Sunday, July 25, 2021

When They Say Monsoon .....

They mean MONSOON RAINS!!!  Amazing amounts of rain have fallen in Arizona, with Tucson receiving over four inches in just one small storm.  These storms are going down in the history books.  This is Pantano Wash, the huge creek that wanders down from the mountains, past my place and on through Tucson.

This isn't the first time it's flowed like a river.  In the 1880's the town of Pantano was built just down the road a piece.  Torrential rains flooded the creek, washing out half the town, which was then built on the OTHER side of the creek.

It's not easy getting pictures since there is no place to pull over.  I headed for the tiny parking lot at the trailhead near the bridge, but was met with a lake at the bottom.  It's a good thing I looked first.  I doubt I could have backed up that steep muddy road.  

All I could do is a drive by.  This is where the rushing river sound came from yesterday morning.  The entire width of the wash looks like it was covered with water.  There are tree stumps big and small, some having been washed down from above.  

What's amazing is that here it is one whole day later and the water is still flowing like a river.  It rained all day yesterday, but my kind of rain.  No wind, just rain that never stopped to take a break.

Most of the water is flowing along the cliff side at the bottom of the picture.  I drove around for twenty minutes trying to get a better view, but this was the best I could get.

Further down where the channel narrows considerably, the News Channel took this picture.  It's a weird weather system that came heading northwest from New Mexico.  It then swung west (still raining here),  hit a wall and began to circle back around to us coming up from the southwest, raining here the entire time.  

Last night I expected to just wash on down the hill.  The rain on the roof was so loud Cooper started barking.  ALWAYS trust your dog.  We got up and had ice cream on the couch, just in case it was our last meal.  Just kidding about the last meal, but not the ice cream.

It looks like rain again all day, putting a damper on my morning escape to the quilt store.  There are many flooded areas between them and me, meaning road closures.  

The good news is my tarps are doing their job and have not been washed down the hill.  No further damage that I can tell.  Mr. Chance can make repairs when he returns, but I hope his timing is perfect.

He's been on a motorcycle trip up north.  In the old days if it started raining on us, we parked under an overpass until it let up.  For the girls that didn't come prepared, we handed out black trash bags to wear as rain gear.  

You've never been really wet until you've ridden on the back of a motorcycle while passing a Mack truck pulling two trailer loads of tomatoes during a huge rain storm.  We had a flat tire, so being the good wife, I got on back of another guys bike and rode home to get the truck.  When I finally peeled off those leather pants, my legs were completely black from the dye.  

I retrieved my husband and the bike before he got thrown in jail for loitering at the grocery store.  Such was the life of us motorcycle mamas!!

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Mansion Comparisons

We're not done with rain, nor critters, but a quick trip to the Empire Ranch near Sonoita is a nice diversion from scary, annoyed and WOW!!

The ranch was originally purchased ... or maybe just homesteaded ... around 1871.  Tucson businessman Edward Nye Fish originally settled here.  No one seems to know who actually built the old adobe ranch house.   Easterner Walter Vail and his English business partner Herbert Hislop purchased it from Fish in 1876, along with 612 head of cattle.  The sales price was an astounding $1,174.  

In no time, they expanded the ranch to 180 square miles.  Just as a comparison, our little ranch was ONE square mile ... this one 115,200 square miles.

I'm fascinated with this place, being a cattle ranch and all, which is still a working ranch, although scaled back considerably.  I was MORE fascinated when I spotted this sign on every door in the place.  Apparently some little creature snuck in when the doors were left open.  I opened every door carefully and kept my eyes on the floor, scanning every corner.  I am the snake whisperer, or more pertinent, I can run fast!!

When Walter's wife Margaret arrived from New Jersey in 1881, he built this eight room addition on to the existing structure, every room having 12 foot ceilings.  I rather imagine this was quite an improvement over the cowboy structure where the equipment shed was next to the kitchen, while the cowboys all slept in one room.

Here's handsome Walter Vail, the rich guy from back East.

And here's his wife Margaret in the sitting room/parlor you see in the next picture.  Obviously she was a nice lady.  She's petting her puppy dog who is sitting ON the furniture and in her lap.

I have to say this is much better than our little four room mansion ... oh wait, FIVE because we had a pantry.  Here's a look at the fancy parlor with fireplace behind the table.  We did at least have electricity ... one bare light bulb that hung down in the kitchen with a chain you pulled to turn it on and off.

We had no parlor and no dining room, but a kitchen large enough for a table where we were forced to sit until we finished every morsel on our plates.  EVERY SINGLE MEAL.

Here's what it looks like today.  I'm not sure who did all the painting, but every room is an eye-catching color.  This is the yellow room.  Neither did we have any of the four fireplaces.  In fact, I have no recollection of any heating devices in our little mansion.  

The pink room was for the governess.  Access is either from the outside, or through a bathroom.  Back in the day, the ladies of the ranches never lived ON the ranch.  They always chose to live in separate houses in town where it was civilized.  Walter Vail made the house so fabulous that Margaret chose to actually live on the ranch itself.  I imagine she was not aware of the Apache raids.

This kitchen closely resembles our old ranch house kitchen.  We had one big window, one small oven and one long sink/counter area.  Our floors were slanted to one side with a hole in the wall, about ten inches wide and one inch tall.  

Why you ask?  Because the floors that were mopped with soapy water once a month had to be rinsed.  We took buckets of water, threw it on the floor and swept the water out the hole.  A novel approach to a clean kitchen.  It did however allow access to any number of critters, so be careful where you walked due to the mouse traps and critters that had to be swatted every morning.  No, not kidding.

The family section of the house has beautiful plaster walls and ceilings covering thick adobe bricks.  Sections of the cowboy quarters have the original ceilings, including anything that was a long and straight stick, even pieces of ocotillo.  Above the sticks they layered scrub brush, hay and straw for insulation.  

What a perfect bed for the pack rats, as evidenced by all the droppings on the floor below.  It's also the perfect location for swallow nest building.

It's actually surprising just how much remains original.  In speaking to the RV Host, who I think wishes he had chosen another location, repairs are constantly on-going.  He said they spent over a million dollars repairing everything you see.  That's rather hard to believe, but I imagine the skillset to repair adobe is a rare commodity.

As you walk through the rooms, you can see the repairs.  The recent monsoon rains haven't helped the situation.  The host said last week in that tornado-like wind, they lost part of the roof on one of the barns.  A big chunk landed in front of his car as he stood talking to his wife.  Not being under cover puts his rig in danger.

We'll stop here while I process a few more images.  Just for giggles, here's my tarp project holding up part of the driveway.  The hole has expanded a tad, but the tarp seems to be working.  Sort of.  

I didn't get down to the riverbed yesterday, but will try today.  It's easier to stop in the middle of the road on a Saturday when there's no traffic.  I'll also pass along a tip or two about food trucks.  Woohoo!!!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Now THAT Was A Gully Washer!!

I think I'm in a state of shock.  You cannot even begin to imagine the storm that came through last night.  How in the world can so much water fall out of the sky??  No kidding, it was like standing under a waterfall.

Just as I fell asleep, the lightning and thunder began.  This wasn't your ordinary variety .... this lightning was immediately overhead and it was blinding, lighting up the inside of my house brighter than daylight.  At the same instant the thunder was so loud it was deafening, actually hurting my ears.  It shook the house and rattled the windows every single time.

I tried to get a picture off the patio, but couldn't see more than 20 feet.  It went on for well over an hour!!  As I sit here this morning with the patio door open, I can hear rushing water from the big wash below as a river runs through it.  In the years I have been here, there has NEVER been any water in that half mile wide gully.

That storm is now swirling south around to the left of us making for a lovely 72 degrees.  It was NOT lovely trying to sleep.  I was awake all night long.  I went out at 2:00 am to check my tarp placement.  To my amazement, there were barely rivulets running across the driveway.  I expected a river like what I hear below the house.  How could so little water do so much damage?

This morning, everything is still intact, not much the worse for the rain, with the tarps still in place.  Probably not the same guy as last time (same picture though) but a tarantula was parked under the RV cover out of the rain.   Smart cookie.

It will be overcast and rainy all day, with another gully washer arriving at 1:00 am.  Rain will continue all day long Saturday and Sunday.  Maybe I can get a picture of the "river".

Back to the Empire Ranch ... this is the headquarters where they fought off Indians and cattle rustlers in the old days.  I drove around back to find a host RV.  That's surprising ... I've never seen one here before.

Here's a new addition ... a sign warning of rattlesnakes!!!  Yikes!  That's not exactly what you want to see when you are planning on exploring said house.  But that's tomorrow's story ... because what happened when I got home was much more exciting!

Yessirree Bob .... that's a rattlesnake in a rat trap.  I keep two traps UNDER MY HOUSE!!  Every so often, I pull the heavy metal screens and check for eureka moments.  Hmmmm that's weird, it looked like a squirrel all wadded up.  

I probably would have died a horrible heart attack death if it had been alive.  And look .... somehow it got halfway INTO the trap before it snapped.  My heart was racing as I gingerly picked up the trap and threw it on the patio.  Obviously, it's been there for a long time.

I checked out the head.  Yup ... that looks like a fang right there, and two eyes.   I checked it's tail for rattles.  Since it's so long, it's obviously a big rattler.  To my surprise however, there were none.  This is apparently another of the rare (not so rare here) Sonoran Lyre snakes that has decided to grace my back yard every year.

So sorry Charlie .... not really sorry at all .... that you got caught in the trap.  Mr. Chance warned me that he had caught one or two under his house in rat traps, but I never expected it here.  

Well THAT was an exciting find, however completely overshadowed by the gully washer.  As I type, the river sounds are dying off a little.  The quiet before the next storm.

By the way, this is the only reason I survived the massive flooding that was predicted.  I ordered a HUGE pizza and nervously ate half of it so the water wouldn't wash me away.  I must weigh 30 pounds heavier.  The good news is I have half left for the next big storm coming in this evening.

In the meantime, Cooper and I will be trying to catch some Z's during the day, since there's no way you can sleep through a storm of this caliber.

But first, I'll be outside tidying up the corners of the tarps.

Thursday, July 22, 2021


It was an exciting and rather off the wall day.  No bull ... or maybe just a little.  Cooper, having seen all the selfies Mr. Gibbs has been taking with his new family Patsy and Bill, begged to do the same.  I must say the results were not quite as good. 

He had a hard time pushing the button on my phone.  Yeah, this is probably just a little bull.

So after finding yet ANOTHER tarantula on my patio (OMG do you know how fast they can run??), where I have never previously seen one in over four years, Cooper and I grabbed snacks, water and headed off to the Empire Ranch.  Since it's a little higher in elevation, the temps were a nice 82 degrees.

I do not know what these flowers are called, but they are beautiful.  At least three inches across, they are spread out everywhere across the land.

I kept an eye out for pronghorn antelope, but never saw a single one.  That breaks my record for seeing one every time I was there.  

Not in such abundance were the thistles.  We spent days and days burning these on the ranch.  Those thorns can cause havoc with the cattle.

Near the cottonwood growth by the creek, I ran in to two ladies looking for a spot to unload and ride their bicycles.  I prefer riding in colder temperatures, so those two were troopers to be out on a hot day.

Here's the info on the road for Doug.  The first 50 yards is washboardy, but after that it has improved a lot.  Even the cattle guards aren't bad.  This side of the creek was smooth as could be.  The other side still had the same big holes at the end of the concrete.  

From there on to the camping spots, nothing has been repaired.  I imagine they will fix it at some point, but the roads around the top are washed out pretty badly.  To get out, I ended up driving between two big trees that scratched my truck up nicely.  

That's when I met THIS guy.  For those not in the cattle business,  you usually have 3-4 bulls for breeding.  They are moved to a pasture by themselves for most of the year.  That was always the worst job on the ranch.  They are cantankerous, BIG so they can knock your horse over, and they don't like leaving the herd.

I really didn't get too close to this guy since he was mumbling something under his breath and giving me the stink eye.  Truly, these guys are almost as bad as those bison you see chasing people.

I headed on back down the road when I spotted this guy rubbing up against the trees.  If you look closely at the above image, you will see they are covered in black flies.  He was also giving off the classic get-the-heck-out-of-here mojo that I know so well.

You haven't lived until you have been knocked to the ground by a mad bull.  Thankfully my Dad was close by, told the dogs to GET him and he went after them.  Our cattle dogs saved me many times.  Champ and Blue were the best!!!

Just one tree over was the third bull.  See the head down stance?  No bull, he was pawing the ground, as was the other guy.  This is a territorial dispute about the trees and branches perfect for chasing off flies.

Suddenly he spotted me and switched directions.  Let me just say that if a bull, or any cattle for that matter, start walking your direction bawling, you should be getting the heck out of Dodge.  He made a beeline for my truck, suddenly burst into a trot/run while saying all kinds of bad words.  I drove off quickly as he followed me down the road.  That's definitely no bull.  So if they are out and about, you should not be.

From there I went down to the ranch house to find a huge white pickup truck party.  There were maybe ten or twelve parked by the back fence.  I drove up to the group of men saying I must have missed the email about the party, since I have a white truck!!  We had a good laugh.  

For those that have been there, they have been knocking down all the dead trees and leaving them lay.  This group of guys was out with chain saws cleaning up all that mess.  Not that it looks much better, but it's getting there.  

When I got home, I did a few chores around the house, including inspecting my rat traps.  Boy have I got a story for you ..... but it will have to wait for tomorrow, along with a quick look at the Empire Ranch headquarters.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Watch Your Step

 Everything is coming up roses.  Okay, not exactly, because two of my four rose bushes have bit the dust.  One is growing gorgeously, but only because it is under cover of the shade tree and gets lots of water from the sprinkler.  I even set the sprinkler to water all of them, but the Arizona sun is just too hot.

On the other hand, the Mexican bird of paradise is blooming beautifully.  It seems to like the hot sun.

Apparently so do the lizards, who have been out and about looking for that perfect taco-like snack.

It appears sunning is a dangerous pastime, because the tip of his tail has regrown, meaning someone tried to make HIM the taco.  I like these guys.  They eat all the creepy crawlies you find under everything that has laid on the ground for an hour or two.

After two cups of coffee, I finally donned my glamorous shorts with cowboy boots outfit and drug the lawnmower from the garage.  If I don't get it done, the not so very strong electric mower won't be able to get through the 4" tall grass.  

Since I was considerably sweaty, even though it was only 90 degrees, I hit the treadmill for a mile of uphill.  Why you ask?  Because the Pumpkin Patch is coming up and we have school buses full of kids this year, along with some new attractions.  I better start now or I will fade on the vine when it comes to those 7 mile walking days.

After a lovely cold shower, I looked out the window at my handiwork.  Mr. Horny Toad made a quick run through the grass.  No worries, I made doubly sure I wasn't mowing over him.  Their defense is to freeze, making them disappear into the sand.  It doesn't work so well in the green grass.

He finally skittered off into the bushes.  Back in the day, we would find one or two on the ranch, along with thousands of tarantulas.  Nowadays they are all gone, having been completely wiped out.  

There's nothing like driving a cattle truck down from the mountains and parking it in the yard, then pulling up a chair and watching all those spiders fall to the ground after hitching a ride.  I've no idea WHY that happened, but every year we could count on it providing some afternoon entertainment.  Yes I was completely creeped out.

I didn't make it to Empire Ranch.  Instead Patty Chance and I wandered on down to Green Valley to try and find some clothing.  I have a closet full of shirts, but almost every single one has holes in the front.  The only thing I can figure out is something on those little over-the-shoulder purses was snagging the material.  It seems the holes are in the exact location where the purse lands.  Not that I care, but it is rather embarrassing when a perfect stranger points out the holes to you at the grocery store.

Once home, I sat on the patio for awhile and admired the clouds.  In no time they turned black and threatening, so I went about trying to spread a 20'x30' tarp over the worst of the washouts.  Another storm came through, but passed us by for the most part.  Thunderstorm warnings have been issued for every single day this week, with a gully washer expected on Saturday.

In the meantime, I've gotten a couple of scam emails recently that sounded so legit I actually did a test to see if they were real.  There is a little down arrow next to their name on the email.  Click on it like I did here and it will give you the exact email address it came from.  The REAL one, not the one they have typed that says Chase Bank, or whatever.  It happens this is an email I sent, so it has my email address.

It said it came from Amazon.  It was regarding my recent order which was charged to my account for $358 and just shipped.  CLICK HERE.  Those words are a dead giveaway.  When I clicked on the down arrow, the address it actually came from was somewhere in the UK.  Obviously that's not Amazon.

The next one said my package had been delivered.  How many times have I had things sent to my house?  Hundreds.  Except this time I had not ordered anything.  CLICK HERE if you did not receive the package.  Nope ..... only place I'm clicking on is their name to find the real address it came from.  This time it wasn't very inventive ....  Well that's a dead giveaway.

One more was a notice that my account payment had gone through via PayPal.  CLICK HERE to verify.  The jokes on them since I don't use PayPal for anything.  

So be vigilant, watch your step and don't get scammed.  It seems they are out in force much more than in the past.

Also watch your step when you wander outside barefoot to let the puppy out.  This big guy was on my patio. Eeewwwwww I don't like spiders.  Sorry Patsy, but these guys are FAST!!!  By the time I ran back to the steps, he was gone.  Gotta love those nighttime critters!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Warning ... Warning!!

 Sometimes nights can be more interesting than I can appreciate.  Apparently the super monsoons have arrived in Arizona.  At some point in every day Mother Nature puts on a lightning show and waters her garden.  It's past due, so I can't complain.  I do love a good thunder storm.

I'm not sure what time it began.  Cooper was acting weird.  It's really too bad my #1 son can't talk.  He refused to go to sleep, getting wet nose to nose every few minutes.  We were up four times when I finally gave up and parked on the couch.  

At some point we both went to sleep, but Mother Nature had other ideas as strobe lights hit my windows.  I finally took a pill and tried to sleep to the pounding of rain on the roof.  Suddenly it was time to get up.

I wandered through the North forty (actually only two) to see what might be blooming.  After all, it's rained almost every single day.  There are several downed trees and cactus turned on it's head ..... and then there was this!  Six beautiful little balls of green with bright pink flowers.  

The ocotillo are taking full advantage and leafing out like never before.  Things are growing by leaps and bounds.

On the other hand, my little rut has turned into a chasm.  No worries, it's fixable, but in Mother Nature's time.  There are dangerous thunder storm warnings for the next seven days.  I've gotten more notices than I ever did about tornados!!  Someone is making up for lost time!!

Here's a warning many probably already know about.  Walgreens basically threatened me with extortion.  Well not exactly, but that's what came to mind as I made my purchase yesterday.  I picked up two bottles of vitamins.  The sign said $15.00 each.  

Funny, when I got to the checkout counter, they magically turned in to $25 each, with a total bill of $61.00.  Wait ..... I saw $31 flash on the screen.  If you "sign up" and give them your email address, your full name, your phone number and your zip code, they will give you a $30 credit.  Otherwise, pay up!!

Luckily I passed on the razors at $15 a bag or I would have had to borrow money from a loan shark.  Really Walgreens??  So like any good person being fleeced, I signed up to get the discount.

DO NOT do what I did.  Instead, go across the street to Safeway (or wherever) and pay only $12 for those vitamins.  By the way, I purchased the razors at Safeway for $10.  Fair warning ... there are crooks out there.  I would also note that some time ago, my prescription at Walgreens was $175.  It was $30 at Costco.

Amazingly .... sometimes the world clocks come together .... I passed by El Toro Taco Shop at exactly 12:00.  These are chicken corn street tacos, probably the best tacos I've ever eaten in my entire life.  I spent the next hour giving the sauce the complete taste test so I could duplicate it at home.  

I think I've come close ....... mayo, lime juice, smoked paprika, chipotle powder (of which I happen to have half a pound ordered by mistake on the internet) and a little water to thin it out.  I made my own last night and I got an A+!!!  

The other secret to these is the paper thin old fashioned hand made FLOUR tortillas.  Another rip in the earth's continuum had me standing in front of a bag of them at Fry's grocery store.  I don't even have to make my own.  Now I can sit on the patio and eat Class A homemade tacos.

It's time to check out the game camera to see if it survived the storm and mow the 4" tall grass.  Won't that be ducky!!!!  Then it's off to Empire Ranch for a look see, assuming of course the next storm holds off for a few hours.