Category Archives: desert

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.

 

 

Moved! Steep Grades and a Special Neighbor.

Well, it’s been a week since I’ve moved into my new home!

Yes, I had that exhale moment.

Still have a lot to do – but for all intents and purposes, we’re moved!!!

I’ve been adjusting to the longer commute, that just happens to be on a road they literally test vehicles on.  No kidding – Ford brings their trucks covered in sensors and hauling tons of weight and drive up and down the grade.  (Here’s an old article about this HERE.)

On the side of the road there are jugs of water that good Samaritans have left for struggling vehicles of the non-test type.

Regular commuters know that the air conditioning needs to be off for the majority of the trip, which, in triple digits can be quite taxing.  And when I say taxing, I mean, sheets of sweat, wet undergarments and complete loss of electrolytes.

Once that hill has been taken though, it’s worth the while.

Let’s get onto introducing you to one of my neighbors.

I say neighbor, but, it’s more like … um … a land mate?  Pet?

I’ll begin with our introduction.

I was sitting on the porch, enjoying a light breeze in the early evening.  Rose bushes were rustling, pine trees pining.  I had a hose running to water the length of the thirsty trees and looked over to check on the progress.

To my surprise, atop the picnic table was  – well … take a look yourself.

I slowly got up and put my dog inside the house.  I then calmly stated, “Um, honey?  There’s a snake on the table.”

Now, I have been aware in my 15 years in the desert that the territory comes with desert creatures.  I’ve had my run ins with an assortment of them.  But, not a snake.

I’m actually quite fond of them.  Had wanted one years ago.

But, considering our location, not all snakes want to be your friend.

My honey came out and we watched from a distance to make sure there was no rattle.  Then, got a little closer to assess the head shape.

He went in as my fascination grew.

Snake (I’ve since named Yogi – because, c’mon, pic-i-nic table!) came closer.  I grew braver.

And, closer still, into the rose bushes.

I followed Yogi around for a while, until it moved off into another lot.

 

I reached out and posted photos to a snake site.  I was informed it is a non-venomous gopher snake, good to have around!  I was also taught that if I needed it to scoot, I could spray it lightly with a hose.

I fretted a little about it interacting with my pup.  I certainly don’t want to have my time outside or hers dictated by our new friend.   Still haven’t quite worked that out yet.  (Any advice is welcome!)

Following night, we were outside when my guy announced, “Your friend is back.”  Sure enough.

 

 

This is such a low-key snake.  I mean, you can literally walk next to it.

But, the issue of the dog.  So, with Butters inside, I decided to try the spritz method.  It worked.  Yogi went back under the fence and curled up and cut its eyes at me.  Had a look of complete inconvenience and indignation.  To add insult to moisture, two sparrows alighted upon the fence and looked down upon Yogi.  I entrusted them to keep watch.

 

SO!  What to do, what to do?!  I’m an animal lover so definitely harming one is out.  Relocating it would be useless as it’s bound to be replaced by another – I mean, we have nothing but desert next to us and own 2.15 acres of it ourselves.

Must find a way to cohabitate.

I guess I’ll have plenty of time to consider just how to do that during my commute.