Tuesday, December 16, 2008

3 Months, Briefly

It has been awhile since I posted. Nothing much has happened. Except:

My husband had to be hospitalized for his heart.

Went on a 9 day vacation to southern Colorado, camped in 3 National Parks, took 200 photos, bought pumpkins from a Navajo guy.

My best horse died suddenly. **cry**

Changed medicines.

Rode motorcycles.

My back "went out" on me for over a week.

My neck was a pain, in the neck (oddly enough), for 4 days.

Started the Christmas madness, including walking on the house roof. Certainly is helpful that I am not afraid of heights or get vertigo.

Other than that, not much in my life.

Monday, September 08, 2008


I'm going to get personal now. Previously I have been very careful to not reveal the real Occam. After all, the Internet is full of weirdos, right? I have come to realize that I flatter myself that any weirdo would chose to harass me. So, here is the truth: I'm really a 5 year old beauty queen from Wasilla, Alaska. No? Okay, I'm really a retired sports hero in drag. No? If you really must know, I am a high school drop-out who won a lottery and my blog is ghost written.

I confess. Still not ready for those hordes of perverts I am sure will descend on my remote ranch, should my real identity be known. Actually it is for their own protection. My sweet, darling German Shepherd dog becomes curled lips, shiny teeth and low growls if anyone even thinks of coming down our driveway.

This will be a slight problem if I should have to be out of town for an emergency. Anyone engaged to come and feed the animals would have to stand 2 meters away from said darling, sweet fanged terror and throw food at her. I got her as an adult so I don't know what her previous owners did or didn't do to socialize her. But she's a pretty good guard dog, that's for sure.

Personally, I really love animals. I should have tried harder to go to Vet school. I like everything about them: when they are charming, when I have to clean up after them, when I have to groom them, administer shots, etc.

Possibly the only thing I dislike is when they die. I really hate that. That is something I am going to gripe to God about when I meet the Big Guy in the Sky. Why do pets have to die so young? Kids -and adults - have such a hard time with their passing, especially if violent. Maybe I should get one of those large birds; they have a long life span.

I will not accept the explanation that dealing with the death of animals prepares one for the death of people. I am really selfish. I want all my friends and family to live forever so I won't have to mourn them. I decided when I was age 11 that I was going to die young, so I wouldn't have to lose my parents. Well, that didn't work out. I had to bury them in 1993 and 2002. It's hard. No, no list of dead pet animals can prepare one for losing your dear parents. I am not even going to discuss losing a child. That is so contrary to the normal.

I guess I did get a little personal. Life and death is rather heavy though. No cute one liner to end this time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Columbine, or Aquilegia, is a native wildflower in the rarefied air in the high elevations of the Mountain. This showy, spurred yellow-flowered variety is a treat to find along streams or in damp places. It grows up to 4 feet tall, with it's lacy leaves looking fragile but somehow this tough, hardy perennial has survived fire, drought, logging, etc. and continues to delight explorers of the Arizona high country.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Moon As My Witness

The waning full moon is playing peek-a-boo with me in the scattered clouds tonight. The air is as still as glass. Moist, vegetal scents lay heavy in the warm atmosphere. I walk my dog and all is right with the world.

I was walking my dog in a deep dark night in early June when I twisted my knee so badly that I tore various elements inside my knee. Even though it was 2 AM and I couldn't walk, I knew I'd make it back to the house eventually.

Now I am 2 weeks post-op. That is, I had my knee surgery and I've been healing quickly over the past 14 days. You would have to closely observe me to detect any kind of favoring of my right knee. I've concentrated on walking as normally as possible. The doctor is rather astounded at my quick recovery. Even though at 253 years old, I am older than the Olympic US swimmer Dara Torres, her medal winning performance- in her early 40's - has inspired older women everywhere to believe that age really is just a number.

From the start I believed that I would recover completely and with minimal fuss. As the news got worse and worse: first just a little tear, then a large tear, then two tears, then there was severe arthritis - I steadfastly believed that I would not be overcome. I can do that with physical pain. I don't know how. It may be a gift. I don't think anyone would purposely want to be super-sensitive to pain but I know many people suffer immensely. I am fortunate.

I see the moon come out from behind the clouds. Coyotes howl and yip in the distance. A night hawk swoops by with it's crooked wings. I stand on 2 good legs. And smile.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chew On Culture Snack, Then Digest

I was going to post this HAIKU poem on a friend's Facebook page but the application was down. Facebook's loss is your gain. It is just for fun and somewhat homophonic. And that has nothing to do with sexual orientation- you will understand homophonic after you have read the poem.

Summer, cicadas
Sunning in a Sassafras
Soon succumbing: Ciao!

I don't know if everyone knows a Sassafras is a tree with a noticeable fragrance; or if everyone knows that Ciao (Chow) is Italian for Good-bye. But a poet always takes a chance that the readers are going to have a blank stare after consuming poetry. Sometimes it needs to be digested.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What 30000 US Dollars Buys

Shortly after the last post I sustained an injury to my knee and was in a leg brace for a week. Then shortly after that, my better half climbed a tree up on the mountain and couldn't wait to come down the conventional way. The fall didn't hurt him; it was the sudden stop. He broke his hip. This necessitated the calling out of the Search & Rescue squad because he was in the forest, high up on a steep bank. They needed to use ropes to lower him down in a basket to get him to the road and the waiting ambulance. Then it took time to just drive down the mountain as this all occured at 8000 feet elevation. I met the ambulance and followed them into town to the hospital. He left leaves, needles, forest dirt everywhere he went. The trauma room looked like a campsite by the time he was taken to a regular patient room. They had to cut his good jeans off him and he was sad.

His hip was pinned back together in surgery a couple days later. Then he had a coronary event and scared everybody pretty badly. This resulted in a 24 hour stay in the Intensive Care Unit and delayed his recovery a bit. So when he was sent home from the hospital, he was quite helpless. People think I'm pretty helpless too, but I managed.

Now a little over a month since it happened, life is starting to resemble his Pre-flight. He is using crutches to go out to the garden to water his melons, etc. Yesterday we went swimming together. Tonight he put together a homemade spaghetti sauce. Oh I forgot to mention, he was so long without a smoke in the hospital, and he had so much trouble breathing, that he has quit smoking cigarettes. Yay!

Soon I plan to drive him back up the mountain so I can see the scene of the crime. What was he doing high up in a big old Pine tree? It is too complicated to explain. Doing a good deed. That will suffice. So much for good deeds. $30,000 USD later in medical expenses --

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Time Is Ripe

I watched a short video today. Two men were driving a lunch truck out in a deserted landscape. The driver looked confident but the passenger was doubtful. He turned on a dirt road and came to a large barren flat, stopped and opened up his kitchen area. The passenger gazed into the emptiness and sat resigned to his fate with this idiot who is parked far, far from any potential customers. Suddenly a meteor steaks passed and impacts nearby. Next scene is of the two men beseiged by hungry people who have converged on the site.

Funny. We can all put ourselves in the place of the passenger. We go along for the ride. It seems pointless. We lack vision. Of course knowing the place a meteor will impact is beyond most of us. But if we spent more time with our mouths shut, and listened with openness and expectation, things greater than selling hot dogs at a meteor crater will come our way. So shut off the TV. Get outside in a garden or a park or other natural spot. Observe. Listen. Shut off your preconceived notions. Where are you now? State facts, not emotion-ladened laments such as "in a mess", "not in as good a place as my family expects," etc. Stay only briefly on this. Then look ahead at where you want to go. Others have been there. It is not impossible. Are you willing to be a person who can sacrifice for a better tomorrow? If not, go back and sit down in front of the TV. Your time is not yet ripe.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Occam Trolls the Web

A while ago I added Carole's MS blog to my links. She's a Canadian woman dealing with a neurological pathology. Her writing makes you feel like you've been listening to your dear sister. And we become better, more compassionate people for it.

Another new blog is by Jiwan about his country Nepal. Jaw dropping photos and particulars right from the source can be seen on Nepal--Shangri-La.

I often troll about the web, looking for those individuals with unique things to teach us. So pop in to see my new friends. But please come back to the Double Barrel Ranch. You never know what I have up my sleeve for the next post.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mother Nature Ends Fire

The fire wrapped itself up on May 23 because of the wet weather. A rare cold, wet system moved across Arizona dropping temperatures to near historic lows. Snow fell in the mountains, including Mt Graham. Snow fell just above the fire line, and over an inch of rain fell on the fire area itself. Occam has lived here 20 years and she has never seen snow in May, especially late May. She quipped to someone: Global Warming? But she read in the paper this morning that lately temperatures are actually running cooler than normal all across the country. Maybe the world. Does this mean that we are warming in reverse? What? Today the visible snow melted off the peak in the warming breezes. The dirt road portion of Swift Trail, as the mountain road is called, was never reopened after the fire because of the snow. Perhaps it will open tomorrow, now that the Holiday Weekend is finished. Our thanks go to the firefighters who did the best they could in the very difficult terrain of the Frye Mesa fire. Officially they are calling it 3100 acres burned. I'm sure they are at another fire somewhere now, maybe California. Our disaster has been averted, other areas are less fortunate.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Frye Mesa Wildfire, Day Three

Benefiting the fighting of the Frye Mesa Wildfire, the weather has turned remarkably cold and wet, and winds have decreased. This is a huge relief for the 321 personnel on site here in Graham County to aid in containing this combustion and a relief for anyone else who loves our Mountain. Evacuation of all the private cabins, public campgrounds and picnic areas was completed today. This situation has likely spoiled many a plan for the approaching big holiday weekend. Although they predict full containment by Sunday the 25th of May, it hard to say when recreation will be permitted to resume on Mt. Graham.

According to the Incident website, the fire sits at 3500 acres tonight. It is directly 5 miles west of me as the raven flies. There are no visible flames at this time. I'm unsure how much rain has fallen over there but we only got a wee bit. The temperatures have plummeted though. It is 49°F (9°C) at 11:30 PM. Incredibly chilly for late May. After all, it was 106° (41°C) just 2 days ago.

"Anonymous" has commented yesterday that the Frye Mesa Dam is "just fine". That is a relief. By analyzing the map, it looks as if the fire did burn mostly to the east, from Frye Canyon to Deadman Canyon. Both areas were burned in the 2004 Nuttal Fire also. Possibly the lack of taller, "higher story" fuels was an aid to holding this fire to the lower elevations. The higher story fuels being previously consumed by the 2004 conflagration.

According to the official sources, the fire began as a spot fire at 1:00 PM, that took off so fast in the high winds that by 1:15 PM they declared it out-of-control. Think of that the next time you are in a wildland setting and are a little careless with your campfire or smoking materials. Those prescribed burn folks were the "experts" and they could not control a spark, you'd have a much smaller chance and could possibly trap yourself or your loved ones. Nobody is beyond learning from this event, professional or casual tourist in the natural world. Fire is friend or foe. Do all you can to ensure it remains our servant.

Photos by David Peters, Bureau of Land Management.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Frye Mesa Wildfire, Day Two

Frye Mesa Wildfire. I stand corrected. It was human caused like 88% of all "forest" fires. (The May 2000 Cerro Grande fire, New Mexico, also started as a prescribed burn. It damaged the Los Alamos National Laboratories.) So sadly, the rumor has been confirmed: a prescribed burn got away from the Forest Service.

You know it is fire season in Arizona if the first thing one hears early in the morning is the sound of helicopters taking fire retardant to a wildfire. At 10:30 AM today it was listed at 1000 acres burned.

Due to the sustained winds, it has vigorously burned in an easterly direction all day. Helicopters and air tankers have been grounded since mid-morning due to the winds. Gusts of 55 MPH have been recorded here today. The incident supervisors are securing local equipment and supplies for a prolonged battle. The fire laid low this morning but after the wind came, smoke rose high all day. Tonight the smell of wood burning, so welcome under the happy occasion of a campfire, is a constant reminder of the loss and devastation just a few miles to the west of me.

The ultimate culprit of the fire is a noxious weed called Sweet Resinbush that infects Frye Mesa. Various herbicides were tried to eradicate it. Most failed to work optimally due to the weather being dry, or they caused damage to such native species as Barrel Cactus or Prickly Pear Cactus. It was introduced as an erosion control plant some years ago. Instead, it became a monoculture, crowding out the natives and ironically leaving the land even more susceptible to erosion. "The best laid plans of men." In addition, cattle and wildlife would not eat it. How could this error be rectified? Burn it. Unfortunately, somebody authorized the burn on a day that a Red Flag Warning was issued. The Red Flag indicates critical fire weather conditons exist because of high wind, low humidity and warm temperatures. Danger indeed.

Mt. Graham has a 7000 foot drop in 7 miles, a dramatic change that paints a clear picture of the steep terrain. The fire is burning up and down various canyons now, perpendicular to the slope up toward the crown jewel, the lovely highest elevations so carefully tended by man. That is the good news for now but the progress depends so much on the weather, and the skill of the fire fighters.

I keep wondering what has happened to the Frye Mesa Dam. A 107 foot concrete arch dam built 79 years ago, the small reservoir is stocked with trout in the winter months for anglers. At 4639 feet (1413 m.) in elevation, the sparkling waters are likely spoiled for many years, perhaps permanently. Run off after a burn is boosted for 3 to 5 years. Blackened soil, rocks, wood debris all flow freely from steep burned slopes. The spillway is sure to be under tremendous pressure. I imagine the whole existence of the reservoir and dam is threatened.

I'm trying to not imagine the horror in those canyons and ridges. Animals fleeing. Scenic glades ravaged. The orange glow and sparks are clearly seen from here. It is altogether unhappy. Rain, come soon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Frye Mesa Fire, Day One

At first I thought it was a rain cloud on the mountain.

Then my better half spoke up and asked if I had seen the smoke. Smoke? It wasn't a weird rain cloud after all. Yellowish smoke was billowing off of Frye Mesa thousands of feet into the sky and obscuring the sun overhead. The temperature started to drop due to the shade. Frye Mesa is the site of a small dam and water collection area for the city of Safford, Arizona water utility. The city gets water from several sources but Frye Mesa has been contributing fresh mountain water for decades.

After nightfall the extent of this brand new fire, being driven by gusty winds, is quite terrifying. I estimate it has climbed up Frye Canyon or Ash Creek Canyon several miles. The sickly orange glow outlines it's destructive path.

Frye Canyon ends near the summit of Mt. Graham (above 10,700 feet elevation) at the multi-million dollar, world famous telescopes. Recently the newspaper USA Today characterized the Large Binocular Telescope there as superior to the Hubble; therefore, the best in the world today. Ash Creek Canyon ends at 9500 feet elevation at the Columbine Work Center of the US Forest Service. Also located there are dozens of summer cabins, a Forest Service visitors center, a summer camp, and a spruce-shaded campground I enjoy a lot. Obviously there is much at stake with this fire.

I have no idea yet on the source of the ignition. A rumor says it was a prescribed burn but a check of authorized burns does not verify this. Frye Mesa is home of an invasive weed that I know the forest service has been trying hard to eradicate, but I hardly think they would have been out there setting fires when there was a Red Flag Warning today with local wind gust of up to 55 miles per hour forecast.

I will up-date here as more information becomes available. In the meantime I have a front row seat to the terrorism of fire on a dry southeastern Arizona mountain forest.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dog Fence

Occam's friend was visiting the man-made geographic oddity of Australia where the states of South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland come together, and here she found the "Dog Fence". It was built over a number of years, to contain the dingoes, or wild dogs of Australia to areas of less agricultural importance. Dingoes evidently have a nasty habit of killing livestock for the heck of it, not for food. Featured in this photo is her Australian Kelpie, a herding dog. I just thought it was ironic to see her standing there with that sign, and worth sharing. Plus to show everyone a spectacular empty desert. My locality is positively rain forest in comparison. The date taken is April 25, 2008.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Barbaro (2003-2007)

I thought I would honor the late Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, today since the Run For the Roses this year is almost upon us. His struggle has enlightened the public to pressure for more research toward eliminating reasons for horses breaking down during races.

I've been to a dozen race meets in my life. I've never seen a horse break down during a race. I hope I never do. But it is bad enough to see on TV.

Barbaro won the 132nd running of the Kentucky Derby last year. Two weeks later, during the Preakness race he broke his leg in more than 20 places.

I don't know who took this spectacular photo. But to me, it combines the elements of the thrill of the race, the historic component with the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs, and the extreme popular interest with the jammed grandstand.

"To the victor go the spoils!"

Rest In Peace, Barbaro.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Brief Remarks

It is springtime in Arizona and that means wind. When we moved here 20 years and 5 days ago, it was a calm evening when we pulled in. The next day it turned cold and windy and the wind seemed to blow for 2 weeks straight. When the wind stopped, it got hot. So I am not going to complain too much about the wind. I don't have long hair. I don't wear dresses. Let nature do her thing.

A neighbor's horse had to be put down. It was only a 4 year old. Cause of injury leading to death was hooking his hoof into a "V" in a pipe fence. Cause of rearing that high to catch his hoof: stray dogs harassing him in his small pen. Yes, someone's Fido. The whole scene makes me sick. I am still too close to the date of the death of my own horse. And I will get her picture up here as soon as I figure out the bugs in my photo software.

My famous brand clothes washing machine has broken. It has a 5 year warranty. I've owned it 5 years and 2 months. Naturally.

The Pope is in the USA for his first visit, and to speak at the United Nations. He's going to tell them we should all get along with each other. I'm psychic. We should though. If we have a disagreement, we should sit down and have a watermelon seed spitting contest. The one who can spit the farthest wins the argument. Dominus vobiscum, Amen.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Noon Creek Waterfalls

Snow melt water running off Mt. Graham has enhanced this cold, clear, waterfalls on Noon Creek. As spring progresses, and the snows disappear from the high elevations, the creek will dwindle to a trickle. Then only run faster due to thunderstorms. No native fish are found here in this vicinity. Most pools dry up in summer. The water actually does continue to flow, but underground and invisible. In fact only a few miles from this cataract the water vanishes underground as it makes its' way east and north in the Gila River watershed. The desert mesquite trees tap it with their long deep roots. People too find it with water wells from 90 to 400 feet deep. As I read about the misery of people living near more robust streams and rivers who are suffering devastating floods, I contemplate Noon Creek. And I'm content with her nature.

Happy Easter

This image was sent to me. I just love it. I thought the rabbit was appropriate for Easter and the others are just icing on the cake. The puppy dog seems real concerned about these other critters which in the wild might be considered his prey. All God's Creatures, Great and Small. Do you think heaven will be like this?

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Sorry for the long hiatus. It has been a troublesome few months. Keesha's health problems have improved but not resolved yet. Then on January 31 I held the head of one of my horses as she passed away. A sudden illness, not uncommon to horses, called colic, claimed her life at not quite 21 years young. Her name was Sasha and I'll post a photo of her soon.

Spring has sprung in Arizona though. New life everywhere. I am going to expect better days and better days will come.

Definitely I expect to write more regularly here.

On the National scene we are picking candidates to run for president and as someone described it to me, "it is great theatre" and so it is. Our method probably bewilders the outside world, as it generally bewilders most Americans too. But I wouldn't change a thing. Let the games continue!

My favorite US Football player has retired. Brett Favre will no longer be the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. He was one of the most beloved football players in America. But the body, and mind can only take so much after so many years of top athletic performance. I wish him well. There will never be another Brett Favre.

I spent an entire hour paying 2 bills on-line because I had forgot my passwords. I finally finished the job, but I hope next month will be easier. That is what I get for having a mind like a sieve and not being able to read my own handwriting. Is that an "f" or a "t"? Hmmmm.

Well, I'll sift some more ideas around and see if I can't create more scribbles to amuse you, till next time, from the Double Barrel Ranch, Adios.