Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy 2007

I've been sadly absent from posting here this past month. So I resolved that I will do better in 2007. There is so much to comment on, to laugh at, to communicate. May all your wishes for the New Year come true.

Friday, December 08, 2006

1 of 20 Questions

Recently I participated in a postcrossing game called 20 Questions. I sent a list of questions to a gal in the Netherlands and I answered questions sent to me by a gal in Norway. One of the Norwegian questions I think deserves some expansion.

What do you think the world will be like in 200 years?

The short answer I gave was that people will be more educated about each other's culture because we'll be more crowded. Except for the people on the moon.

NASA reports that they are planning on a base at the south pole of the moon by 2020. And this is only 14 years from now.

If we look back to 1806, we might get a perspective on 2206. Lewis and Clark had just finished their exploration of the future western United States. There were colonies all over the world, governed by European powers. Australia was just a penal colony. Asia was only of interest to Asians who did not reach out to the rest of the world.

Events are excellerating today crazy fast (as is the current fad to say.) Look at how the Internet grows on a monthly basis. One can find information on any subject that pops into your head, within seconds. The societies that keep their people in the dark about computers will be washed over and trampled by the technically elite. With such vast stores of knowledge readily available, people will be more enlightened. Cooperation will increase as we begin to look at people in other countries as people just like us, and not foreigners. Human misery such as Darfur will be impossible to sustain as we will all be effected faster.

It would be nice to be in a time capsule and awaken in 2206 to see what has happened. I believe it will be a better, although as I said, more crowded world.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Signs of the Season

Finally winter has shown its face on the Double Barrel Ranch. By this I mean we went below the freezing mark overnight and so we have lit the woodburning stove.

Another sure sign is that I dragged out the Christmas card list and a few decorations. I think Christmas is a good thing, even if there were no baby in Bethlehem. Society needs a season for giving and in the Northern hemisphere, a season to string extra lights to bring sparkle to the darkest days of the year. Heaven knows the retail markets need a centerpiece to ensure they make a profit. And the non-profits need our meditation on our good fortune to spring cash from our pockets for their worthy causes. Not to mention the tax advantages if one is so well situated that one is worthy to deduct charitable giving.

But I digress. Christmas is the season of joy and the measure of that expands and contracts over the days leading up to the holiday: joy at seeing loved ones, sending & receiving gifts and cards, admiring lights and decorations; then there is the un-joy of long lines, trying to get the right gift before they are sold out, spending too much, and a long list of social niceties that you'd rather skip but are obligated to follow. Everyone should have to do things they find less than enjoyable. It is for the common good.

I imagine God up in heaven with a large abacus. He slides a few counters to the good when we have the Christmas spirit, and subtracts a few counters when we moan and grouse. And we get a whole row slid to the good when we acknowledge the baby in the manger.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Meditate On This

Millions of Americans say they practice meditation. Presumably these people have learned new techniques to avoid the emotional storms that others are battered with and that leave them in deep unhappiness. Modern mental health providers have provided treatment by various methods (talk therapy, psychoactive drugs, etc.) but not much has been done to get to the root of what is bugging America.

It is us.

We are suffering from a sensory overload. Distraction is everywhere: TV & radio, video games, cell phones, portable DVD players, MP3 players, computers, the internet, and on and on. No wonder people are breaking down left and right. The book "Future Shock" was right. Obviously we cannot regress to a more simple life. We battle negativity, pessimism, gloom and doom. These feelings flog us. However those who look at these emotions with less "emotion" believe that these are not facts, they are just thoughts. One can let go of thoughts and think of other (more constructive) thoughts. Meditation is a means to stabilize the mind. Some people have made this work for over 2,500 years. (Buddhists) Maybe it could be helpful for more Americans in 2006. It's something to think about.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Equestrian heaven, Ft. Robinson, Nebraska

Rider "P.W." from Wyoming, on the trail near Ft. Robinson, Nebraska.

Ft. Robinson from the bluffs

Ft. Robinson from the bluffs
Originally uploaded by edification.
Bird's eye view of Soldier Creek Valley and Ft. Robinson.

Ft. Robinson, Nebraska

Ft. Robinson, Nebraska
Originally uploaded by edification.
Living Quarters of former military post is now used to house tourists. Spare, but unique, fitting.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Sand Hills

On September 25 I crossed the heart of Nebraska on State Route 2. This is a highway of full service gas stations and more cattle than people. Plowed fields gave way and I saw I was in a remarkable grassland. The mixed grass prairie of the Sand Hills cover a full quarter of the state. The dunes were formed around 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age when the loose sand blew off the newly exposed Rocky Mountains. The lonely green hills undulated on for mile after mile with only a rare ranch house huddled in a narrow basin along with a couple struggling cottonwood trees.

Running parallel to Route 2 for quite some time was a rail line. Long trains of dozens of coal cars from Wyoming passed by. Wyoming is the #1 coal producing state in America. And half the electricity in the US is generated by coal-fired power plants. I think I saw all the coal needed by a small city for a year in all the coal I saw rolling by, in just one afternoon on a sunny early autumn day.

And the treeless sand hills kept rolling by too. Once the home to bison, now producing beef for a hungry nation. Seemingly untouched. A bare land. But not barren.

Horse Philosopher

horse philosopher
Originally uploaded by edification.
How I feel today.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Equine Affairs

This morning I found one of the worst nightmares of any horseman. My sweet gelding "Jack" had a case of colic. This is a serious disorder in horses, not just a belly ache of inconsequence. It can be anything from a mild gas colic to sand impaction to a twisted gut. In 1989 I had my best buddy, a great strong buckskin Quarter Horse, die from colic. Jack has never had colic before. He is 20 years old, but this is not really old for an Arabian. It isn't his "time" yet. Right now he seems improved but I'll be watching him like a hawk for a couple days.

During the last days of my trip I stopped in Wyoming to visit a new friend who raises Arabians and Saddlebred horses. I thought I was interested in one of her grey Arabs. (Like Jack's color; I love greys!). Instead a big handsome palomino Saddlebred caught my eye. I've never ridden a Saddlebred before and know little about the breed. But I know a good horse when I see one. (At least that is my opinion.) And "Ed" is a good looker for sure. The only drawback is he is 1,111 miles north of me. Plus my husband would commit homicide if I didn't sell my Thoroughbred gelding before adding another mouth to feed to my herd. But that is an acceptable risk. I'm interested in bigger horses so I can find a saddle that fits both me and the horse. Right now I have a saddle that fits my small Arabian horses, but not me. And I have a big Australian Stock saddle that fits me, but not my small Arabians. Conundrum. Horses are great fun, but sometimes complicated.

During my trip I rode at Fort Robinson State Park in northwestern Nebraska, just south of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The countryside was open, with hills, scenic views, wildlife such as Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep, and tame critters like Longhorn Cattle. I rode a borrowed grey Arabian horse named "Buddy", on a borrowed saddle, with a borrowed bridle. Everything worked well on the horse, but do you think I could get the hang of putting on his bridle? It had more parts than my Toyota. I was all thumbs. Okay, I looked like an idiot putting on his bridle and finding the bit hanging under his chin. Oops, that was supposed to go into his mouth. Let's try again. Occassionally the horse's owner got impatient with me and bridled him herself. After another dozen tries I would have had it figured out. Yes, sometimes horses are complicated.

One of my grandchildren has become less enthused about our shared horse, the big Thoroughbred I mentioned above. He is tall. 16 hands. That is about 5 foot 4 inches high at the beginning of his back. She is 5 foot 3 inches tall. He doesn't pay attention to where he puts his feet. Her foot has been under his hoof a couple times. And it is a long, long trip down his side when dismounting him. I love his height, although he eats as much as two of my Arabs. But with everyone losing interest in him, I guess it is time he finds a new home. I've never sold a horse in my life. And it is complicated. There are 3 owners involved. I hate the "business end" of horse ownership. I just want horses to be happy, healthy friends for life. Unfortunately hay costs money and like most folks, money is finite. Selling a horse is upsetting, but at least it is not a nightmare.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Trip Distilled

From September 17, 2006 to October 15, 2006 I drove 3900 miles and rode along in a truck hauling two horses another 1800 miles. I do believe my need for feeling asphalt under my butt is satiated for some time.

Travelling is great fun. Something new is always around the bend or over the hill. I saw wild turkeys, pronghorn antelope, cattle, and deer in abundance. Corn and soybeans were being harvested. Hay was drying in the fields.

I spent 22 hours on horseback in 3 different states.

Friends became better friends. New friends were made.

I paid for gasoline and paid and paid and paid. (Biggest expense.)

I felt good. My digital camera shutter snapped 301 times, the last time for a rainbow over the Apache Indian land near me. It is good to be home too.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Have Hooves, Will Travel

Occam is going on another adventure and will be without internet access for 4 weeks. UGH! Will Occam survive? If so, there will be new stories to tell. I expect to travel only 4000 miles this time. But some of those miles will be with a friend and her two Arabian horses. I love to travel with horses. Since you are taking them out of their natural environment, you must become their slave in order to see to their comfort and health. When you stop and before you go, the last thing one does is check the horses.

I will be camping in the northern US and it will not be summer. If things go as they have in the past, that means I'll see snow. Hopefully not. I prefer to see only the autumn foliage coloring the landscape. But I'm not a wimp. It won't be the first time I've had to scrape frost off my whiskers in the morning. (I don't have whiskers. That was just a poetic expression.)

So please check back about the middle of October and see what news is coming from the ranch. See ya round the bend...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Orson Welles

I've been to the movie theatre twice in the past 20 years. I saw "A Beautiful Mind" and "Passion of the Christ". With all due respect to Christ, the beautiful mind was better. Modern movies are in a terrible slump. Tonight I watched "Citizen Kane" which was made in 1940 when Orson Welles was 25 years old. He directed, wrote and starred in the film. It is absolutely riveting. Cameras don't film like that today. In 2006 there are no young people born in 1982 with a smidgen of the talent Welles demonstrates in "Citizen Kane". Today there are some actors who are producing movies that they are acting in, but they are established talents, not fresh faces. Movie-making is out of the reach of new filmmakers which probably explains the popularity of "You Tube" and other internet video outlets. Maybe this new medium will cultivate an Orson Welles of the 21st Century. I hope so. I am pretty tired of the fantasy & urban violence crap that Hollywood has been re-making over and over.

Orson Welles 1915-1985.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

At a Loss

Five days ago a life was tragically lost halfway around the world. I'd never met the man. I've never even been to his country, Australia. But I, like millions of his fans, mourn his death. Steve Irwin, better known on TV as The Crocodile Hunter, was a conservationist in your face. His exuberant voice and athletic adventures with crocodiles and numerous other species of animals drew young and old alike into knowledge and familiarity. We started to care about the animals. Even old grumpy crocs. There will never be another like Steve. And we aren't shedding crocodile tears.

Friday, September 08, 2006

September 26th

All my life I have lamented the dearth of people also born on my birthday. I've never met a person who shares the same date with me. But thanks to the wonders of the Internet I have found some birthday twins:
  • 1888 t.s.eliot -American writer
  • 1889 Martin Heidegger -German philosopher (where I get my angst from?)
  • 1981 Serena Williams -Tennis player.

The list of famous people who have died on my birthday also is singular:

  • 1820 Daniel Boone -Frontiersman
  • 1763 John Byron -English Poet
  • 1952 George Santayana -Writer and Philosopher.

The list seems heavily weighted to writers and philosophers. Since I fancy myself a bit of an amateur writer and an even more amateurish philosopher, maybe there is something to this "birthdate as an influence" over one's life. The planets were aligned in such and such a manner. Ooops! Pluto is no longer a planet, have to re-write everyone's astrological predictions. Well, seriously I haven't any angst over astronomy. It's all fanciful.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Melting Pot

On occasion I have made statements in this blog about politics. No matter who you are and no matter how vehemently you deny that politics interest you, the management of public affairs concerns us all.

I recently patted myself on the back for being more "green" than Al Gore. I believe government does some things better than private enterprise. Aha! Occam is a Democrat you might guess.

I also think that the lure of making money inspires people to start businesses and work hard to make a legacy they can pass on to their heirs. And government has no business in taxing the results of that hard work a second time. I watch people depend upon government to save them from Hurricane Katrina and it doesn't work. People need to take more responsibility for their own well being. Aha! Occam is a Republican you deduce.

Sadly for the observer, my ideology is unreliably liberal and unreliably conservative. I have principles, they are just more colorful than staid. Oscar Wilde said: "Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Addicted to Paper

The mailman brought me a most extraordinary jackpot today: a letter from New Mexico, and postcards from Ohio, Finland, Hungary, Brasil and Australia. The stamps on this mail were wonderful too. A koala from Australia for instance. Just pure joy to this philatelist.

I also won a couple eBay auctions of stamps. Inexpensive lots. I think I was the only bidder. I like auctions like that.

In the meantime I have discovered "embossing". This is done with a brass stencil and a pen-like tool with a knob on the end. You simply tap the outline out and voila, your paper is embossed. Looks classy. I am inspired to make a homemade card now instead of paying money to Hallmark. When you care enought to send the very best, make it homemade!

Can you see a theme coming into focus here? Paper. Whether it is a letter, a postcard, a stamp, embossed cardstock... I also do scrapbooking, and rubberstamping, and stencils, and, well, I collect books, magazines, photographs, etc. Paper. Paper is king.

The internet is paper in electronic form. And it is easily transferred to paper by hitting using the Print command. I use this non-paper tool to expand my appetite for paper.

In the end, it can all be burned to provide warmth or as a cooking fire, so all is not lost.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Oh my interest in Meteorology! I love to watch the weatherman and see the weak limb they will crawl out on to give us a long range forecast. Scientifically, there is no way to predict the weather beyond four days in the future. Even then the accuracy is not that great. It is not even perfect quite closer in time. How many times can you remember being told it would be a certain temperature that day, say 75 degrees F, and late that afternoon your thermometer read 87 degrees? How could that forecast have been so wrong? Actually the question we should be asking more often is how was that forecast so close to being right? The atmosphere is a classic chaotic system. Being accurate is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Recently there has been great disorder in the weather of Arizona. Tremendous amounts of rain have fallen. Some areas have received more rain than has ever been recorded for August. Where 6 weeks ago was a whithering drought, is now a lush landscape. And the long range forecast for August 6 weeks ago? Normal rainfall, no relief from the drought.

Thunderstorms swirl around me today. I managed to get laundry out and dry on the clothesline before any rain fell. It hasn't yet rained today. No clever scientist, no churning computer can tell me, for sure, if it will rain. It is all chaos.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Watching Aachen

I am an insignificant landholder with a few horses who lives far from the spotlight of world equestrian sports. But I can still follow it, and so I report that the World Equestrian Games (WEG) are underway in Aachen, Germany. Today was the endurance ride which covered 160 KM, or about 99 miles. The loops of the ride took each horse and rider through Germany, Belguim, the Netherlands, then finally to the stadium in Aachen where the victory went to a Spaniard who rode his 8 year old grey Arabian gelding, "Hungares" into history. The American team had a disappointing 10th place finish among the national teams. The USA used to dominate endurance riding. I think it is more that the rest of the world is getting better, rather than the Americans are slipping.

I had a dream of being an endurance rider. My first obstacle was that I owned a very heavy American Quarter Horse. I took him on a 25 mile distance ride but he went lame at the finish. Next I used an Arabian stallion, but he found the atmosphere of so many mares around so distracting, that he was held back by the Veterinary committee, the time spent standing around sniffing mares counting in his final time total. So that didn't pan out for me. And here I am today. Now my obstacle is a proper saddle.

My origins are thoroughly urban. There wasn't a horse for miles from my home. But that didn't stop my growing love for them. At age 26 I purchased my first horse, the previously mentioned Quarter Horse. He taught me a lot. Believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man." This goes for women too, who today outnumber men as horse owners in the US.

The horses are galloping, jumping, and strutting their stuff in Aachen. And I'm watching.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Entomological Adventures

I am not really interested in Entomology. Except when bugs intersect my life. It is not true, despite the urban myth circulating on the internet, that there are roach eggs in the glue on your envelopes.

It is not true that scorpions can swim up drains and that is why they appear in your sink or bathtub. I am not fan of scorpions. Been stung a couple times and it is like fire. But they don't swim. They simply enter your house by walking in and migrate to whatever moist place is nearby. Poisons are not very effective on scorpions. But luckily they are not good at climbing out of bathtubs and sinks. They keep sliding back as they try to escape, just before I sever their disgusting segmented body into disjoined pieces. Ick.

Yesterday I had an unfortunate introduction to fire ants. These small critters are not native to my area but are becoming more common. Our recent mild winter may have encouraged them to locate here. They are endemic to the southeastern US and Texas. Well, anyway, there I was, ignorantly putting my left hand into a nest of them and suddenly I was being swarmed. They bite and then sting and the sting is, well, it is like fire! I brushed them off as fast as I could but still suffered the normal localized reaction: swelling, burning, intense itching. I had my hand & arm on ice for 3 hours trying to calm the reaction to their venom. Today I have a few small pustules and residule itchiness. I would like to invite these immigrants to return to Texas forthwith.

My years in the desert have been happily with few incidents of the entomological kind. Mosquitoes for instance are quite rare on the ranch. There are no blackflies, no gnats. My dogs have never had a tick. My horses do attract flies however; but they prefer equine blood to human.

That brings me to my last entomology story. Names are omitted to protect the innocent. Recently I was invited to a picnic. I arrived late as I'd been out of town. Everyone had eaten and the leftover food was being attacked by flies. As it was getting on to be evening the decision was made to move indoors. A comment was made that this was a good plan because then the flies would head for the ceiling and could be vacuumed up. This was news to me. Now I'm not a snob. I understand that some folks have trouble keeping flies out of their house. But they go up to roost on the ceilings at night? In fact I witnessed this phenomenom after we moved indoors. But as this was being discussed a young lady asked me what the flies did in my house. I said I didn't have flies in my house. Why not? she inquired. I said I have screens on my windows and I close the door to my house. Finally a guy clarified it for her when he stated for all assembled to hear: she doesn't know about the flies because she's not a REDNECK.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tourism Equestre

A pen pal in Germany sent me a newspaper article about the horse rendevous in France that took place last month. Called "Equirando 2006 -Alsace-Saverne" it attracted 882 horses, donkeys and mules from all over Europe. People actually rode to the event, or drove in carts or carriages. And for 3 days the host region wined and dined and educated and promoted horse activities. The most interesting event I think must have been the Grand Procession of all the horses through the town. An event such as this could only happen in Europe. What fun this must be! Now this has become one of the 43 things I must do before I die. Of course I will have to borrow a horse or just be a spectator. I am such a romantic about horses; sentimental about the noble steed. Even while mucking horse manure.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Al Gore has a new movie called "An Inconvenient Truth" where he is rallying the planet to personal sacrifice to save us from ecological disaster. Some of the ways one can live "green" is to *switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, *use a clothesline, and *use renewable energy. I have been doing all these things for years. I have solar panels on my roof that provide electricity to half of my house. I do not own a clothes dryer, I use a clothesline. And I only buy fluorescent light bulbs. Also I have a 960 square foot house, very compact. Good enough for two people. Meanwhile, the champion of "Green", Mr. Gore, lives in a 10,000 square foot home with 20 rooms, and 8 bathrooms in Nashville, Tennessee. Do you think his wife Tipper hangs his clothes on a clothesline in his exclusive neighborhood? Do you think has solar panels on his very nice roof? Is it green to have 20 rooms for two people? Also, he owns a 4,000 square foot house in Arlington, Virginia. I don't think they allow clotheslines in Arlington. It is a rather ritzy town.

Practice what you preach Mr. Gore. Because the way you live is an inconvenient truth.

Friday, August 04, 2006


You might start to suspect that this blog is going to the birds, now that I am going to review the movie "March of the Penguins". And my last post was about bears. I can't help it. I am a sucker for animals.

Penguins are not something that I've thought about much in my life. After all, they live far, far away from Arizona, that is for sure. When you watch this movie though, you can develop a kinship based on shared strivings. A keyword in the movie was "resist". The penguins must resist the cold, the storms, predators. Hereabouts the Double Barrel Ranch, the animals must resist the heat, the drought, predators.

Penguin chicks are very cute and it is worth seeing the movie just to see and hear them cheep. Most of us will never get to see Antarctica except through film. But somehow these Frenchmen have made us see the Antarctic through the eyes of an Emperor Penguin. And we are glad to be their subjects.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Bears are a wonderful critter to have running through your local forest. I am very pro-bear. When allowed by law, I am pro-hunting bear. Hunting keeps animals wary of people and is good for the long-term survival of the species.

I love my teddy bear.

I viewed a film about a bear expert, eco-warrior and con-artist Timothy Treadwell. Called Grizzly Man, it chronicled his life with the massive Brown Bears of Alaska. Much of the movie footage was shot by Timothy himself. He was no doubt an expert in bear behavior, to a point. The last point being that a bear attacked and ate him and his girlfriend in October 2003. At various times he believed he'd never be attacked, as well as he couldn't think of a better place to die than in this beautiful National Park on a peninsula off the south coast of Alaska. The tragedy is not that he died doing what he loved, but that it happened the day he and his girlfriend were to leave for the season, and she had no plans of returning because the bears scared her. Treadwell crossed the line with the bears, anthropomorphizing them, naming them, touching them. The native people there have always maintained respect for the bear as a bear. But the Grizzly Man felt he had a kinship with them. We are human beings, most of us reading this, and as much as we love animals, they are not just furry people. I understand the need many people have to protect animals. Humans don't have a very good record of taking care of wildlife over the centuries. But they need to stay wild, and out of human dwellings, garbage, and food caches. Timothy Treadwell had fabulous film footage of a family of foxes. They acted like pets around him. He fed them. Big no-no! Eventually he fed himself to a bear. I'm sorry we lost such a great advocate for the bear, but eventually his careless closeness with the Ursidae closed the book on his experiment.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Odds & Ends

Today I have to go the dentist. Is there anything more pitiful? I will pay a large amount of money to open my mouth and receive pain. I think only a dentist's spouse likes a dentist.

We had rain, lightening and thunder last night, just as I was trying to go to sleep. I could see the flashes of light even with my eyes closed. Yes, we need the rain. But could it rain a little quieter, please?

People in the Netherlands and Germany have received my postcards, so I guess postcrossing really works! The "airmail" is really slow though. I must be patient!

Read about a stable that had 24 horses die suddenly. Their feed was poisoned by accident. I can't imagine the sorrow there. First of all, they had to get rid of the dead bodies. You can't leave a 1200 pound corpse laying around for too long in the Texas summer sun. It makes for fast good-byes and "see you in heaven". The dead included a breeding stallion, mares, foals, and riding horses that were boarded there. I hope they had insurance or it will be a worse disaster for them. They were trying to kill bugs (weevils) in the horse's grain and the poison contaminated the feed. Sad, sad, sad.

I do not feed grain to my horses in summer, but in winter only. Even then there can sometimes be bugs in the grain. Mankind is always struggling against the bugs. Flies and food, mosquitoes and bare arms, crickets in the house and their singing driving you crazy. I won't even mention cockroaches. Bug splatter on your car windshield, hard to wash off. Ants in a line crawling to a sweet spot in your kitchen. Insects will inherit the earth.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New Worlds

I watched a movie last night that I really liked. Called "The New World" it recounts the story of the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith, etc. I believe the majority of the "Indians" in the film actually were Native Americans, from many different tribes. Even the young lady who played "Pocohontas". Something to ponder: one of the Indian actors said at first he thought the title of the movie was impudent, after all, his ancestors were here for centuries. America wasn't a "new" world to them. Then he started to see there was more than one layer here. The clash of cultures was a new world for everyone involved. Something else: after a short time, the native people realised the English were not going away and they sued for peace. Today there are descendents of both English and Indian people still living in Virginia. If they had not made peace, there would only be English.

In Israel today it is a new world for those who lived there prior to 1947. Without peace, both natives and newcomers will suffer and decline. And the Israelis are not going back to where they came from.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mineral King, California

Mineral King, California
Originally uploaded by edification.
Here is a cool, peaceful scene to contemplate on these hot summer days. Can't you just feel the cold air flowing down from those peaks? More peace, less war.

Accepting Reality

It has been, what, two weeks since Israel and Lebanon have been going at it? This is no six day war. I had hoped that Lebanon would continue to grow and return to being the jewel of a country it was once before. But it was not strong enough to keep out the Hezbollah.

It would be like in the US letting a population of people, not necessarily Americans, who are vehemently opposed to Mexican people, take over the border patrol and looking the other way if they sent a few explosives over the Rio Grande. What could the world expect? Yes, there are a lot of civilian casualities. Name me a war that had none. But if you are going to let terrorists operate out of your neighborhood, you have to expect fireworks. Actually my example is not very good. Israel was not sending immigrants over into Lebanon illegally. All they want is security in Northern Israel. They just want to stay in Israel without having terrorists just over yonder. But the fanatic's mind cannot handle still the presence of Israel even after all these generations.

I hate to be so obvious, but Israel is for real and they are staying. I can just hear the Native American wise man saying something similar in the 1850's to his tribe as he watched the covered wagons go by. These white men are real and they aren't going away. Things must change or you will die. Unfortunately, too many young Moslem men are willing to die because their elders will not change.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Soft Approach

A horse is a prey animal and we must always keep that in mind when we work with them. Pat Parelli said at the horse seminar in Albuquerque that people who are good with dogs are often not that good with horses. Now I know why my dogs are wild things and my horses are tame. I've always had a soft approach to horses and other animals. I guess that is why my dogs can take advantage of me. Well, anyway, I learned more about how to be a better horsewoman last weekend. Plus had a great time with P, and met a new friend, B, which is always nice.

The weather in New Mexico was warm but not hot. Turns out it was one of the few states that did not have 100 degree temperatures over the weekend. It was a hot one for most of the country. Even Wisconsin had 100 degrees! Wisconsin for goodness sakes. Maybe there is something to this global warming. It is hard to tell here in the desert. It is supposed to be 100 degrees here.

I am not a person who cares for hot temperatures. What, you may ask, am I doing in the Arizona desert? Well, for 9 months out of the year it is pretty dang nice here. And even in summer, in the morning, for maybe a couple hours, it is pleasant. I would not do well in the Phoenix area where they have overnight lows of 93 degrees. That is just plain insane. But here in the mid-level desert, I can survive the days of tarantulas (summer), I just need to hold on a few more weeks...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Horse Topics

I'm going to Albuquerque, New Mexico this weekend to attend a 2 day clinic on natural horsemanship. I'll also see and stay with longtime friend, P, and her family out on her little ranch north of the city. I haven't been there in years. I hope I don't get lost in the rolling juniper hills.

I keep reading about Barbaro's plight in the newspapers. He's the colt who won the Kentucky Derby and then broke his leg in the Preakness. His recovery is still in doubt. I can't imagine why a big, strong, well-trained horse like that can break its' leg. Something mechanically must be wrong with the breed. You can understand if a mustang steps in a gopher hole in the wilds of Nevada and breaks its' leg. But these racetracks are groomed like your living room carpet. I was cantering an Arabian once and he stepped in a woodchuck hole and sent us both tumbling. But neither of us were hurt. Poor Barbaro. I wish him luck. He is already lucky as the run-of-the-mill horse would already be humanely destroyed. It'll be interesting to see if all these heroic measures (multiple surgeries) will save him in the end.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Today I signed up on a service that promises that I will get postcards from around the world. It is called "Postcrossing" and I've been assigned to send a postcard to Finland and Germany. I hope it works. I like postcards. Whenever I travel I send at least a dozen. And I frequently receive them from a traveling cousin. This postcrossing is random and has a sense of suspense about it. Will I really get a postcard back? Will they be decent, respectable people?

I love to receive personal mail and have a pocketful of penpals that I write. Many are turning to email these days though. It is faster, and cheaper. But I can't hold it in my hand when I open my mailbox out on the road. I'm not challenged to puzzle out their handwriting. What stamp is on the envelope? Is there a sticker or other art attached? Are there pictures I can savor~ instead of "save" in my cyberspace file? Is there a Friendship Book enclosed? Used stamps to add to my collection? A newspaper clipping enclosed? How is it folded? Is the paper plain or fancy? No doubt about it, real paper mail is more personal than email. So I am hoping, hoping that postcrossing really works.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Texas Ranger

Texas Ranger
Originally uploaded by edification.
Purple flowering shrub suited to desert climate. This young one is in my side yard.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Originally uploaded by edification.
People are drawn to water. Do you think I'll get any extra hits on my blog?

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Case For Heaven

I have 5 horses, 2 dogs and a house cat. Most are not what you'd call young. Some day there is going to be a lot of weeping when illness, injury, old age, or euthanasia come knocking, an unwelcome guest, over and over again until the slate is washed clean for the next generation. In earlier years I have watched my horses, dogs and cats go to the beyond. Nothing about any of this mortality thing is very nice. One of my best friends just had her precious feline friend put to sleep. My brother has a dear elderly and infirm dog of nearly 17 years of age. Death comes when expected and when it is not. That they are merely animals, or that their short lives give us "practice" for the real losses, human losses, does not hold water with me. People are made with an instinct to become attached to things. We may get over having to hold that teddy bear, but as we age there are new things to get attached to. Members of the opposite sex (or not, depending on the person I guess). Our careers. Our children. Our home. And, our animals. Along with human attachments, I think the bond we have to our animals is unusually strong. Witness the folks flooded out of their homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They wouldn't leave without Fido. And those who were forced to, they often entered a depression, not for their bricks and mortar and boards and furniture. No, they mourned the loss of those eyes looking back into theirs. A case can even be made that spouses, children, and friends can be replaced (and often are), but not another soul can replicate that animal friend that you nurtured, trained, loved. He or she that depended upon you every day - utterly. In their final hour, you know that there must be a heaven or no life is worth living.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

California mule deer

California mule deer
Originally uploaded by edification.
She didn't seem all that worried that a visitor to her home in Sequoia National Park was stepping close to her to click digital images. I'm glad she wasn't camera shy.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I used to think that monsoons only occurred in far away lands with unpronounceable names. That belief changed when I moved to Arizona. Most of the year the wind brings our weather from the Pacific. But a change takes place in late June, early July. For then the wind comes wheeling out of the east, carrying the moisture of the Gulf of Mexico over the Sonoran Desert. Every desert dweller hopes for a good monsoon, one that brings enough rain, but not torrents of it in a few short minutes. Today the Double Barrel Ranch was blessed with a good monsoon. The thirsty earth responded to each drop with a whiff of perfume. It is hard to describe smell. But the desert smells good after a rain. Not the clean smell you'd expect, but something more primitive.

If you've never experienced the Sonoran Desert monsoon, you may think I'm being poetic. In summer it is like this: day after day we see the bright sun staring straight at us, with no water vapor in the way. Day after day we see high temperature records break. Wildfires seem to overwhelm we mere mortals. Then there is a rumble in the east. Some years later, some years earlier, but eventurally comes the rain. Monsoon. A holy word.

Friday, June 30, 2006


My husband is a perfectionist when it comes to shoeing a horse. You probably can't slip a horse hair between the shoe and the hoof on his latest shoeing job. And not because it is very tight, but because the hoof and shoe were so perfectly aligned. He works very slow because of this and because of his bad back. Mostly because of his back. I don't know how farriers do it, bending like that. Husband says it is all in the technique. Well, I sure don't know what it is.

My preferred exercise on these hot summer days is swimming. I don't even break a sweat! Although I do get a cardio workout. I never used to worry about things like that. Life on the Double Barrel Ranch had a lot of work to it. I never gained an ounce. Then something changed. In the Steppenwolf song "Monster" the lyrics say: "we grew fat and got lazy". I'm thinking that middle age has something to do with it too. I've gained more than an ounce or two. When I bend to check a horse hoof, there's something in the middle, making it more difficult. It must be my technique!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Broken Trail

I've never done a movie review. Here is my first.

Robert Duvall has done an outstanding acting job in another western film that was broadcast on the AMC network. Adapted from the book of the same name, Broken Trail was aptly named and expertly filmed. The horses and scenery were breath-taking. At times the actor's words were hard to follow, sort of like real life. After all, gruff old cowboys haven't normally been to oratory school. But there were some real gems in the language. Listen close and you'll be rewarded. In the end, true to any good western movie, the bad guys lose. And you feel like your team has just won a world championship. Very satisfying entertainment.


Even though the horses can get into the shade, they spend a lot of time in the full sun. Their hides get hot to the touch. But they are tough. As long as they have plenty of water.

I, on the other hand, am not tough. I do not particularly care for summer. Not in Arizona, not anywhere else. One exception: on top of a mountain without any insect pests. The other day I climbed up to a peak at 8780 feet. I sat on top, looked out over miles of Arizona and the edge of New Mexico. The air is thin at that elevation. My pale Caucasian skin was bombarded by radiation. The desert below was baking. On my lofty perch, with a slight breeze, it was 78 degrees. I could have stayed there for hours, alone. But just as I left a troop of 8 hikers who arrived in 4 SUV's arrived to check out the view themselves. I wondered if they were some kind of hiking club. When they returned from the peak trail, they all changed their shoes before driving home. They changed their shoes! I found this terribly amusing. Our society is so specialized that you can't hike and drive in the same footwear. I also thought that they went to a lot of trouble, hiking up the trail to that spectacular view, only to glimpse it briefly and go home. They were not local folks. Local folks would have car-pooled first of all. I don't know. Maybe I am strange. As long as I have plenty of water, I will soak up that sunshine.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Rain On Me

I have 117 posts on this blog. I think I've had at least one other person read every one I've wrote. But it has been months since anyone has left a comment. Ok, so I am not the most engaging writer on Blogger. I basically write for me. But secretly I hope that others find my words meaningful or entertaining.

I put small rocks inside an empty plastic jug and shook them at my horses. Immediately they thought the world was coming to an end and trotted off with their tails over their backs. I am going to call this jug my "photo aid".

Algae took over my pool about 3 days ago and I've been fighting the green ever since. Green is my favorite color, but not for my pool water.

A fire in the next state over, New Mexico, sent smoke into our valley yesterday, seriously degrading out air quality. Winds have shifted and today it is clear.

We are all waiting for the monsoon. There is a folk story that predicts it rains on the anniversary of St. John the Baptist, which is today June 24. I think it might have something to do with Baptism being a water thing. But there is a very small chance that it might rain today. Monsoon moisture comes from the Gulf of Mexico, to our east. So when we see the clouds building over New Mexico, we become cautiously optimistic. In this devastating drought we are in, we will take any drop of water that the Rain Gods deign to send us. Even if it carries algae seeds in it!

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Trees

the trees
Originally uploaded by edification.
View in a grove of Giant Sequoias.


One of the highlights of my visit to Sequoia and King's Canyon National Park was of course, Sequoiadendron giganteum, the Giant Sequoia. Some of the trees are believed to be 3500 years old. They are not known to die of old age. They have columnlike trunks, stout branches and fibrous, reddish bark. The tallest are up to 310 feet tall, and the fattest 40 feet in diameter. They are the largest living things. At one time sequoia species were more common around the world. The Petrified Forest in Arizona consists mainly of extinct sequoia trees. A citizen who lives on private land inside the park gave me a sequoia cone with seeds in it. (It is illegal to collect any material from a national park.) I plan to try to sprout them and maybe they will find their way to an appropriate niche on a mountain nearby. Wouldn't it be marvelous if 200 years from now, someone "discovered" a Giant Sequoia grove in eastern Arizona?

The trees are thrilling to see. As big as they are, they seemed to hide amid their pine and fir neighbors. At this time of year the Pacific dogwood is in bloom in the forests. Their large white blossoms were startling in themselves, but when viewed next to the red trunk of a sequoia, they were magical.

There aren't many sequoia left in the world. These in California are the only ones in the New World. Imagine if they had a consciousness and stand witnessing the host of human encounters with them after they stood so long in obscurity. Do they know we have changed from looking at them as number of board feet, to some kind of arbor royalty? Are we puny things, unimportant in the passing of centuries? I'd like to think so, for their sake.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Old South, New America

During the long hours on the road during my vacation, I amused myself with an audiobook. On four cassettes I listened to the voice of Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the U.S., read his book: An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood. He grew up outside of Plains, Georgia on a farm with a powerful farmer father and a nurse mother. Parts of their farm were worked by sharecroppers. Many of his boyhood friends were negroes and it wasn't until he was about 11 that he realized they were not his equals. Carter explained how the segregated south operated in those years of the Depression, and leading up to WWII. It sounded like a hard, hard life, for white and black folks. (Harder for blacks.) But he has such fond feelings for the land that the Carters still live there today.

I've heard that many urban northern black Americans are returning to the south. But it is a much different south than their grandparents left. Oh, the peanuts still grow, and the rivers still give up their fish, but everyone is a sight more better off. You'd be hard pressed to find teen-age boys having to plow their Daddy's farm with mules. And machines do the cotton-picking. But most importantly, we all get soft toilet tissue from Wal-Mart now and don't have to use the pages of the Sears Catalog.

Anyone who has a romantic view of life on the farm in the olden days should listen to Carter's description of the ringworm, lice and plentiful rats that were part of everyday life then.

I was curious as to how he would explain how he could accept segregation and then be a champion of civil rights in his adult years. We all change. And I think he always felt the injustice of his having benefits his young black buddies did not.

I feel I grew up in an enlightened home as my mother often stressed the equality of all people. So I felt a natural closeness to the anti-segregationists. I voted for Jimmy Carter. I believed in the platform of the Democratic Party. (Until their platform became nothing more than opposing everything the Republicans stood for.)

Today the new "minority" (that is not a minority) that is discriminated against are the Hispanics. They are the ones out in the fruit and vegetable fields, hoping for a better life for their children. But they are also starring in music videos and on television shows. They run the gamut from mexican gang members to state governors. It is even more stupid today to have dreams of an America for only "white" Americans. The world has changed.

It is unbelievable to me that people intentionally segregated the races in the south within the memories of many people living today. I expect that the current difficulties between Latin and non-Latin Americans will soon be a bad memory too.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

S'il vous plait

I listened to the fellow tourists atop Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park. They were most definitely speaking french. Praising the view, smiling for photographs. I wondered if they were from France or Canada. I wanted to reach out to them, tell them I was happy they were here, visiting this beautiful place with me. But it has been too long. The words failed me.

Father Marceau (college french teacher) would be so disappointed. I did well in his class. We even went to Quebec City during Carnivale. I could communicate in french then. Mostly I read in french. It was so beautiful to read. The sound of the accent moved from the page to my ears and it tasted like champagne.

I don't know what keeps me from studying french today. I guess it is a lack of Fr. Marceau. Also I no longer have a regular french speaking penpal to impress. I used to try hard to write parts of my letters to L.G. in french. I felt cultured. What am I now? Uncultured? A klutz in the foreign language department? I hardly ever put a non-English word in my blog anymore. And that is one of the things I intended to do regularly.

Ah, life. It rolls off the years like the "r" rolls off the tongue in french.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

West of the Ranch

Ok, so I took a 16 day sabbatical from my blog. It isn't like a major terrorist was killed. Or the first named storm of the hurricane season arrived.

I went for a swim at sunset tonight and then watched the rich colors grow in the west. Vapor trails followed jets heading east out of Phoenix which is a world away from the Double Barrel Ranch and I like it that way. On my way home from my vacation, while doing 80 MPH on the freeway in Phoenix - it is called keeping up with traffic- a mattress flew out of the bed of a pick-up truck two lanes over and naturally came to rest right in front of me. I managed to hit it only with two wheels at a somewhat lower speed, but praised God it wasn't worse. I've never seen a mattress look so graceful as it arched through the air in my direction. My trip totalled 2068 miles and about 150 miles from home I have to confront bedroom furniture in my path.

The weather was outstanding in the Sierra Nevadas. The Giant Sequoias were stately and beautiful. Snowmelt-fed rivers were in full-throat roaring down from their lofty 10,000 to 14,000 foot origins. Campgrounds weren't overly crowded. Firewood plentiful. (But still we saw neophytes buying wood for their campfires.) The horse rental folks weren't yet open for the season, so at home here I'll ride my own horses exclusively this summer. All-in-all it was a pretty good time to visit Sequoia and King's Canyon National Park.

What I could have done without was the air pollution. It was shocking. From a haze over any distant scenic view to a full blown brown cloud hanging over the central valley of California, it was an unwelcome constant companion. I now understand the strict emission standards for California cars. The bad air is slowly poisoning the forests. Although I did not learn any time-table, I can see a sense of urgency. Plus its' current effects are not healthy. A Park Ranger told us that the day before a woman had to be evacuated from the park because of respiratory problems due to the ozone or some other air pollutant. From the park!

I went to California to enjoy the outdoors. And I did admire the wonders of the National Park, but I came away with sadness. What is more basic than the air we breathe?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Leaving in a Toyota

Another multi-state trip is about to be embarked upon. This time going WNW westnorthwest. A peculiar manifestation of geography makes close neighbors of the lowest spot in the US and the tallest mountain peaks in the lower 48. I'm not planning to visit Death Valley. But I'll be nearby. Mainly I intend to visit the Giant Sequoias in the High Sierras of California. They are higher and wetter than the mountains I'm most familiar with. I hope to catch a stirrup and have a horseback ride to report to you about later.

My own horses will be languishing here when the hottest temperatures of the season will hit. Poor guys. I'd take them with me if I had a 4 horse trailer with living quarters and a pile of money for gas. But then they don't like dogs in National Parks so I'd still have to leave some animals behind. There is just no getting around it, when you have pets or livestock, you have to sometimes leave them in other hands if you want to travel very far. Where we are going, it is only about 15 hours away, but it'll feel like we are a continent apart.

Let's hope that this is not the time that California decides to have "the Big One" and fall into the sea. I've never felt an earthquake. Who knows, I might get lucky since I'm going to be sleeping in a tent on the ground. Can't get much closer to the earth.

So prepare yourself for my California Dreamin' posts coming to a blog near you in June.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Denial is a River in Egypt

Recently I fasted for 2 days. The bible is big on fasting. I must be a real wimp. I was hungry the whole time. Toward the end of the time I didn't even want to drink anymore, I just wanted something salty, like french fries. Guess I can cross off "nun" from my list of prospective occupations. The result of not eating for 48 hours? I gained two pounds.

I had expectations of how it would feel to fast. My mind would be clearer. My body quieter. Where did I get these fanciful ideas? All I could think of was food. I wanted meat. Where was this spiritual experience? My body screamed at me. I should have been able to concentrate on the meaning of life, on my Creator, on improving my actions in this world. Instead there was nothing but steaming vegetables and the smell of grilled chicken. I will meditate on a full stomach from now on.

My advice on fasting? Only do it if you've gone on a hike and forgotten the vittles.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


When I was young, paper was expensive. Once a year, just before school started, my Mom bought me a pad of lined paper. It was meant to last the whole school year. I learned to write neatly, and only when I was sure. There would be no tearing up a sheet and re-writing something.

To say that I am paper parsimonious would be an understatement. I love paper. I've even tried making paper and burned out a food blender in the process, but it made some fascinating paper.

Now I've been introduced to scrapbooking. This is a natural progression in my worship of paper. Single sheets of premium scrapbooking paper can cost 89 cents or more. They are beautiful. Royal paper. One way to build an artistic page for a scrapbook is to tear paper. It's hard for me to rend paper. Even if it is to be artistic.

A friend who visited Egypt brought me a bookmark made of papyrus. It's pleasurable to the eye and to the touch.

I own a lot of paper, some of it is printed upon, some of it is pure, virgin. My thoughts may be ephemeral but the paper lives on after me.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Taste of the Desert

Due to the drought, there aren't as many insects pestering the horses as one would expect. Hey, one has to look for a silver lining in severe weather.

This last week I've picked and ate my homegrown cherry tomatoes. In the northeast, where I was raised, tender vegetables haven't even been planted out yet. Like my sister says, Arizona is a whole other world.

I met a two foot long rattlesnake on a dirt road. Since it has been awhile since I've seen one of the little devils, I poked at it once with a long stick. Not unexpectedly, it responded with vigorous rattling. There is something primeval about that sound. My blood ran cold even though it was warm out. I almost felt I should apologize to the snake. But I didn't stick around long enough. Diamondbacks belong in the wilderness. Not on a baseball diamond or on the receiving end of stupid human teasing.

The heat is on for summer 2006. There have been at least two days of 100 degrees already. Though in May the temperature drops precipituously at night so that by dawn the next day it is nearly 40 degrees cooler. Mornings are exquisite. The clear blue sky, a riot of birdsong, and the scent of flowering trees. Miss the day before 6 AM, miss a lot. Or I should say: priceless!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Masses of Swirling Letters

As a result of harrassing the metro paper, I am still a subscriber to a print newspaper. But something, a tradition, is lost.

Satellite TV and the internet are really taking the lead as far as communicating current events. It is a sea change.

The network TV season is coming to an end. Lots of "Finales" being broadcast. Some of them are pretty good. I am too hooked on TV drama. It entertains me when I don't want to face real drama. But I don't think anyone can face real drama hour after hour, day after day, without a break. Medical doctors for instance have an unexpected high rate of suicide, maybe because of the real drama of their professions?

Books are being turned into movies before the books even drop off the best seller list. For instance: The DaVinci Code. The premise of this book/movie is so silly. There is no accounting for the taste of the masses.

And who goes to the symphony anymore? More people know that Paul McCartney has filed for divorce today than know how to spell Beethoven or can name one musical composition that he wrote.

The last time I stared into a bowl of Alphabet Soup I realized I was seeing a metaphor of the modern world. The letters swirled around, sideways, upside down. Nobody on this earth can make sense of it all. Although I tried, by reading every word on that newsprint. But it is not there, nor on the satellite, nor in cyberspace. I am not going to try anymore. I am going to pet my horses, contemplate the cacti enduring the drought, and let the winds of change blow.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Oh Beeping Paper

Sadly, print newspapers feel the pressure from the on-line competition. Traditionally I've subscribed to a daily paper for the bulk of my news. On a lark, being tired of throwing away newspapers, I pretended to go on vacation and stopped my daily paper for two weeks. At first it was hard. I felt I was missing so much. Soon I was doing a lot more outdoors. Getting exercise early in the morning instead of reading the obits. There are news channels on TV, the internet, and lastly, the network news! So I did keep up somewhat on the current events. Finally I called to have the paper re-started the next day. So I be-bop out to my newspaper box and, it isn't there. I call. "Oh we don't have a start order for you." What on earth happened to the order I called in the day before? "Oh we had some computer problems." But I really wanted the Sunday paper. You know, the paper with all the special sections, book reviews, color comics, etc? "Oh, we can send it with your Monday paper." Fine, so I be-bop out to my newspaper box to find: only the Monday paper. I call. "Oh we didn't get that order to add the Sunday paper with your Monday issue." Tomorrow is Tuesday. This 3rd person has promised that I will get the Sunday paper then. If it is not there, I will call. I will cancel my paper. I am a customer. I will only be toyed with to a point. I can form new paths to get my news.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

No Complaint

Daylight today is one and a half minutes longer than yesterday. 45 days of increasing day length until summer arrives on the longest day. Although the weather is outstanding at the moment, we know the searing desert heat is almost here for 2006.

I am not really acclimated to Arizona's heat, but that is ok. Everyone needs to complain about the weather. It's: too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too snowy, too windy, too cloudy, too too whatever. Today there was no complaint.

Around 1912 I had an Aunt die of what our family always called "Summer Complaint". It was too early for the Pandemic of 1918. I've never heard this diagnosis made in modern times. In the past every family it seems had a child death. Just take a stroll through any old cemetery and read the baby tombstones. Offhand I can only think of two families who have lost a young child to disease. We have made progress in the last century. I was the first child in my family to get innoculated against polio. Before me, my parents had to worry over my older siblings. How many kids have you seen in Iron Lungs lately? Although it is sure our medicine is not optimal, it is the best in the world at this time. I have no complaint.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Immigrant Moon

Living in Arizona I notice the moon more than I did when I resided in cloudier climes. Tonight 68 % of the moon is illuminated. One can even navigate the desert in the night without walking into cactus. That should cheer the illegal immigrants sneaking into Arizona tonight. I don't know what kind of legal niceties my grandparents had to follow in order to immigrate to the US. They didn't speak English although they spoke 3 other languages. They immersed themselves into American culture. They didn't fly the flag of their homeland at their new American home. They learned English and never taught the old languages to their children. One of my uncles even "Americanized" his surname to make it easier for people to pronounce. They didn't send money back to the old country. They invested it here, in real estate, savings bonds, their children. There was no welfare, food stamps, or free medical care back then. They grew a garden, worked, saved for a rainy day, attended a church that was not being monitored for harboring terrorists. They took insults to their national origins and kept their mouths shut. They became US citizens. Sent their kids off to fight for Uncle Sam. There are similarities and differences with today's immigrants. My grandparents came here in the daylight, their heads held high. I am glad they came.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Nip

Occam having daily life interrupt her writing. Too much social stuff interfering with this, my solitary pleasure. I've been writing since I was in grade 2. My first poem was about a cat pondering whether to climb a drapery or not. My housecat does not climb the drapes. I got him a cardboard claw scratcher which he loves. Especially when I sprinkle catnip on it. Writing is catnip to me. I get delirious over it. I dream about it. I don't care if it has no socially redeeming value. It would be nice if people read me. Occam's husband wants her to write that Great American Novel. It would be par for the course if I had it published posthumously. For now, I'll continue my blog, with its little poems, short stories, and comments on life here on the Double Barrel Ranch.

Had a hot day yesterday. Omen of things to come. The swimming pool is looking better and better.

Bought vaccine for West Nile Virus for the horses. Tiny vial, smaller than the size of an egg, came in the mail in a box as big as a Thanksgiving turkey. I hope it protects horses big time like that too. Everyone is getting crazy over avian flu and all other kinds of bugs. I am not exempt. I don't want a mosquito to bring down one of my horses.

This isn't as much as I hoped to write but that stubborn life is bothering me again.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Attached/Detached Portions

There is just too much in this world for me to even start to blog about. I learned tonight that when you bend uncooked spaghetti that it will never break into two pieces, it will always break into 3 or more pieces. They called it "fragmentation theory". Sounds like a good name. Then there is a place in Nebraska called Carhenge where people can visit cars and trucks stuck vertically into the ground in various positions. Quite the tourist spot it is. I can't wait to see it. Ahem. It snowed on our mountain last night. Last time I looked it was April and this is Arizona. It snowed. Next thing you know there will be an earthquake. Then I got a Customer Info booklet from my bank that said they will maintain appropriate records of my Account. That is a relief. I'd hate to have to figure up my own account balance! I am the product of the public school system. Give me a break. And they will by going to arbitration if I have a claim, counterclaim, cross claim, third party claim, interpleader or otherwise. I especially like the interpleader. Is that like a religious guy who stands in the gap? Anyway, I don't like the sound of arbitration. What comes to mind is a kangaroo court. My apologies to Australia. The alpha kangaroo wins. Not the one who is right. But the biggest, meanest kangaroo. Now if it is me in one corner and the Bank in the other, who is the more impressive boxer? Boxers or briefs? Forget the Boxer, I prefer looking at the Mini Cooper although a Toyota Corolla could run over it like a speed bump. Not sure I'd want to actually ride in one in traffic. I'd feel safer on my motorcycle. There is a motorcycle buried in an old graveyard near me. Not a motorcyle-henge. It is actually six feet under. I think because that is what the guy who owned it wanted. And there aren't many cemeteries that take motorcycles. At the moment I can't remember if the guy is buried with his machine or not. The human part escapes me. Is that what happens when someone kills another person on the spur of the moment? The human part takes a brief hiatus? In Alzheimer's your personality goes on permanent holiday. I think you need an interpleader then. Because there is going to be money involved and that attracts lawyers. I firmly believe that when it comes to the legal system, your past, present and future income will, should and shall become subject to fragmentation, in theory and in truth.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Occam have a short story to tickle the insides of your craniums today. All original by yours truly and it was no dream:

There was a dream I had. I was a young boy living in the Mid-West, in farm country. The horizon stretched to infinity. One hot afternoon a massive storm approached. The dark gray clouds were more than ominous. Not the clouds one would see when there were tornado warnings. These were different. Mother was shutting the house windows and had already taken the laundry off the clothesline. The clouds built up to enormous heights. I felt I was under a tsunami about to break over my head. Nothing would be left of me when it struck down. Shapes swirled in the blackest clouds. Angry horses. I thought I must be dreaming but the cooling air on my arms felt real. Lightening flashed. I could faintly hear my mother called my name. Why were the horses so angry? I reached out to them. If I only could show them I was friendly and no threat to them. The wind gusted. My mother screamed for me. I never looked back. Nothing was left but those dark eyes piercing me, hooves flashing by my ear. Then I was taken. By the black, eternal sky.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Earth Day

Occam had to put A/C on in house for first time this year. Earth Day? More like dry heat day. I celebrated Earth Day by picking up debris that could blow into my swimming pool. And unceremoniously dumping it elsewhere on my acreage. My tall, healthy Australian Eucalyptus tree is dropping seeds & leaves like crazy. Maybe this down under native has our seasons reversed. It is spring, not fall, you messy tree! But it does have some redeeming features. It grows in the desert and it gives shade. Even if it does bombard you with seeds in April.

The Lyrids Meteor Shower is tonight. But I looked last night. All I saw was an airplane cut through the handle of the Big Dipper. I live far enough from a major airport that those high planes are silent as they cruise on overhead, blinking in the night, shining silver in the day. I'll never forget the days following the 9-11 terrorist attack when no planes, high or low flew overhead. The sky looked as it did 100 years ago. Pure. And to us: abnormal. Our lives are imbued by so many unnatural artifacts, that we can't think it should be any other way. Photographs from space show the lights of the earth at night. Do you pollute the night sky with a badly aimed security light? I live near an astronomical observatory, so we are cognizant of improper night lighting that can lessen the abilities of those telescopes. Nothing is as velvet as the dark desert night with the scents of a thousand nocturnal flowering plants luring the bats, the moths, to fertilize them. That is the Earth speaking.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Fun With Taxes & Postage

This is my 100th post in this blog. I'm starting to get the hang of it...

Today I paid property taxes. They aren't terribly crushing here in the outback of Arizona. But they still complexiate me. I can understand county tax, school tax, and fire district tax. But I, located on a hill overlooking a dry wash full of new homes, I, must pay $4 for flood district taxes? Oh, it must be for that 10,000 year flood that may involve my property. And for my 40 acres in Northern Arizona I pay $2 for flood control too, even though that vacant land is on a hill overlooking a dry wash. For you non-desert types, a wash is a dry bed of a stream also known as an arroyo. It is more comfortable to say wash because the more romantic word arroyo is colorful but tough on the tongue which gets wrapped around my eye tooth and then I can't see what I am saying. What do you mean? Complexiate is not a real word? Well, why not? This is the income tax deadline date for most of the US, and if anything is complexiated, it is the IRS.

Overheard in the U.S. Post Office today: a customer saying to the clerk: "I don't want to give the government anymore than I have to." The federal government employee, the clerk, let that one slide. Smart move. He probably earns a lot more than she does. I tread on dangerous ground when it comes to the USPS though. I use the mail service a lot. I appreciate the security and generally good service they provide. And half my family was or is employed by the Postal Service: a brother, an uncle, 2 nephews and a niece. My sister dresses as a mail carrier for Halloween. And they still deliver on Saturdays! But why do they insist on such odd numbers for the letter rate? 37 cents, now 39 cents. 24 cents for an additional ounce. 84 cents to Australia, 63 cents to Canada. No wonder they must use computers to ring up your sale at the counter! Ah just kidding there. I know it is for auditing purposes and all that. I am sure the clerk can add 39 plus 24 in his or her head. But I still like to stick a few 3 cent, 5 cent, and 23 cent stamps on the envelope and see how long it takes him or her to figure out how much more postage I need. That is not as bad as the letter I once received that was covered in 1 cent stamps, up to the correct postage amount. And was delivered as usual. Let's just say that the letter was a result of frustration and complexiation.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I took a break from blogging due to illness. I am back!

Today is Easter Sunday for many people. One of my earliest memories of this day is hunting through the house for my little basket of goodies. The basket was made of wicker and it was reused year after year. Then everyone got dressed up in their finery and we went to church, which was an elaborate affair. Later we went to a close family member's house for a large meal with many other relatives and then I got to watch "The Robe" or the "Ten Commandments" or something special on TV. Note these were all indoor activities because in the Northeastern US it could be any kind of weather on Easter: sun, rain, snow. Here in AZ we have "Sonrise" services outdoors at 6 AM, outdoor egg hunts, picnics, etc. It probably has not rained on Easter in 100 years.

There is much discussion over the origins of Easter celebrations: the Easter bunny being a symbol of fertility, Easter "eggs" more obvious, the "spring is here" kind of hope - even if it is snowing in the Northeastern US - new green life emerging from the dead earth. A resurrection, if you please. A large part of the history of the holiday emerges from the connection with the Jewish Passover, where the angel of death passed over the protected households and yet afflicked the Egyptian homes causing the deaths of the firstborn of the slave masters. At that final straw, so to speak, the Egyptians freed their Hebrew slaves, and Moses led his people out of bondage: to a new life and a land of milk and honey. A couple more metaphors for life emerging from death. Finally we have the worldview of the Christians, who see man as having a corruptable body, a corruptable mind. But after Jesus Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection, the Easter story, man has hope of life after death. An imperfect life which appears to die forever, can live again in a new, perfect body because it follows the example of Jesus. A kernel of corn must die to produce the corn stalk. The corn plant must grow with vigor to produce seed after its' kind. Then it must die to be succeeded. That is how it follows on earth. But Jesus came 2000 years ago to show there was more than this seemingly endless cycle. There is milk and honey for those who believe. Or you can stay in Egypt.

Now, I like Egypt. They have fabulous pyramids there, the Sphinx, the Nile, shopping bazaars to die for, unique and healthy food, and the best thing for me, authentic Egyptian Arabian horses! It's a rich culture. But I wouldn't want to be a slave there. I have a hard enough time making bricks with straw. I choose to believe the Easter story as interpreted in the Holy Scriptures. I prefer to accept the authority of God on this earth and His promise of Easter, than remain in the moldering for eternity.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Books & Horses

Books are my friends. They wait for me indefinitely, on the shelf, on the end table, on the night stand. Sometimes they wait so long that they get dust on them. They don't mind. I love them, old and new. Some books I read twice. Maybe more. I like clever fiction. Margaret Atwood wrote a book about a book within a book. I loved "The Blind Assassin". I may read it again. Silverfish live with me too, no doubt, although I rarely see them.

Today I bought a horse book for one of my granddaughters. It isn't her birthday. She doesn't even live in Arizona. But if her girl's heart is anything like mine was at her age, a horse book is a door to love. The lifelong love of horses, in the flesh, in film, and on the printed page. Maybe today we can add the electronic horse. Proudly strutting forth on PC screens. I need to put more photos of horses in my blog. After all, what is a ranch without horses?

A double barrel cactus horse ranch? Hay, that would make a good title for...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Some Trek

Occam is of a certain age where she watched Captain James T. Kirk religiously on TV in the late 1960's. Today he has a renewed life as a lawyer on Boston Legal. I think lawyers are a necessary evil, sort of like psychiatrists, but this lawyer show is a mind-meld of comedy and drama. Led by the brilliant acting of William Shatner. One could almost begin to see lawyers as humans. I laughed so hard at tonight's episode that I made my throat sore. There are still good screenwriters in Hollywood. They haven't all moved to a galaxy far, far away.

Shatner is a horseman. He used to raise American Saddlebreds and still might for all I know. But the latest I hear is that this 75 year old enjoys riding his reining horses. You know, the ones that do those slides and spins? I am inspired once again. It must be true what my husband told me about his horse-shoeing customer, age 80, female, who was the only person who could ride her two grey Arabian stallions. And she did, daily. If I had a choice, I'd like to be her successor. But I am not quite 80. And there is not a single grey Arabian stallion on the Double Barrel Ranch. Anyone who'd like to remedy that can leave a comment...

I would hope to be awake at 1:02:03 AM tomorrow so I could say I was writing at 01:02:03, 04-05-06, but I'm not a night owl. Interesting convergence of numbers though. But is that Daylight Savings Time or Standard Time?

I'm setting up barrels for my horses. I want to learn them to leap barrels, just fer the fun of it. But I'm a-hoping they won't connect that jumping to jumping their corral fences!

Lately everyone has been buying new motor vehicles around me. One party bought a Hyundai Santa Fe 2001, and another bought a GMC Tahoe 2003. I hope they last 100,000 miles. My first new car was advertised for $2695 and I was so shocked to find they added stuff like sales tax, title, registration, dealer prep, delivery. I was young, naive and they saw me coming. I drove it nearly 70,000 miles and then sold it in rough shape for $500 in 1982 so that wasn't too bad. My next new car I sold at 150,000 miles for $500 so I seem to have a trend going. My current forest green baby ain't going until 300,000 miles and I want $500 for it. I should be near 80 years old. Then you can beam me up, Scottie.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Canine Value

Basal Cell Carcinoma is diagnosed in 800,000 Americans every year. Count me among them. Through the magic of electrodessication my doctor is confident he "got" all the cancerous tissue. Burning skin smells loathsome. It reminded me of all the sunburns I've had on my back. Now, years later, comes the final price I pay for being a pale immigrant from the north to the sunny desert. This is likely only the first skirmish I'll have with BCC. Others may be more disfiguring. Oh heck, my dog will always love me!

I've not been well for a couple days. I thought of those 80-some people who have taken advantage of Oregon's assisted suicide law since it has been in effect. Medical doctors take an oath to "first, do no harm" and I can't see how that coexists with prescribing lethal doses of drugs to people weary of life and fighting pain. I understand these people may have had intractable pain. But I believe the human body has a defense against that. You faint. You die. Those 80 or so people didn't need to implicate others. Time would've taken care of them and their problems. But this is an efficient society. Those 80 people, they should've had a dog.

Friday, March 31, 2006

It's About Time

They're going to start mucking about with the clock again shortly. I hate this changing from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time. In Arizona we do not change our clocks (except for the Navajo Reservation up north). Things seem more steady, less neurotic. But the rest of the U.S. - they have to go "springing forward" or "falling back" in the spring and fall. And confusing me to pieces. It is tough enough for me to remember that back east they are ahead of me in time. What is back is ahead, and in the spring they are further ahead than in the winter. What the? I don't even want to think about it. I am going to bed. And every morning when I get up, the clock will have been ticking away normally. Unlike everywhere else where they save time by confusing me.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Natural Murder

Why would a woman shoot her husband in the back and take off with their kids? Do the various scenarios change if you find the woman's husband was a minister in a small town church? It shouldn't, but the MSM makes it seem worse if the killer is a preacher's wife than your everyday housewife. People snap. It is just a human condition. Christian or not, life is a trial. I would be more surprised if the media reported that she didn't seem like a normal housewife. The BTK killer was a typical man next door, Jeffrey Dahmer was an average nice guy. There is evil in our midst. Be alert and do not be bewildered by what you see. All is as it is meant to be. You are more likely to be killed by someone who "loves" you than a stranger. Deal with it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

As The World Turns

My last post, three days ago, was about the man on trial in Afghanistan for converting from Islam to Christianity. Today it was all over the MSM (Main Stream Media). Blogger beats MSM to the hot topic again!

I took a little camping trip again. Forgot to bring a spoon and had to go beg off the campers nearby. They were from Colorado on their annual trek to the desert to enjoy the great weather. We've had plenty of that this winter and now, spring. I didn't mention my camping trips to Colorado in the summer to escape the AZ heat...

The horses are shedding like crazy. One should not wear black clothing near a horse at this time of year. I can't help but give hugs and pats to my appreciative equines whenever I am near them and I have the hair-covered black clothing to show for it.

It'll be a real shame and loss when the bird flu reaches the US. I love to eat grilled chicken. I'll assume that poultry will increase in price should there be the wholesale slaughters of possibly infected flocks that have occurred elsewhere. But my pet cat is relieved to learn that no infected cats have died from the bird flu. This seems to be an odd flu since it infects such disparate animals: birds, people and cats.

Someone suggested that Denmark send in a secret military squad to kidnap Mr. Rahman from the Afghan jail to bring him to a country where there is freedom of worship. Sort of a payback to Islamists who burned the Danish embassy. Clever idea. Also I wish to mention the problem for Moslems who want respect in Europe. Their religion is very different from the way of life of most modern Europeans. Many Moslems wear traditional clothing, veils for women for example. It is not the easiest culture to assimulate into a Western tradition. They have pretty high expectations from a Europe that has discriminated against another foreign culture that wears Western clothes, whose religion is practically invisible if practised at all, and who have contributed immensely to European intellectual advancement for centuries. I am talking of course about the Jews. Europe was relieved to get them out of Europe and sent back to their homeland. What will they do with the Moslems?

In the US we either kill off inconvenient populations with White Man diseases that they have no immunity to, marry them to dilute the blood, or turn our attention to the next population in the spotlight. Hispanics today.

Day by day, the clock ticks away. We are Danes, Afghans, Israeli, illegal immigrants who crossed the border one night into the US. We have thirst, we look to the sun, the stars and the moon. If we live long enough, we realize that our differences are not that important. It rains on rich and poor alike. The road is hard. Let us reflect.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Mr. Abdul Rahman, Christian

A 41 year old man is on trial in Afghanistan for converting from Islam to Christianity. This crime is punishable by the death penalty. The prosecutor offered to drop the charges if the man changed back and renounced Christianity but the man refused. American troops are in Afghanistan to help them establish democracy. Is this a proper law in a free country? Do they have any idea how this will play in Europe and the Americas if this man is executed? If all those "peace activists", who have been demonstating this past week, were to put that energy into shaming Afghanistan for keeping such backward laws, maybe they'd save this man's life. But that is just a dream, these people are only out for the display and the general good feeling that comes from being for "peace", not to solve specific problems in the world.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Wishing On A Star

If I was standing in front of a fountain, preferably in Italy on a soft summer night, what would I wish before tossing the coin into the water? We all want world peace, so I won't go there. Would I wish for lifelong love? Gobs of money? Health? Which would be most valuable? Love without money and health is bittersweet. Money without love or health is hopeless. Health without love or money is frustrating. I think I'll just wish for a tasty banana split.

Time is flying faster than the Concorde. Oops! That plane was retired. I'm tired too. Tired of idiocy I see in every direction. I don't believe man evolved from apes because we have too many stupid genes to have survived. But a Creator may well have given us these handicaps to develop our empathy. I am running out of empathy. Were can I gas up with some more? My imagination is growing cold. Whinning looks childish to me. They need a good slap in the face. This is not politically correct. But I have to feeling that they will pull themselves off the floor and be better people after doing some humble time. I've had my turn at humbling experiences. I've grieved over my failures. The stars still circle overhead. Even during the day, they're still up there. Let them be a witness. We are a desperate genus. Without imagination.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Without Guinness

As far as I know, I do not have any Irish blood. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the Emerald Isle and wear green on St. Patrick's Day. Green is my favorite color. I've never been to Ireland, but I slept in a certain hotel last night! No, just kidding. Many great horses are bred in Ireland. Must be something in the soil. When horses eat shamrocks they run faster? Jump higher? I love corned beef and cabbage. And it loves me. James Joyce makes a great author to read in high school English class. Finally, as a youngster, I had a few freckles. So I will crown myself honorary Irish. Even on the day after St. Patrick's Day. Disclaimer: I am not writing this under the influence of Guinness.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More Saguaros

Cactus photo
Originally uploaded by edification.
Three young saguaro cacti, maybe only 50 to 75 years old. "Arms" don't appear on Saguaros until they are rather advanced in years in human terms. Picture taken in Catalina State Park, Tucson, AZ, Feb 23, 2006.

This Person is a Live One!

I think I've had a rite of passage. I just had the first removal of suspicious skin spots that could be cancerous. The curse of the light-skinned Caucasian living in Arizona. I say it was my first removal because it is unlikely to be my last. These things often take 25 years to develop and even though I am careful of sunburn today, I wasn't so careful many years ago. It reminds me of one of my father's favorite sayings: If I knew I was going to live this long, I would've taken better care of myself.

I am not frightened to learn the biopsy result. 85% of skin cancers are not serious. Besides, everyone has to die of something.

I spoke some uncomfortable words to my good doctor. I overheard his nurse refer to me in the hallway as "the lesion". Yes, I had a lesion. But I am a person with a lesion, or a patient with a lesion. Due to confidentiality laws she could not say my name aloud but that doesn't excuse her disrespect of me as a human being. My doctor had no defense. He would speak to her. He admitted that sometimes people become their diseases and it wasn't good medicine. Under his breath he was probably saying: son of a gun this lesion is a live one!

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Mad Artist

There is a debate on the etiology of Vincent Van Gogh's mental health. Evidently his case is unique due to his artistic genius and well-preserved letters wherein he minutely described his psychological anguish. He also consumed copious amounts of absinthe, an alcoholic beverage later banned for its' toxicity. (It can cause epileptic seizures.) So what is my excuse? Granola. It has to be the granola. I eat copious amounts of it and then am seized with an uncontollable urge to write letters, or blog, or fall asleep, I can't remember which. Van Gogh had amnesia too. So it has to be the milk in my cereal. Do you really know what pasteurization does to it? Pasteur was French like Van Gogh, and you know how those French are. All that champagne and goose liver paste. It must be toxic. Do I have to paint you a picture?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Horse Show Horse

Horse Show Horse
Originally uploaded by edification.
One of the lively Arabian stallions at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.


Two days have gone by without any mail in my snail mailbox. I don't ever remember this happening before. No bills, no ads, no catalogs. What am I doing wrong? Is my mailman hiding mail in his garage so he can go drink during the day? Actually stuff like that used to happen in the old days, when so many mailmen were WWII vets that the government hired to give them employment. They were very lenient toward untoward behavior. After all, these guys fought for our country and if they had some faults, well, it could be overlooked. But no more. Every paper clip has to be in place for government jobs now. I ought to know, as a Supervisor I used to force employees out the door on a regular basis. Not for the post office. But in a tax-payer supported department. It wasn't fun, but that is the reality of the job market today. There is always someone ready to take your place.

Except in my blog, nobody wants this job. Friends and family can't understand the allure of regular writing, especially for an audience that averages one per day. I have to just write for me.

I do still pen-pal. Yes, sit down with pen and paper and write original letters to people in far-flung locations, stamp it, put it in a mail box, wait two weeks, a month or more for an answer. Then do it all over again. Some folks prefer not to use e-mail. And there is something material about holding the paper in your hand that came from afar. Foreign stamps on the envelope are fun too. But it all adds up to writing. Getting those words out of my head. And throwing them out there.

Let the letters speak about my life.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


My arm has one of those mustard-colored bruises on it, but no lasting damage. So far I haven't come down with any sci-fi diseases that lurk in places like cactus thorns.

I just realized that there is a warning on my keyboard. Danger! Risk of serious injury! With my luck, I am liable to go blogging one day and electrocute myself. I can just see the obituary: woman lives life of danger, dies from innocuous keyboard. Don't laugh. It has happened before. On second thought, go ahead and laugh.

Maybe this is a sign that I should write a holographic will. They are legal in Arizona. People need to know which of my heirs will get my stamp collection. Like really. They bother me all the time about things like that. A holographic will is just written in your own handwriting and signed. It doesn't even need to be witnessed. Seriously, being childless I doubt there will be any clamoring over my estate. Except for the poor executor who will have to sell everything. They will be moaning over the large accumulation of junk I have. They will clamor for mercy, or perhaps a freak fire.

Maybe it is not electrocution, but sci-fi diseases from the keyboard. It does harbor some sinister-looking fuzzy stuff between the keys. God knows what viruses or bacteria reside there. Where is my aerosol can of air to blow away these freakin things? Or is it worse to make them air-borne? Then I might breathe them in and get mustard-colored lungs too!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dangerous Game

Today I will answer the burning question of which is safer: horseback riding a horse that has not been ridden for 10 years? or playing hopscotch?

A few days ago I saddled up my gray gelding that has had a life of leisure. He remembered right away what it meant to be ridden and we took a little tour of the neighborhood. I had a great ride. Do not try this at home! Most horses are pretty hairy to ride when they've been laid off for the winter. Much less a year or more. But this gelding, the product of a 60 year-old Arabian breeding program in Arizona, is special. So that is what happened when I rode the horse. Nothing exciting.

A couple days later I drew a hopscotch game on the sidewalk. Since the 6 year old and almost 4 year old were not too sure of the rules, I hopped the series of squares to demonstrate. Then I lost my balance. I landed in the cactus garden. Any other direction I would've been fine. But nooo! I had to go into the barrel cactus, the cholla cactus and the poke-a-dot prickly pear cactus. Today I had a doctor cut and prod and search and pull out thorns. The kids enjoyed the game. They aren't tall enough to fall into the cactus garden.

So now you know how safe it is to ride wild horses and how dangerous hopscotch can be! Go ahead and laugh. I did when I saw the absurdity of it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


March has come in like a lamb here in Arizona.

That opinion is probably not shared by the local wildlife who are struggling everyday due to the drought. I have to surround my domestic green plants with chicken wire to guard against birds pecking off all their leaves. There's precious little green that is edible in the desert this March.

This kind of weather is great for tourism: short-sleeves, no bugs, everyday is grand for outdoor activities. But after the tourists have retreated to the northern states, the buzzards will circle overhead, cleaning up the weak. Time marches on.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Saguaro cactus

Saguaro cactus
Originally uploaded by edification.
The morning of Feb. 24, 2006 in Catalina State Park, Tucson, AZ.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Good Old Arabian Horses

Tomorrow is the final day of the 51st Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. I was there on Friday, a lovely sunny, 77 degree day. The horses were stars, all of them, even the ones who didn't win their class. Many were half-Arabians but the unmistakable kings and queens were the purebred Arabians, floating through the air, like the world exists for them to adorn. And they do adorn it. If a Quarter Horse is the common man's truck, the Arabian is the sassy foreign sports car.

There were also, they told us, 300 vendors there to entice attendees with everything for the horse and everything for the horse lover, including massages, essential oils, furniture, art, jewelry and clothes. I ate a Mexican buffet catered by a tractor trailer truck manufacturer. These trucks are needed to haul 10 or 12 horse trailers. I toured horse trailers with living quarters that are appointed better than my house. But the bottom line is that these pampered show horses produce the same thing mine do: lots of manure.

Scottsdale produces a fine showcase at the WestWorld facility. After all, a world class event needs world class (read: urban) amenities. But I can't help but see the huge electric transmission lines in the background of my photographs of the horses. At home, my Arabs stand in pure relief against the desert. More like their ancient homeland. But then, in the old days, the Bedouin Arab didn't raise his pure horses with oil pipelines in the background either. It's a new world. For man and beast alike.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2 fast, 2 furry

I've been exploring the Internet lately and it still amazes me. The whole world is out there on line. What was life like before the www? I started with an Apple IIe, so I've been playing with computers a long time. Not that I know much about them. I don't understand my car either, but I can drive it. Speaking of driving, I got stopped for speeding today. I truthfully didn't know why I was pulled over. I was listening to Pearl Jam, just lost in the music and there were lights in my rear view mirror. The officer gave me a written warning instead of a ticket, for which I am eternally grateful. He said I was going 45 in a 35 zone. Oops. The last time I was stopped for speeding I was late for my father's funeral. The officer had mercy then too.

Tomorrow I am leaving town for a few days to do horse things. I'll be camping out in my tent. One can do this fairly comfortably in Arizona in February. The weather is forecast to be sunny and warm.

Horses are starting to shed their winter hair. Fur is flying in the air during grooming now! Spring is beginning!