Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Greatest Show On Earth!

 Occasionally in the desert, Mother Nature puts on a show.  The greatest show on earth!!  They can be gentle rumbles barely heard above the birds chirping, or they can be crazy light shows extraordinaire.  Such was the case this week when we were privy to Mother Nature's best.

Come one, come all to see electricity that can fry you like an egg on a hot tin roof!!  

This storm came in just over the mountains as most do.  Lucky for me and my camera it was far enough away that I could sit on the patio and enjoy.  As the lightning struck, I would begin to count ... 1001, 1002.  But before I even GOT to TWO, the thunder came like canon fire.

I decided to stay under the patio cover out of the way.

THIS one was a little too close for comfort.  The storm had worked it's way down into the canyon where I was sitting.  You've never seen me move that fast!!  In two giant leaps I was in the house.

What's so cool about the storms is just that ..... COOL.  They bring 70 degree temperatures along with the lightning and rain.  Late July to August are definitely monsoon months, although this is the first really big set of storms in a few years.

It's interesting too that lightning never takes the same path to the ground.  You would think after awhile it would run out of oomph, but that's not the case.  This storm lit up the countryside as it moved northwest with continuous strikes.

I'm mesmerized by the power.

Come to find out, Mother Nature had more in her pocket and put on an even greater show last night.  There will be more images of that light show that was better than Coldplay's or even the Fourth of July!!  

Even better, our temperatures will stay in the 80's for awhile.  The only down side is all that rain is making my grass think it should be twenty feet tall.  Time to get out the mower AGAIN!!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Handy ... I'm Becoming HANDY!!

It was another work day, in spite of the rising heat.  Luckily there is almost always a slight breeze running through my RV cover, so if you have eight bottles of water and a chair, you can survive.  Dan and his handy dandy backhoe (I only helped a little with a shovel) were able to fix this washout.  

He dug it out in the center and completely filled it up with big rock.  Water should easily drain out now, not taking all the sand and gravel with it.  Last night was a good test as another gully washer hit the ground.  It didn't last long but it was one of those that makes you think the roof is going to cave in.  Not one rock is out of place.

This is the second washout, mostly because it was fresh fill dirt.  Water runs from way up the hill, across my driveway (and across the gas line) to this point.  Repairs have to be done carefully.

This is now completely filled in with rock, so it too should be hunky dory.  I took a quick look this morning after the heavens let loose and we are all good.  I'll check again when daylight comes around.

I can say without a doubt, everyone should know a handy guy with a backhoe.  I cannot thank Mr. Chance enough!!

In other areas of repair, I finally got up the nerve to replace the second water valve.  Believe it or not, I didn't even need a wrench.  Only WAIT ..... I have the wrong valve.  I sounded something like the Geico gecko saying (dramatically) I HAVE A FLAT TIRE!!!   These lines are different from the previous one I fixed.  I put it together and headed back to Ace Hardware.

Still not sure I knew what I was doing, I took it apart again and installed the new one.  I did a little happy dance.  I think it's working!

Of course you always feel a little worried when you have five little parts left over.  So far it's holding it's own.  There are no geysers in the bathroom ...... yet!

That went so well I decided to tackle my screen door, whose little plastic feet broke off last week.  Wasn't I surprised to find the hardware store had METAL feet.  That certainly sounded more long lasting.  There was a little glitch when I put one on backwards, making me actually use my brain to figure out why the screw didn't go in the hole.

At last the door was almost in place, although which track the feet go in had me stumped for a few minutes.  I found I had celebrated a little too early when I spotted the half inch hole at the bottom where the critters could enter free of charge.

At least I knew that was adjustable.  It took a little ingenuity to figure out how to do it after the door was in the track, but with three screwdrivers and a pair of pliers, I got it done.  It actually rolls SO nice ... like a real screen door. 

There is another big storm coming in today, so sadly I can't get out and explore yet.  I can't believe I'm saying it ... I'm getting a little tired of sewing quilts all day long.  I did get quite a few pictures of last nights lightning storm.  I'll be posting those tomorrow!!

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Let's Rock And Roll

What a day .... what a day!!  It was gorgeous and cool in the morning, perfect for coffee on the patio in the dark.  The only sounds were the cooing of the dove and the chirps of the quail.  It's fun to hear since they are so vocal.   I geared myself up for the work of moving rock.  I've been known to be pretty handy with a shovel.

That didn't really last long as the heat climbed up to 95 degrees rather quickly.

When the rock didn't arrive in the morning, I finally called.  Having worked in the sand and gravel business for many years, I know how it goes sometimes.  There's nothing worse than someone calling constantly and asking where's the truck.

I finally placed the call .... some time between 1:00 and 3:00.   Sure enough, the driver arrived a little after one.  Dan showed him where to dump.  As the bed began to go up, a few rocks fell out the bottom.  

STOP!!!!  I ran to the door and hollered STOP STOP!  It was the wrong rock.  They brought 3/4" crush instead of the 1-1/2" we ordered.  He left and I called the shop.  I don't know how they got it wrong because we were IN their shop and pointed to exactly what we wanted.

Two hours later he returned.  This time I climbed up and looked over the top.  Yup ... that's it!  ROCK!!  Dan got on the backhoe and began making the washout repairs while I watched.  There really wasn't much shovel work I could do at the moment.  

A little later when it was hotter and more uncomfortable, I began moving it around and down the hill.  I have to say I really do like hard work.  Might have been nicer to be cooler, but it makes you so much stronger.  Even swatting the flies and gnats will help get me get in better shape.

By the end of the work, I was pretty tired, although feeling MUCH better than the day before, but I didn't get pictures of the finished product.  I'll do that today.

So why is this picture here you ask?  It seems I can't get away from the Magic Castle and BINGO!!!  I got a phone call late Tuesday night I forgot to mention.  The Infernal Machine was being it's usual rude self and they couldn't get it to work.  Somehow, by pushing the wrong buttons accidentally, the machine was requiring Clerk Numbers.  We don't DO Clerk Numbers.  

I racked my brain for a minute or two while chaos and yelling could be heard over the phone.  Ding ding ding!!!  I remembered ... told them which keys to hit and VOILA! ... the Infernal Machine sprang to life and they were back in business.  It's nice to be needed.

As to those smoking ribs I was working on .... they came out maybe a tad overdone.  I was way late in getting them in the smoker, so I upped the temp to 250.  That certainly did help out in the smoke department, making it easier to get that delicious flavor.

It also makes it harder to know when they are done.  Using a temperature gauge does not always work well.  At any rate, they were pretty tasty.  I gave half to the Chance household.

There's a little more rock work to be done this morning, and I hope to borrow a wheelbarrow from Mr. C so I can move some of the leftover rock to my front yard.  Now that the back yard is up to snuff, I need to fix the flooding in the front.  

Time will tell fairly soon if our hard work does the trick.  More rain is expected every day with a gully washer tomorrow or Saturday.  OH BOY!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

And it's a BABY!!!!!

 It was a work-your-butt-off day ..... as even MORE rain fell in the afternoon.  First thing, Mr. Chance and I went to order rock from the sand and gravel business.  Back in prehistoric times, I weighed out and sold  thousands of tons of rock.  1-1/2 inch sold for $3.50 a ton.  The same size crushed concrete now sells for $8 a ton (at least that's what I think they said since my brain got overheated a little later).  Trucking which used to cost $55 an hour is now $90.  Our drivers were paid $10-12 an hour.  That's inflation in 25 years.

While waiting for the rock to be delivered, Dan worked on the washout.  We wrangled some concrete and moved a little dirt in 92 degree weather.  I'm sure we were out there two days, because I was exhausted and HOT.  I hate getting old!!  

At last it was done until the rock arrives today.  I cleaned up some dead branches here and there before plopping on the couch.  In spit of Cooper's pleas to come play, I just couldn't do it.  It's pretty disheartening to know you used to run 26 mile marathons and now need to sit on the couch after only two hours of work.

Just after lunch, the thunder started talking to me.  Rumble rumble grumble!!  A couple big cells were swinging around the neighborhood.

Luckily, this missed us as it headed west.  I could hear the river rushing again this morning, although not near as loud as previously.

Having defrosted some baby back ribs, it was time to set up the smoker.  Actually, two hours PAST time.  I rushed them a little and eventually had to move the smoker since rain and smoking don't mix well.  I'll report on those tomorrow.

In the meantime, I walked around surveying the rain damage here and there.  This poor bush got smashed by a chair in that last big wind storm, but it's certainly happy now!!  In two days it has bloomed magnificently.  

That's when I spotted THIS!!  I'm so very excited.  I saw Momma Hummingbird on her nest, looking like she was feeding.  That could only mean one thing!!  I waited patiently until she flew off, ran up with my phone camera and stuck it over the nest.  

Sure enough ..... WE HAVE A BABY!!  Now to see if the other one will hatch.  Hopefully this year the darn roadrunner will stay away.  From now on if I see him, I'm chasing him off!!

The rock should arrive this morning, so I better get to it.  With company coming, I actually have to get dressed in something presentable ... you know without big holes in the shirt.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Eagle Eyes

At last the rains have slowed.  Lucky for Mr. Chance that he picked the only sunny day to return home.  One day, to distract us from the overhead waterfalls, Patty and I set out to find Off The Hook.  If you like fish and chips, this is a great place to check out in Tucson.  Give them a call and they will even come to your birthday or anniversary party to feed the crowd.

They did seem to have a little problem with ordering.  In a flash, they were overwhelmed, causing a few orders to get mixed up.  Wait time was over one hour, which you might think would cause everyone to find another venue.  Nope ... cars lined up just waiting.  That's a pretty good recommendation.

It did make for loud voices after it was discovered four meals should have been SEVEN!  With nowhere to go, Patty and I waited patiently.  One catfish and one red snapper dinner.  Can you tell which is which?  Neither could we.  Underneath the fish my eagle eye spotted Cole slaw and two hush puppies, $13 each for dinner.  Not bad since mine made three meals for me!! 

On my way to the store yesterday my eagle eye spotted this guy.  I wasn't kidding when I said I keep my eyes on the ground!!  Next to him was another at least three times the size.  I don't think I've ever seen a lizard that large here.  I tried to capture his likeness, but he was having none of it.  That's probably why he's lived so long to get that big.

I was after a taste of Nick's.  Eagle eye or not, if you like ice cream, you would have spotted this ad!  I'm always on the lookout for ice cream with no calories.  I'm pretty sure there is no such animal, but I keep looking.

Surprisingly I found it!!  The chocolate was elusive, but I figured the butter pekan would be a close second.  The spelling appears to be Swedish, since it says it's Swedish ice cream.  I must say it's the first low cal ice cream without that bad aftertaste.  Not the sweetest in the world, but much better than any other I've tasted.  You might give it a try!!

You don't have to have an eagle eye to spot these guys.  They usually travel in big groups.  There's only three here, but they have come around for a taste of water every night for three days.  As you can see, there's a water drinking pecking order.  Please wait your turn.

Sometimes the creatures around will test my eagle eye.  I still scan the bathroom every time I enter before stepping foot inside.  I do not want another spider encounter.  My head is on a swivel, even as I sit on the couch.  I'm a barefoot girl, so eagle eyes come in handy.

As I walked from the kitchen into the living room, I made my first sweep.  WAIT!!!  I see something in the farthest corner ... just a quick shadow!!  I knew in an instant what it was .... SCORPION!!

I quickly slid on my big cowboy boots and practiced my fanciest dance moves as I squashed him like the bug he is!!  About two inches long this guy was.  There was no scanning after that ... I took a flashlight and make a search of the house like I was looking for gold treasure, moving every piece of furniture.  I've no clue how they can get in.  Hopefully most of the outside variety were recently drowned!!  Not sorry!

Today Mr. Chance and I are taking a trip downtown to the rock salesman to see how long it will take to get a load delivered for my driveway.  I rather imagine they will be busy for the next few weeks.  I finally got up the nerve to replace the second bathroom water valve, but alas, it's the wrong one.  

Add to that four outlets that aren't working, which may mean a crawl under the house to check wiring (according to the electrician I called that says he doesn't do that any more).  Ugh ... I do NOT look forward to that!!  I hope and pray replacing the GFI outlet will fix my problem.

In the meantime, I'm still scanning like a metal detector!!

Monday, July 26, 2021

The Flooding Continues

I really did want to get out of the house.  I had plans.  In the end however, my brains kicked in and decided there was just too much water everywhere, even for a 4-wheel drive truck, and I better just park myself at home.   

I couldn't help it though, the lure of rushing water is a magnetic draw.  I did make a quick trip down to the dry river bed.  It's never had a drop of water since I've been around Arizona.  Apparently, THIS is why it's here.  The rushing river sound hit's my patio like in the old days when we lived close to the Kern River. 

Uh huh ... that's a lot of really dirty water rushing down the dry riverbed.  Most of it is out of sight just under those green bushes.   I had climbed up a hill on the side of the road and was perched over the edge.  Going further was not an option.  And just look at all the green.  The desert cleans up nicely in her monsoon colors.    

It rained for almost ten hours straight.  We seem to have been in the center of a hurricane like storm that just kept circling over us hour after hour.  I do think about all the critters that live in the river bed.  Hopefully they had plenty of time to escape, except for the scorpions.  

Life goes on however and this turkey vulture kept flying around all morning looking for lunch.  As I drove back home, he landed on this wire and was trying to dry his wings.  This stance didn't help much because it was raining the entire time.

In case you've never seen one up close ... a face only a mother could love.  Look at those claws.

I got home in time to see MY river running across the driveway.  The tarps held up and there wasn't too much more damage.  It's all fixable, just a little work.

That's when I found the flooding out FRONT of the house.  Something will definitely have to be done here, but I have no idea what.   Possibly a concrete gutter running the length of the patio cover.

For the time being, I just dug a little ditch to drain it off.  In no time, it was gone.  The soil here is pretty porous and puddles don't last long at all.

All this rain hasn't bothered the hummers one little bit.  They continued to fly all day long for sustenance.  There weren't even the normal fights over whose feeder it was.

This is one last look across to the Santa Catalina mountain range where I could see six waterfalls coming down the mountainside.  It's amazing to see this since it's so very far away.  That's a lot of water.

The weather guessers (who are actually pretty correct around here) say there are chances of storms every day this week, and another gully washer coming in next Monday.  At the first sign of sun, I'll be off to pastures of fabric.

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!!!