Category Archives: Hiking

Navigating blocks & Desert Gardening

Okay! Well, this is a turn. WordPress went and changed on me. Has it really been that long since I posted? I am faced with a screen (literally) telling me they welcome me to the ‘wonderful world of blocks!’ WTF? Alright, I’ll bite. We’ll try this. (I didn’t read the directions – and evidently, ‘see next tip’ might be part of a direction. I have not clicked on it.) I’ll pout for about a minute, then click it.

Evidently the tip was ‘Add title’. Wasn’t it just easier before when I had that at the top?

This whole blog is going a different direction. LOL!

Want to share my past week with y’all, as we never say in rural desert land.

Damn. There are more plus signs on this version than any of my school tests. I’m giggling. This thing is writing itself.

Okay, pressed enter and we seem safe enough to begin what I intended to write.

Oh, no. ‘start writing or type/to choose a block.

What is a block?????

Shall I try it?

Okay, so, a ‘block’ is either another paragraph, media or … a bunch of other stuff.

I truly had this down, didn’t need remedial directions. But, thanks I guess?

Let’s being shall we?

Me this morning – #nofilter (lol) Seriously though – just really good light and black and white.

That, my friends, was a block. I’m literally laughing out loud now. Sorry, I can’t get over this. When did this happen??????????????????????? Why was it needed?

I wanted to chat about my rural adventures. And, I shall.

So, last weekend, my brother-in-law was in town visiting.

Here’s us. Me, “look guys! It’s our last name!” Them: We shall look off into the distance and be majestic.

Truth be told, my long underwear was pink and I looked like a hermit crab without a shell. Have you ever seen that?? I have. My son used to have some and anytime they shed their shell, they wouldn’t make it into the plethora of ‘new choices’ and end up all crabby and shriveled and pinkish – kinda like a toe that had been in the bath too long and, yeah. Then, they died. I survived obviously, but did change this pic to black and white. Because, ew, shriveled hermit crab legs.

Let’s get back to rural living eh?

My guy went shopping and brought home some new plants.

Butters checked them out, approved and moved along.

Then came the day I lost any kind of ‘girly’ I had remaining on my hands. We gardened.

Wait! FIRST! I had cleaned the kitchen and cleaned. Let’s talk about this ‘life hack’. Fabric softener sheets on grease.

I took the oven top completely apart. Then soaked the um, thingies, in the sheets.

Worked fine for the ones that had seen less combat. But, after pouring boiling water on the other ones, still had remnants, so, I’m giving that experiment a 5 out of 10. Oh, and about the boiling, yes, I had to be creative because, after all, my stove was in fact ‘apart’.

But! Here’s a very clean oven and some quiches I made.

Plus, a Mexican lasagna.

So, I was Ms. Clean and cook. THEN the plants needed attention.

I know how to plant a tree. And, easy peel navel orange tree needed introducing into our world.

I wanted to do it – after successful trees at my other home, but, my guy is a go-getter and my non-girly hands had already suffered many blows. Go ahead.

Watering time.

Prior to all of this – you’re probably not going to be able to sleep wondering how my phalanges lost their decorative claws. So, here are the planters that were meticulously made by (not me.)

I added the flowers. I’m nothing if not a team player. (insert squinting laughing emoji here).

We also (he) planted more potatoes.

And we added to our seedlings.

I’d like to share now, after (unsuccessfully searc;hing for the spell check feature) that you can flip back and forth from ‘Block’ to ‘Document’. So – there’s a thing I learned.

In between writing this thrilling post, I bathed Butters. Which, brings me to my next set of pics.

I am trying to get her out and about more. Because I hadn’t already done enough yesterday, I decided to hike with her into what we call ‘the square’.

She did very good at ‘wait’. (Mostly when she was navigating areas like a freaking mountain goat, and I was trying not to lose my balance/teeth/in tact bones.)

Okay! Let’s go!

Very deep hoof imprints! Must have been muddy when that happened.

Always something captures my attention – this was hard to take with Butters excited about moving on.

A moment of “Wait!”. (This was before I fell on my arse because she was mountain goating.)

Another pretty spot – still don’t know how I managed this shot either. I think she was being very good at “Wait!”

Waiting.

It was only after getting home and reviewing pictures that I found this amusing and was a tad confused. I think it’s a feather? But, by happenstance, looks like – well, um, anything you can conjure up lol!

She handled it regardless.

I let her lead the way – and she was sure to mark plenty of territory. Hopefully won’t be long before she can be off leash, at least there. But, with coyotes, steer, burros and snakes – not sure I want her to have that much freedom.

She’s definitely living her ‘best life’ out here though.

Not living on a ‘block’ anymore.

(See how I tied that in? Brilliant.)

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The Grand Solar Minimum … in Arizona – and Clem.

Oh Clem. I’m still mourning him.

I originally created him with only a little mouth and two little rock eyes.

My husband insisted he at least have arms.

Here he was at his best – happy!   I mean, after all, it was his birthday!  (Snowday?)

I woke this morning with trepidation, was Clem still around???

He was, but, the weight of the snow had laden his arms, and he looked a lot less happy.

Clem had seen some shit.

I arrive home tonight and … Rest in Pieces dear Clem.

All joking aside (and, I’m really not joking about the loss of my inanimate snowman, you know me by now) is that this snowfall was bonkers.

It all started on Wednesday when snow (Blizzard) was expected.

You all know also by now that I have a fear of my drive and beating the storm was top priority for me and arriving home beforehand.

I received messages from my (should have been a meteorologist) husband, predicting (once again true) the weather.

I left work early.

Woke the next day in the dark, and peered out the window – and … WOW!  Yes!  A snow day!

Texted my bosses, who already had a heads-up.  Nope, to the nopety nope, I would not be navigating ‘the pass’.

My first photos sucked.  But, then daylight arrived and I went for a little walk.  I realize I sound like Darth Vader (it was SO very cold), but also please listen for the crunching of snow, because, that’s what I had forgotten the sound of!!!!  Fresh snow, fresh footprints – complete and utter white out!!!

I felt like a kid!

A SNOW DAY!

Butters enjoyed it too – she was frisky. (This, the dog who would not go outside in the rain a couple years ago to pee.  (Thank Gawd that’s changed.)

So it was on!  Bring it!

Hubby was home, fire was stoked and Butters happy.

Here’s some more pics of the rare day.

 

OH! SO glad I planted when I did. (Insert sarcasm here)  But, it was a beautiful day.

I say that, but honestly, after a walk and many photos – it was just very white, wet and repetitive and I couldn’t stop thinking about how behind I was at work.

I went in early today – and navigated ice and ‘previous tire tracks’ (which is a thing) and totally appreciated the beauty of our area.  The mountains were majestic – and I would love to show you them, but, I kept two hands on the wheel!

When it’s in the 120’s I’ll look back on this post and appreciate how cold my fingers were whilst scraping my car’s windshield.  I’ll appreciate putting a jacket on – and I’ll look back on this beauty in awe!

Musings from a chilly laundry day

Today, I was productive.

Yesterday I was constantly convincing myself it was okay to do NOTHING.  Be a human being, not a human doing.

I watched Russian Doll, I watched Sex Education (both amazing).  I snacked and I napped.  I consider it the equivalent to plugging myself in to recharge.

What prompted this was my husband being out-of-town.

I feel guilty just ‘being’ otherwise.

That’s not on him.  It’s a psychological glitch.

I can’t even pee at work without telling myself, “Just get this one thing done, then you can go.”

So, in spite of doing nothing of import yesterday (production wise) I accomplished so very much in allowing myself to DO nothing.

This is not the topic of my post though.

I have been COLD!  It’s been freezing at night and our home doesn’t exactly remember the sunlight hours.

We have a wood burning stove and a (what seems to me) a circa 1970 hall heater.

Said heater has been groaning and moaning and whirring pathetically.  If it were a pet, I’d be doing what it trusted me to do.

However, shivering on Friday, I decided to try to ‘fix’ the heater.

I figured, it probably just needs cleaning.  I mean, I could clearly see dust abundant.

I unscrewed it – (after shaving the caulking off the edges) and to my surprise, it wasn’t independent of the grate.

Okay.

Grab something, hold it up while I work on it.

Scooted to the bathroom and didn’t want it hanging from the wires too long – first thing I came upon was a soap dispenser.

Back to my task.  Cleaned the fan – dusted the wires turned it back on and … flames.

No joke.

Flames.

After I closed it up, I tried to turn it on again thinking (in my official capacity as not only a HVAC professional but also an electrician) that it would work.

Nothing.

Didn’t even turn on.

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**TANGENT TIME**:

Was chatting with my husband while he was at the airport.

Me: I f***** something up, I guess when I was messing with the heather it blew the fuse in the bathroom

Me: Only just realized it, I tried to plug something in

Me: NVM fixed it.

Yeah – I only had to press ‘reset’.  *groan*

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I shivered the night away and spent my lazy day bundled in bed with Netflix.

 

Today I was determined but depleted.

I scavenged the land for twigs with a bucket like a babushka.  Hunched over, head covered, layers upon layers – selecting the choice sticks.

No newspapers or firestarters.

Into the ‘office’.

File folders!!!!!!!!

 

Twigs and file folders!

 

Got that started and inserted the wood that doesn’t ‘catch’ alone and …

 

This is what I’m looking at now.  SUCH a relief!

That being said, I used to think I could do Naked and Afraid.  After a weekend of freezing temps and no ability to light a fire IN A WOOD BURNING STOVE, I acquiesce.  How the hell do they manage to start a fire and keep it going in the rain????????  How do they survive nights completely naked in freezing temps?????  As I mentioned to my friends, if I WERE on naked on afraid, I would have tapped out in my own living room completely clothed that night.

But, I kept trying.  And hung in there. (Like, where am I going to go? lol)

And the fire is still roaring and I still feel rested.  Win!

 

Opportunity to be Blessed

I share this not for a pat on the back, but to point out how attitude is everything.  I have found myself slipping in that area and must be mindful – today was a reminder.

Ran out to our local Dollar General (you know, that place where nothing is a dollar) for some bits and bobs because I did not want to go into ‘town’.

I’m in line and to my right it became clear,  was a man (with three little ones) having issues at the register.

I hear, “Sorry” a few times and step in.

Me: How short are you? (Because we’ve all been there right?)

Him: Oh, it’s not that – they can’t change a hundred.

Me: I can do that for you. (Because for one day I could after receiving a recompense.)

Him: Thank you so much!

I return to placing my items on the counter and hear him talking to his checkout person.

Them: Sorry about that.

Him: No worries, I had an opportunity to be blessed.  Everything happens for a reason.

Wow.  An opportunity to be blessed.  I’m so stubborn, I don’t allow such opportunities.  I DO count my blessings.  But, to hear it put that way – just – wow.

He had three very patient, well-behaved kidlets who now didn’t have to be dragged to one of our rural gas stations to get change then return to the shop for their suspended sale.

He wasn’t inconvenienced.  He was calm and kind and ushered his little herd out the door with a “Thank you again.”

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Now I’ll share a little about the drive to the shop.

I’ve alluded to how rural we are – and how dangerous the highway that splits our town in two is.

Apparently a little more dangerous further you go up the hill according to this sign.  Yes, it’s real – yes, I took this pic.  (I was a passenger at the time, let’s not dilute my ongoing rant with ‘But you took a pic while driving).

Back to the route at hand,

I mean, you have to be on point!  Guessing what the ‘non-locals’ may potentially do.  (Unfortunately, locals too.)

There are OH so many crosses up and down the road, the pass and the grade,  I’ve memorized most of them.  You’d think that would serve as foreshadowing to the drivers that I encounter, sadly they don’t.

So, ‘heading out to the shop’ is not as simple as it might be elsewhere.

If you so much as see a rabbit running across the road in front of you – there must be a thought process.

  1. Is it running FROM something?  Should I expect to break for a coyote?
  2. Is there a car behind me?  (Okay, that should be number 1 probably)
  3. Can I brake in time to avoid a collision, or do I need a plan b and where may I swerve safely?

We literally have signs.

BIG highway signs lit up asking the driver to take: CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION! Watch for animals!

Smaller signs:

 

That’s just when encountering a critter.

Then comes the actual road – and bonkers traffic.  Timing is everything.

I’ve learned to turn off my ‘give a fuck’ about people behind me at a stop sign.  I am NOT going until I am certain I can safely navigate the turn onto the highway.

I’ve been honked at once, and wanted to bolt out of the car and remind them about the crosses.  Go ahead, go around me – take your chances, and chances are when you’re hit, I’ll still stop and help you.  But, let’s avoid all of that and just chill the heck out!

Back to the animals, says the Queen of Tangents.

I seriously need glasses.

On the way to work Friday I saw someone switch to the left lane for no apparent reason ahead of me.

I squint and think to myself, “Is that a person?”  (On the side of the road, not the lane switcher LOL).

Now, I’ve known for a while I need glasses.  But when you have a laundry list of things you need, somethings that are important start sliding down that list.

I squint harder … “Is that a bush?”

I squint harder, now practically on TOP of the ‘thing’ – “Oh … a cow.”

A large, uninterested, grass filled mouthed cow.  In the ‘bicycle’ lane (I don’t know what it’s technically called out here) of our very dangerous highway.

I would love to tell you there was a great amount of distance between my first guess and my realization, but there was not.

Obviously doesn’t help my commute that I can’t SEE – so I may have to bump that up the list.

But, what I did see today – gratitude and calmness – was enough to open my eyes and return me to a mindset of the same.

Maybe that needs to be on a sign too.  Although, some would probably pay as much attention to it as they do the others.

I’ll just keep my eyes on my own paper and try to practice it myself.

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Homestead Shoot

There are days I wish we lived closer to ‘town’ – but mostly, I’m so grateful for our privacy, land and peaceful hearts.

I see beauty in everything.  I look for good everywhere.  Even the most simple of things stun me and fill my heart with appreciation.

Without further ado, (okay, a little more ‘ado’ because this meme cracks me up whenever I see it).

I present to you the scenes and views that captured my eyes and heart today.

The monarch I fished out a pool of water drying off for it’s flight.

The shadows from this aloe reminded me of Wilson’s hair from Castaway.

Because we all need some backbone no?

Sun

Butters making sure her shadow doesn’t escape. She’s no Pei-Pan. Keep a foot on it!

Our vegetable garden (which consists only of onions currently) with the bamboo fencing splaying it’s shadows across the dirt.

Aforementioned bamboo with our namesake sign

Listening to the real homesteader chopping wood

Only caged bird on the property – cage door is open though. Even faux birds deserve a chance to be free

Old outdoor sink and plenty of wood

Our gorgeous Palo Verdes and Mesquite trees

The newly finished culvert and rock work

The sun outshining my inner culvert shot

More rock work and view to other side of culvert

Wild desert ‘creek’

Shadow play – and future site of a bridge

Beautiful steps

The wood eater

 

Bottom line is that there is not a direction I can turn without feeling awe and gratitude.