Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hummer City

Here is another fascinating thing about the desert.  There are hummers everywhere.  Not the huge steel driving kind, but the teeny tiny bird variety.  As we drove up to Madera Canyon, we came across a big sign that said Hummingbird something or other.  Sorry, I didn't pay much attention at first.

Then we spotted this.  I'm pretty familiar with this setup.  You place a lovely painted background on a tripod, then set up a table with flowers and most likely syrup to attract birds.  Two big strobes (flash attachments) are set up in front, along with an expensive camera.  Voila!!  You have a hummingbird studio shoot.  When the hummer flies to the flowers, you snap the picture.
Although the pink background would be nice, I just shoot holding my camera.  Surely not as fabulous an image, but good enough when it's too hot to be outside!!  
As we wandered along the edge of the parking lot, we realized what was REALLY going on here.  There were probably fifteen hummingbird feeders, along with ten or so birdseed feeders, all with birds attached.  I've never seen so many hummers in one place before.  
There were lots of varieties I can't name, some very tiny, mostly medium sized with an occasional gorilla-sized guy thrown in for good measure.  
There are even benches for you to sit and watch the fray.  These little guys are territorial, especially when it comes to food!!  
There were a few other birds around, none of which I can name.  It didn't matter.  They were just fun to watch.
The cleanup crew was on the job, making sure not a single seed stayed on the ground.  There was so much going on you didn't know where to look.  If you're ever in the area in the fall, be sure and stop in.  Honestly, I could have sat there for hours and watched these guys.
On the way back home, we stopped in at a new Culvers in Green Valley.  I asked just how spicy the spicy crispy chicken was.  I mean really, it can't be THAT bad or they would get sued for burning someone's mouth, right?  The first two bites were delicious.  It went downhill from there.  By the time I got the last bite down, my mouth was on fire!!

No amount of water quenched the flames, but I drank it down anyway since it gave me two seconds of relief.  I know the bun (otherwise known as bread) wasn't on my diet since I gave it up four months ago.  A couple hours later, I was VERY sorry I ate it.  I finally located one lone stale tums on the shelf in the bathroom.  I ate it.  It didn't help.  Just a little reminder that my all time favorite BREAD is off the menu.

Back home, we had lots of fluffy white clouds before getting a little more rain.   Lightning is streaking across the sky as I type, but the wet stuff is dropping to the ground elsewhere.
The Pillsbury Doughboy stopped by to fix my dryer vent, without much success.  I'll relay that story tomorrow, but I have a question.  Will a solid metal pipe get too hot and start a fire?  Because that would be a great solution to this problem.  

You will find me on my patio this morning watching the hummers.  I now have TWO feeders.  I wonder if I should hang up a third??

Friday, August 30, 2019

An Increase In Elevation

I know I keep talking about the heat, but when it's hot in Arizona, there's not much else to talk about. Movement is kept to a minimum.  That changed this week when the Chance household said let's go to a higher elevation.  Maybe, just maybe ... it will be cooler.

This is Madera Canyon.  It sits in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.  When you look from a distance, you only see dirt and rock, but up close, there are intermittent streams galore (mostly in the winter) and lots of trees.
It's not developed like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, but there are tent campsites and picnic areas, ripe with birds and critters for your photography pleasure.  This was one dead oak tree among the living.  There are lots of hiking trails, but beware ... this is a place of weird unpredictable weather.
You must take lots of water and food with you, along with a can of bear spray, just in case you don't want company in your tent.  Sadly, in 1958, six boy scouts went on a hike up through the canyon.  Three became tired and returned to camp.  The other three continued until they were caught in a crazy snowstorm a few miles up the steep ravine.  Ages 12-14, they were unprepared and did not survive the night.
Originally, the Tohono O'odham people lived here, not surprisingly due to the water, trees and cooler temperatures at altitude.  On this day however, the temperatures were still very high at 86 or so.  The first permanent structure here was an adobe house built by a sheepherder and his family in the 1880's.    Later it became the summer house of a Tucson merchant, who painted it white.  The canyon became known as Whitehouse Canyon.
In 1905, the land became part of the Forest Service.  The Santa Rita Trails Resort was built, including cabins, a general store and a post office.  Unfortunately, the main lodge burned down.  It was rebuilt, but erosion and sewage problems finally caused the Park Service to demolish all the buildings.

No motorhomes ... the roads are very narrow, VERY steep and curvy enough to make me carsick!!  There are a couple of cabins left, only because they are on private property
Looking like little Alpine homes amid the oak trees, there is barely room to park your car.
We saw loads of birds and some deer as we made our way back down the hill towards Green Valley.  It was early, so we took the long route around the mines.  There are more mines here than you can imagine, including the Duval, the Sierrita and the Esperanza.  

They are all copper mines with mountains like this one as far as you can see.  Most have been closed down, but we did run into one that was still operating.  It was the end of the road for us.  
As we made our way back down the mountains, we saw one small subdivision of very old mobile homes, probably set up for the mine workers.  When I saw this, I yelled STOP.  Picture time.  At first we thought this was an old barn, but on closer inspection, it actually was a house.  I may just have to make a return trip and peek inside.
This is probably the first time I haven't said "I could live there".  I do rather like running water.  The water tank was a little tipsy and I'm sure very dry.
Home again, home again.  Back to the oven we went.  I'll relay the best part of that trip tomorrow.  We found a spot where you will love to sit for hours, making this trip worth every minute.  I'm definitely going back up the mountain.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Rain Glorious Rain!!

We have been waiting for the monsoons to begin for some time now, but haven't been holding our breath.  Apparently Arizona has only received half their allotted rain this season.  No wonder it's 103 feels like 120!  Still, there are more fabulous pinky orangey lavender sunrises to keep us wishing.
Yesterday, a partial dream came true.  With rain there SHOULD be cooling temperatures.  Not so much this time.  It actually got up to 103 when the wet stuff began to fall from the sky.  Weirdest weather ever!  We should sell tickets so EVERYONE can experience this!!
Finally as the sun went down to the constant booming of someone beating drums in the sky, the lightning show began and the rain started to fall.
I'm beginning to think Arizona does this just to show off.  The lightning show was amazing as flashes occurred one right after the other.  The bass drummer never quit or even hesitated.
It was like a light show on the waterfront at Disneyland.  None of the big flashes of electricity ever hit the ground.  Instead, they snaked their way across the sky from one side to the other.  
Soon, the steady rains began and continued for quite some time as the front of the storm hit Tucson.  It left us with a cool 77 degrees this morning.  Thank goodness for small favors.  I'm sucking in every molecule of coolness while I can.
It has made perfect timing for my dryer vent adventure under the house this morning.  I'm really hoping I don't come nose to nose with a spider.  The pack rats I can deal with!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Cooking For Two

Meet Kitty!  This is an extraordinary cat, to say the least.  Pets do not survive out here in the desert if left outside.  Between rattlesnakes, bobcats and coyotes, they are not long for this world.  THIS kitty however, is not only surviving but flourishing ... and he's wild.  Or at least he used to be.  He's become pretty accustomed to sleeping in garages and patio cat houses set up by all the neighbors.

If one neighbor is going to be gone, they notify the others to be sure he's fed.  On this porch he doesn't even mind the dogs.  I guess you could say he's a community cat!!
Speaking of pets, I'm now cooking for two.  My idea of getting already cooked chicken and just mixing in rice, hasn't gone over so well with Cooper.  Mr. Finicky has recently lost three pounds ... a lot for a 15 pound critter.

So after perusing the internet, I switched to ground turkey, which unfortunately I have to cook.  Add in brown rice, carrots, zucchini and spinach, and there you have it.  Dinner.  Other than the time, it's actually cheaper than canned dog food.  Cooper loves it ..... so far.  The good news is when I run out of money, I can eat the same thing!!
Instead I opted for a huge hamburger patty, so thick I had to cook it three times to get rid of the pink in the middle.  Rare hamburger isn't my thing.  It came out pretty tasty considering how many times it went back on the grill!!
After scanning the horizon for spiders, I actually went back outside to discover this.  You can't really see it, but there is a spider web about four inches around, hooked to the top of the grass.  That web catches water underneath from the sprinklers and holds it in place  This was about 12 hours after the sprinklers were on.  These desert critters sure have unique ways to capture moisture.
In other news, the part for my rig won't be in for at least another two days.  They said something about a problem in Las Vegas.  Hopefully that will be resolved soon.

Then, quite by accident, I discovered a leak around my large bathroom window when a big chunk of paint fell off.  An old leak thank goodness, but a problem nonetheless.  Did you know they make texture in a spray can?  I will tackle that project today.

I'm also gearing up for a trip into the cave under my house.  This should be fun, mingling with the spiders, scorpions and rats!  It's okay though, because I got a white painters suit to cover me completely!!  I paid two people to fix the dryer vent which is now laying back on the ground.  If you want a job done right, I guess you have to do it yourself.  This should be an interesting one since there's not enough room to dance around should something fall down my neck!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I Can Scream And Dance Like You Can't Imagine

Somehow when I was a kid on the ranch, or maybe before I was born, I got rhythm inside me.  What can I say, I just like to beat drums, play music loud and dance around.  Of course I never let anyone SEE me do that, but I do love to dance.  I practice my moves a lot when I'm in the car driving.

So when the Video Music Awards were advertised every ten minutes for the last week, I thought I might watch a bit, only because Taylor Swift was going to sing.  I had absolutely no idea who anyone else was.

The VMA awards, are all about RAP.  I don't know about you, but I can never understand a single word these people sing .. or rather scream.  There's not much singing going on.  

Here was my first OH GOOD GRIEF!  Yes, that's a very realistic anatomically correct HEART on her  chest with an arrow stuck through it.  At least she was covered up more than the rest of the gals, most of whom wore their bikinis to the ball.

This one also covered up with a crazy outfit of clothing I can't even describe, and yes, that's a snake around her neck.  In spite of all the crazy clothing, RAP has decided to embrace everyone, big or small, regardless of color.  I can totally agree with that, but seeing a 300 pound gal in a skinny bathing suit shaking her booty onstage like she's "doing" her boyfriend, was a bit much even for me.

I'm sad, although not at all shocked, to see Taylor Swift has left the country scene along with Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter Miley.  No loss there.  However, Billy Ray has a new protégé that strutted across the stage in a red cowboy outfit reminiscent of the 1950's Grand Ole Opry, rapping all the way.  He won best new artist.  
I danced around the house, loving the beat if nothing else, until I spotted this guy on the carpet.  My dancing came to a screeching halt.  Turns out it was just a grasshopper that I set free, even if he did have one broken leg.  He happily flew the coop.
I couldn't stop watching the award show.  It was like watching a train wreck!!  With three hours of VMA awards in the bag for another year, I headed to the back door to let the puppies out.  I slid back the door and got one step out before feeling something fall on the back of my neck.  HOLY CRAP!!!  I went ballistic!!  

I jumped around like one of those dancers on stage, brushing my neck and shoulders, screaming like a banshee.  I whipped my shirt off in one second flat and kept swiping the entire way down the steps. Basically, I panicked as I looked down and saw this guy trying to scurry away.  I think I should have won the VMA award for break dancing.  
I'm sorry to say (NOT SORRY AT ALL) that he did not survive the night.  At least I didn't break the sliding glass door with that big rock.  That led to hours of wakefulness.  Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was that spider.  

Today I'm going to watch a rerun of the VMA's, hoping to actually pick up a song word or two and completely obliterate that THING from my mind.  Maybe I'll even practice my new dance moves I learned last night when I FREAKED OUT!!!  Yes, I'm still swiping my back and shoulders continuously!!!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Quail Sleep In

There's an order of things in the desert.  Certain things happen at certain times, which mostly I ignore.  Early yesterday morning ... like 4:00 early ... something was rattling the rocks around the water station.  I imagine it was javelinas.  They are usually up at O-Dark-Thirty creating havoc everywhere.

Once they disappear, it quiets down until the sun comes up.  Around 8:00 a few songbirds will tweet here and there, making coffee on the patio a must.  There is absolutely NO sign of quail.  Apparently they sleep in every day.

By 9:00, the bunnies and quail come out in force, heading for the water station.  In no time, they fly over the two foot tall brick wall and line up on one end of the yard.  It's feeding time.  Little by little, they make their way across the entire lawn, eating everything in their path.

Dad walks the top of the block wall keeping watch as Mom and babies eat their fill.  Once they get to the other side, they scurry back to the fence and fly back to the water station.  EVERY morning.  It's the order of things and fun to watch.
Since it took an entire day to find these zip-off-leg pants, I bought two pair.  It's weird how I tried on so many to find the right fit.  Due to some kind of magic, when I got home the second pair didn't fit at all.  I'm guessing the salesperson accidentally put the wrong pair back on the rack.

Miss Patty and I drove all the way back to trade for the more comfortable ... okay, BIGGER ... pair, but alas, they didn't fit like I wanted.  If you're going to pay this kind of price for a pair of pants, they better fit like a glove.  In the end, I got my money back.  One pair will have to suffice.
We also stopped off at Hobby Lobby for fabric.  Who knew they had fabric??  Not only that, but it's $7.99 a yard on sale for 30% off.  Are you kidding me?  At the "real" fabric stores it's $12 a yard!  SCORE!!  

Since we were in the hood, that called for a celebration lunch at a nice Greek restaurant called Opa's.  Everything comes with appetizers ... fresh homemade hummus and tazatziki sauce with pita and cucumbers.  We ordered the gyro salad.  This has to be the best meat I've ever eaten.  Their servings are so huge we split the order, ending up with a better-than-McDonalds bill of $10.  No kidding ... we were stuffed!!  Great food and fabric to boot.  It's the little things in life!!
I expect to hear from the Cummins Repair Shop today about the SCR valve for my rig.  In the meantime, I found this jewel and wonder if anyone has tried installing it themselves.  I can't tell you how much I love my combination lock on the garage door.  I never have to fight all my packages trying to locate the house key.  I know many motorhomes come with this type of lock, but mine did not.  I have a key fob type entry ... which is okay, I just think this might be better.  

It's Monday-meet-the-girls day, so I'll be heading up the hill with my latest project ... paper piecing.  Apparently you either love it or hate it.  This should be something interesting that will test my brain skills.  Sewing is the easy part!!  I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Pink Rain?

It's been a little weird in Tucson this summer.  With maybe two exceptions, the monsoon rains have bypassed our little neck of the woods.  That is excellent in that I don't have big spiders looking for rooms to rent in my house.

On the other hand, many of my back yard plants are kicking the bucket.  I'm leaving most of them as is, since dead branches are an example of the latest in home decorating.  I see that all the time on TV.

It was rather weird to look outside a couple days ago and see this.  Pink rain coming down in a beautiful display of Mother Nature.  It was fabulous to see, made all the better by the smell of wet desert.  It was a cool 95 degrees.
One thing that seemed to be thriving in the heat was this wandering Jew plant.  It has been in a pot on my patio, on vacation from it's Chance household greenhouse.  Alas, it began life here and so needed to again make this it's permanent home.  The purple colors are just wonderful against the desert sand.  It was about a foot taller until I transplanted it into this huge pot by my front door.

In spite of being careful as I could, half of the branches broke off.  I stuffed every one back in the pot before filling it up with dirt.  Maybe they will take root.  It's under cover of the front awning, so it might possibly survive not only the sun, but the snow.  Fingers crossed.
Speaking of the expensive RV rally, here's the quilt I'm donating as the giveaway.  If you come, you get a ticket.  One will be drawn before the end of the rally and you receive this lovely piece of warmth, best used NOT in the desert.  The backing is that kitty-belly soft Minky stuff.
We're also having s'mores, using my handy dandy fire sticks.  There are ten in all, so it should be easy cooking on the campfire-in-a-can.  If we make it quick, the Fire Marshal won't kick us out of the fairgrounds.
Many of you may already know of this App, but here's one I found awhile back.  It's called FREECAMPSITES.NET.  (I fixed it Dave .. thank you)  Just plug in your area and it shows you everywhere you can park your rig for free.  Come to find out, there is even a small piece of BLM land in Tucson, not to mention the casinos.  Check it out if boon docking is your thing.  

Miss Patty and I wandered off to town yesterday to return those pants that didn't fit.  I'll explain that later, but just so you know, Christmas is going strong at Hobby Lobby.  

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Return of Buddy

I really slow down in the heat.  My body complains.  Lucky for me, cooler temperatures have arrived!  It's 74 this morning and predicted to be in the low 90's all this week with three chances of rain.  If I could put a crying imoji here right now, I would.  It's okay though, because my buddy named Buddy came back to visit and made it all better.

My sixth sense didn't kick in this time.  He was hiding in the bushes nibbling on the palo verde tree when I spotted him, so the pictures aren't the best.  I call these Deer Butts.  Look at those horns, would you!  My oh my, he has grown a nice pair.
All by himself this time, Buddy didn't stay long before he wandered off down the hill.
In the meantime, I went off in search of some good hiking pants.  SOME day it will cool off so I can hit the trails.  They are also good for summer wear, since they are very thin.  If you jump in a pool (or horse trough), they dry quickly too.  

Unfortunately I went to the wrong store about 25 miles away before discovering I really SHOULD head to an Outdoor store with everything imaginable.  Here it's call Summit Hill.  Many miles and hours later, I came home with one pair of long pants and a compass for when my phone doesn't work and I'm lost in the desert.  I'm thinking it will take a three hour class to learn how to use the thing.

Too bad I tried on TWO pair of pants and the clerk mistakenly put the right size back on the rack.  I see another trip in my future.

Although it was cooler yesterday and it even rained a tad, I stayed in the rest of the afternoon.  Here's the wall hanging I've been working on at the quilt class.
Tada!!!!  It's done, after only 327 finger pricks sewing those crazy wooden buttons on.  It didn't help that I used a very sharp quilting needle.  I think every stick went in at least a quarter inch.  I'm not kidding, a couple of times I had to pull really hard to get it OUT of my finger.
In the meantime, I'm working on the FMCA motorhome rally for Indio in January.  I'm pretty sure this will be the last year our group is involved.  Seriously, the add on 30 amp electric cost to stay in the fairgrounds has gone from $60 to $75 and now to $150!!  FOR FOUR DAYS!!  I think they have just priced themselves out of business.  I will be lucky to even get 10 rigs to show up at that price.  

To make matters worse, we have to be there for seven nights, so add at least another $75 to the already $315 cost of this rally.  I'm including three continental breakfasts, one pancake breakfast, one pork loin dinner, s'mores, a quilt drawing and entertainment, all for free.  I'm pretty sure that will be the last hurrah!  I know they are our "parent" company, but they are going to have serious trouble getting people to pay that much for the same ole same ole, if you know what I mean!!

We had PINK rain last night ... I'll try to get those pictures together today after I exchange those too tight pants.

Friday, August 23, 2019

In The Name Of Dieting

As you all know, the latest and greatest diet craze is Keto.  Eat all the fat you want (not really, you must keep the quantities small) and cut out all sugar and carbs, including bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.  The carbs were easy.  On the other hand, I'm addicted to sugar.

I eased into to this around the first of May.  It was super easy.  After all, I just LOVE bacon and anything involving CREAM.  Surprisingly ... I am truly amazed ... I lost ten pounds.  At that point it all came to a screeching halt.  It was easy to cut back on the portions again, because honestly, I was never hungry.  In fact, many times I just ate because it was noon or 5:00.

That's when I heard it is very hard on your kidneys, or so they say, so I cut out a lot of the cream stuff.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I cheated here and there.  Mostly with Kirkland ice cream bars.  I decided you really could eat kind of healthy on this "diet", so I quit making all the cream-cheese-cheddar-cheese smothered vegetables and began grilling them.

I'm happy to report that finally, after 3-1/2 months, I've now lost a total of 13 pounds.  Want to know my secret?  It's my fat girl shorts.  Don't laugh.  Yes, one little pair of denim shorts has helped me lose the latest 3 pounds.

Here's what I did.  I bought a pair of shorts one size too big.  The cool thing is they were really comfortable around the house.  Heavens no, I would never go out in public with them ... they are house shorts.  They actually made me feel skinny(er).  Wow ... these are big ... I MUST be losing weight.
Believe it or not, they helped me stick to the good-for-you foods (in smaller portions) because I tricked myself into thinking the diet was working.  I know, me and my brain are weird.  I'm at the point now where they almost fall off.  The best part is my REAL shorts and skorts fit SO much better!!!

So .... in the world of Keto ... here's the latest and greatest.  THIS is a dash waffle iron for $9.99.  We are making Chaffles.  It's pretty disgusting, really.  One egg, a dash of vanilla and cinnamon, along with a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.  It looks even MORE disgusting.
When waffle irons say they are done (the light goes out), they lie.  You really need to let them cook until the steam stops.  Wasn't I surprised to find THIS when I opened the top.  Wowwee!!!  
It was a little limp, as waffles go, but no matter.  I added a little butter and smothered it in fake maple syrup.  Yum yum!!!!  In the interest of full disclosure, not really.  Actually, I think you are supposed to eat only one little triangle.  

I dove in with relish.  I guess I can say it's different.  My eyes were saying Sunday morning waffle, but my taste buds said salt with a little bit of maple.  I kept trying bite after bite, expecting it to taste like waffles.  It never hit the mark.
I see lots of people using them as sandwich material.  Maybe that will taste better.  In spite of all the vanilla and cinnamon I put in, I only tasted salt.  So now you know ... chaffles suck ... but if they keep me losing just seven more pounds, I'll be a happy camper.  I wonder what else I can use this waffle iron for??

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Back To Pantano Wash

I've mentioned Cienega Creek previously.  It runs intermittently, depending on the rainfall.  Sometimes it impersonates an out of control river and sometimes just a dry creek bed.  It DOES however, roam along through the desert for 50 miles or so.  In some sections, water is forced up through the bedrock and it runs continuously, although very little.

The little town of Pantano (originally a stagecoach stop) has since disappeared into the desert, but was moved at one point due to the flooding that occurred during monsoon season.  It's hard to believe it got it's name from the Spanish word for Marsh.

Right where I live, it becomes Pantano Wash, dry most of the year.  I was wondering where all the critters come from that greet me at the water hole, so I took a walk down to the wash.  Okay, I actually drove most of the way with my AC on high since the weather insists on staying in the 105 region.

Wasn't I surprised to find a trailhead, right in my own back yard.  I was also surprised to see just how big Pantano Wash really is.  It's all protected as part of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area and unfortunately requires a pass if you wish to go for a walk.  That was rather disheartening.  I was really looking forward to checking out the bridge area for my deer buddies.
Yes, I broke the rules and walked a few yards in so I could take pictures.  I bet Miss Bobcat has a nice spot in the shade amid the cottonwood and willow trees.
That's when I found these tracks.  It's hard to tell if they are javelina or deer, since they are very similar.  Your guess is as good as mine, but I think deer.
Here's a picture of the creek from the 1880's.  Notice the lack of scrub brush and trees.  They say all the brush and cactus is a result of the huge numbers of cattle eating and depositing seeds across the country.  It's hard to deny when you see images like this one.
Yup ... it is a trickle of water rather than a raging river.  Occasionally too much rain did become a problem further downstream by my location, so over the years, lots of metal and junk cars were dumped into the river to keep erosion to a minimum.  Now there is a big project to REMOVE all said junk since it has become a bike-path park-like area as it go through Tucson.
If you keep your eyes open as you hike along, you just might find a spot like this where the Hohokam Indians ground corn in depressions in the rock.  Don't try this at home.  I did it with my family's Indian grinding stones in grammar school.  We made cornmeal with the delicate texture of sand and fried it up for our parents.  It was awful!!
I would like to have gone further, but this big puddle kept me at bay.  Yes I have 4-wheel drive, but didn't want to take any chances.  I'm sure by now this has dried up completely in our convection oven temperatures.
I tried to find out what this critter was that I found wandering across the road.  I've seen several of them in my back yard.  I think it's a white desert snail.  It's interesting how his foot is positioned.  I know, photographers will take a picture of just about anything!!!!
So that's it, right in my very own back yard.  Pantano Wash was not only the home of early settlers, but the temporary residence of many Indian tribes including the Hohokam and Chiricahua, to name a couple.  I'm pretty sure they didn't hang around in the summer heat however.

With temps still hanging out at the 107 level, I won't be adventuring out much.  I'm hoping the critters keep coming to me.