  What if it hits the house?  What if it strikes the motorhome?  Mesmerized, I couldn't leave the patio.  I sat there taking hand held shot after shot, keeping the mirror open for 12-18 seconds (while I held my breath so as not to move the camera), just waiting for the strike.
I wasn't disappointed.  Every strike illuminated the rain pouring from the sky.  
These are all facing North, the perfect vantage point.  It didn't take long before the lightning strikes came one after another.  As fast as I clicked the shutter, another one hit the ground.
Two strikes at once ... three at once.  The sky lit up like a fireworks show.  Not only were they hitting the ground, but flashes came from the clouds above at the same time.
That's when I heard the crack to my right.  I jumped up out of my chair and ran for the door.  The thunder was instant and deafening!!  WOW that was CLOSE!!!!  That dark area top right is my patio cover.
I gathered my wits and went right back outside.  I just couldn't help myself.  Sitting a little farther underneath the patio, another blinding strike hit the ground almost in front of me.  Truthfully, it was probably down near the railroad tracks, but it was enough to make me cry UNCLE.
One last picture ... as always with people who photograph stuff, we need just ONE more image.   Okay, I'm done.  That was just WAY TOO CLOSE!!  I ran inside just as the rains came down in torrents.  I've never seen anything like it.
How can it rain like that when it's 103 degrees outside?  Yesterday afternoon, it did it again.  Not near as much thunder and lightning, but the rain that came down was epic.  I haven't checked to see if my motorhome is still there.  Hopefully it didn't fall off the mountain it sits on!

This Arizona monsoon season has pretty crazy weather!  You're probably going to see lots of lightning strikes in my blog!!  

Unfortunately it's supposed to happen again tonight as I trot off to the local poker game about 30 miles away.  That's probably not too good for the puppies who will be alone and locked up in jail.  I'll have to leave the radio on real loud.  Wish me luck, both with the poker and the rainy night drive!!  

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Blinded By The Light

What happens when you head out to a specific event and find it's on another day?  You try to come up with something else to justify that quarter tank of fuel you just used up.  My plan was to hit Food In Root Farmers Market in North Tucson.

I forgot you can't believe everything you read on the internet.  This time it said the farmer's market artisan fair would be open at 10:00 on Friday.  It took me almost an hour to get there, only to find the parking lot empty.

Well I do declare!   I sat in my Jeep for ten minutes before finding out it's on Saturday at 8:00 am, or so it says.  NOW what do I do?  Wait .... there's another one just three miles down the road.  Wasn't I surprised when I turned into a hospital with lots of construction.

I drove around in and out all the barriers and a huge parking garage for thirty minutes, before landing in the Doctor's parking lot with no farmers market in sight.  There was a sign at the entrance, I just couldn't find it I guess.

Forget that!!  By now it was 11:00 and 103 degrees.  I'll just stop in at Beyond Bread for lunch.  I've driven by several times and wanted to get another pastrami on pretzel bread, best sandwich ever!  Trouble is it's only available on Saturday.  I was batting 100.
I became the Chicken and waited for my Milton's Melt.  Turkey, bacon, tomato and russian dressing on rye.  I am NOT a fan of rye bread, but this homemade version was pretty tasty!  So much food, I brought half of it home.
Once I had driven a circle clear around Tucson and used up HALF a tank of fuel with nothing to show for it but a full stomach, I returned home to a weather alert.  Lightning began to hit the hills in the distance.  I couldn't stand it.  I grabbed my phone and went outside to stand on the lawn for some pictures.  It doesn't look too bad, right?
Two seconds later, lightning struck.
And struck again.  There were lightning hits every few seconds.
Isn't this crazy?  Sometimes they were double strikes.  Little did I know, poor Miss Jessie was having a conniption fit inside.  It wasn't the lightning that bothered her, but the thunder.
As the night progressed, the lightning flashes came faster and faster.  That's when I heard the CRRRAAACKKKKK!!!  What the heck?  Lightning struck just to the right of me, so bright I was almost blinded by the light.  The immediate thunder was deafening.  I ran for the house.

Here I was looking across the valley to the mountains and the storm was literally sneaking up to my garage door.  I grabbed my big camera and rushed outside ... keeping safely under cover.  

I took probably 100 images, all hand held.  There was no way I was chancing a run to the rig for my tripod.  During one break in the action, it was so close that I began to worry about my electronics.  I ran around the house unplugging everything important.

WOW ... THAT was one crazy storm!!  I'll process those images today and post them tomorrow.  It got to be rather scary when lightning began to hit so close to the house.

Once the big cell passed overhead, the sky began to light up over the mountains again.  There were flashes every few seconds clear across the horizon for at least an hour.  I did finally run out to the rig, but only to close the vent so it didn't get ripped off in the wind that followed.  I'll get my tripod today and keep it ready.

In the meantime, I'll be napping.  Miss Jessie was a blubbering mess, shivering constantly and just refused to settle down.  I finally grabbed her in a bear hug until she relaxed, then put a pillow over her head.  Maybe we got three hours sleep?  Cooper of course, slept through it all.
Another big storm is headed this way about 3:00.  I'm getting my tripod set up on the patio.  I'll be waiting ....................

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Ever Changing Arizona Sky

But first ....... I got a new wheelbarrow!!!  I'm SO excited!  I also got a square nose shovel yesterday.  I braved the heat, only because truthfully I was headed to the fabric shop, and picked one up at Home Depot.  I passed on the bricks however.  It's just too hot to even try, although rain is again expected this afternoon, cooling us off a tad.
Here's a sight you will never see around my place in California.  These little micro bursts are just amazing to watch.  Perfectly blue sky with a black cloud in the middle dumping gallons of water on the desert below.  Probably not so fun to drive through, but pretty to watch.
Then you see THIS!  Really, I didn't enhance the colors at all.  The sun shining on these amazing cotton candy clouds makes the sky look like gold bullion as it sets in the West.
The puppies and I sat outside on the patio and enjoyed every second of it.  I even located several planets with my Skyview App.
It lasted quite a few minutes as the clouds swirled slowly overhead.  The winds here never come from the same direction.  They're kind of squirrelly.
There's more rain in the forecast for the next three days.  That works for me as it will be a tad cooler, except my lawn is growing crazy.  It's in need of another haircut, so I suppose today is the day.
Apparently there will never be an end to the critters.  I wish I had taken a picture, but I felt so bad it escaped my mind.  I found a horny toad stuck to the sticky paper I keep in the garage at the very corner where scorpions can get in.  

I immediately grabbed a small thin rock and proceeded to slowly peel him off.  He looked dead, although I saw an eye blink and one toe move.  I figured he was not only exhausted from trying to escape but probably needed water badly because I'm sure my garage was 120 degrees.

I laid him on the edge of a dinner plate full of water in the back yard and sprinkled him just a tad.  RATS!  I think he's dead.  Now I feel awful!!

I put the puppies inside and went back out to check on him when lo and behold!!!!!  He was gone.  And I didn't even get a picture!!  Hopefully he's hiding in the bushes somewhere recuperating.  He blends in so well with the ground, I'm sure I will never see him again.

In other exciting news of the day, I was named Elk of the Quarter at my Lodge.  It's funny no one told me ... I just happened to read about it in the bulletin I brought along.  That's so weird!!  So just for kicks, I'm going to check out the local lodge here.  Maybe they could use a part time Bingo volunteer!!  Hahahahaha   Now to check out my fabric store finds.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Caught You In My Secret Garden

No not you, but the cactus-eating critter ... least I THINK that's who it was.   Not the dove shown here.  This is either Mom or Dad that have been sitting on the nest in the palm tree.
I've seen a couple of quail spending lots of time in my back yard.  This guy was strutting his stuff along the wall next to the quail block.
Wasn't I shocked to look out the window one morning to see this.  An entire quail family has been hiding secretly in my back yard bushes.  How cute are they!!!  In fact, that's why I bought the quail block.  That way they wouldn't have to roam so far for food, leaving the babies to their own devices.
Cute as buttons, these little kids.  Unfortunately I have only seen three in the last couple of days, mostly as they scramble back into the leaves at the slightest movement.  I love it when I'm outside and I hear Mom talking to them ... FREEZE!!  Don't move a muscle!!  
There is no way these babies can get out of the yard, so I was feeling pretty good about the quail block.  I really should have built a feeder up high.  Next trip to Lowes, I'll get a post.  I even bought a pie plate to set up a watering station for them.

That's when it happened!  I glanced out the window and what should I see but THIS GUY!!  AHA!!!  I bet he's the cactus bandit!  All the time I've been here, I've never seen a squirrel, or whatever this is. Is this a rat???  He sure has a LONG tail, but I thought rats had bigger ears!!  I threw a big rock at him and he disappeared over the fence.  

I spent an hour going around my whole house stuffing rocks down those holes I keep finding.  Maybe he'll move over to the neighbor's house.  At any rate, he'll probably stick to the quail block and leave the cactus alone now.
Catching up on miscellaneous stuff, I cut the BBQ mat down to fit over the grate, being sure to leave room around the edges for air.  
The problem is the grate is so filthy with grease and gunk that I don't want to get the mat greasy too.  So how do I clean this?  The grates come out, but what a mess.  I got a steel brush, but it doesn't clean off the greasy gunk.
Most of that came from these shish kabobs I picked up at the new Safeway.  How easy is this ... the work has already been done for me and they were $5.00.  Turns out you can skip these because they were awful.  The beef chunks were way too big and tough as leather.  

It's probably me ... I'm not so good at BBQ.  It's funny too, no matter how low I turn the valve, the flames seem to stay the same.  I think the LOW isn't working so well.  
So instead I went to the new Arby's about 5 miles away.   Terrible picture, but here's my review.  The smokehouse brisket sandwich was huge.  You can add extra brisket for $1.00 more, making the meal price come to $11.50.  

When I opened the bag, what should I find but CURLY FRIES!!  YAY!!  Love them!!  Unfortunately, they were the best thing about this order.  I'm pretty sure they made the sandwich six hours before I came along.  Half the sandwich was dried out, hard around the edges and hardly recognizable.  

There were crispy onions in there somewhere, but all I found was something soggy smashed into the bun.  The very center part had the only good bites that weren't dried out.  If you can get it fresh, I imagine this would be pretty tasty.
After a couple of 107-111 days, I was glad to see it cool off this morning.  Not that it's going to stay that way, but I'll never get that brick work done if it doesn't get cooler.  That's probably going to be in October!!  

It wouldn't be any different at my other home since they too are in a heat wave of 108 every day this week, plus the bad air from smoke.  They completely closed Yosemite National Park yesterday due to the closeness of the fire, air quality and the need for fire equipment to get around the roads.

Please say a little prayer for our firefighters.  We lost one of our heavy equipment operators when his caterpillar rolled over.   While in the construction business, we took many cats up to the mountains around Yosemite.  You can't get any more dangerous that working in steep ravines.  

They have seat belts, but no one wears them, thinking it's better to be able to jump free if the need arises.  There's another problem ... they have neutral just like your car.  If you are in neutral and start rolling, your brain doesn't work fast enough to hit the brakes with both feet and get it in gear before your speed is too fast and you are half way down the hill.  Our caterpillar ended up on the roof of a hotel.  No joke, it's a dangerous profession.

So I'm off to a quilt store this morning, mostly because they have air conditioning, unlike Lowes brick department.  I'm afraid the yard will have to wait.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

There's Always Some Bad With The Good

It seems there is always some bad along with the good I experience every day.  Here's a sample day.  I stepped outside with the puppies yesterday morning, cup of coffee in hand, to find my brand new plant blooming like crazy.  How cool is that??  On the way back in, I tripped over the rug I put out and dropped my cup, shattering it in a million pieces.  No worries, I've got MANY more.
About 9:00 I received a phone call from the HOA President that I had been trying to catch up with to get "approval" for my awning.  YAY ... I can turn in the paperwork, not that it mattered because I was going to install the cover anyway.

NOOOO ... he's coming over to the house to take a look.  Really?  I think all they have control over is the color, which at this point doesn't matter because the guy around the corner painted part of his house PURPLE.

The GOOD news ... the HOA President arrived and after inspecting every inch of the front of the house, he gave me approval to build the cover.   He said if Dan was building it, it would be the BEST.  Well Dan isn't building it, but I didn't want to burst his bubble, so I remained silent. 

It was 111 degrees yesterday, so my outside wanderings were short and sweet.  The previous morning I discovered THIS!!  OH NO!!  One of Patty's cacti (cactuses?) is GONE and the top has been bitten off the second one.  WHAT THE HECK?  
I moved the remaining one up to the top shelf and this morning IT was GONE!!  Here I was so proud of how I had watered them and they were all still alive.
Even MORE bad ..... that's when I also discovered the bites out of this one.  Hey ... this is over twelve inches off the ground.  What's eating them?  Can't be rabbits, there is no way they can get in the yard. Do you think it's pack rats?  I'm in shock and MAD as a wet hen!!
I moved them all to a tall table with metal legs, hoping nothing could crawl up that high.  Whatever it was didn't seem to bother any of the other plants, just the cactus.  Since the flashing rope lights work against rats under my rig, I'll get several and surround my patio.  That might look rather cool at night!

I jumped in the Jeep and headed off to Harbor Freight, my favorite stinky store.  To my shock and horror, after driving 20 miles to get there, the shelves were completely bare.  They had not gotten any in for over a month.  RATS!!!  That's what I'm going to have ..... RATS!!  I bought a $6 pair of leather gloves and headed off to Walmart.
Walmart can be a bad store.  $60 seemed to be the magic number on this day.  I picked up three solar lights, hoping the rats didn't like being in the spotlight, a pie plate water bowl (I'll tell you about that one tomorrow) two sets of patio lights and a quail block of seeds to feed the locals.  

Next door was Petco where I found dog treats, also to the tune of $60.  Good grief Charlie Brown.  These kids eat better than I do!!

Finally back home, I set up the lights.  Take THAT Mr. Rat!!  Wait .... what's this weird green creature on one of the cactus plants.  No idea what it is.  Should it's days be numbered?  
That's when I spotted THIS guy heading straight for the cactus plants ... at least where they USED to be.  Could THIS be the culprit?  Do these guys eat cactus?  I tried to shoo him away, but he was persistent.  As I watched in amazement, a bird came down and tried to grab him by the tail.  He missed and the lizard scampered off.  You never know about these critters, whether they are good or bad.
Last night as darkness fell, I was looking forward to seeing the solar lights come on.  Nothing!  Well for heavens sake ... I'm going to have more rats after all.  That's when I discovered they have an on-off switch.  Uh oh ... that's bad ..... they all shine directly into my living room.  I'll adjust them later.

I checked the cactus garden this morning and all looks okay.  I'm ordering more flashing lights from amazon anyway, just to be sure critters that go bump in the night don't come a visiting.

There was another beautiful sunset along with that 111 degrees.  The good news, only 102 today, dropping down to the 90's all week.  I'm pretty sure I will be adjusting next year's schedule.
I finally got some pictures of the OTHER critters in my back yard ... the good kind that I LOVE!!  I'll show you those guys tomorrow.