October 30, 2010


It's been a strange week: like going to work, and not. I was called to jury duty. Again. I don't know what it is about this state, I have lived here 6 years and have been called to appear 3 times. Twice in county court, and this time to the US District Court. The Cochise County courthouse is in Bisbee, about 90 minutes drive one way, and the federal court is downtown Tucson, about the same distance.

While in the holding pool we were assigned numbers and because there were more than 70 of us, I thought I would have a good chance at being dismissed. For one thing, I had been called fairly recently and once delivered a "guilty" verdict. It has saved me in Bisbee before. Jury selection here took a long time. It seems that over half the state works for some type of government, law-enforcement or otherwise. I thought I almost was free when I was the 11th juror chosen in a 13 person jury. D***N!

I must admit that the court is bending over backwards to make life as easy as possible for us. Because I live more than 60 miles away, they will pay for a hotel room and give me a per diem, but I don't WANT to stay in a hotel downtown and eat restaurant food! I want to be HOME! So, I am driving to Tucson every day. Thankfully court does not start for us until 9:30, and we adjourn at 5 or earlier. I guess I am in a routine already, and am very thankful that Dan is here to take care of the animals' needs. We certainly could not work and have the WD: too much work and certainly no play. I will be back in my old work routine tomorrow of cooking on Sunday for the rest of the week, but after we go for a ride.

We are not to discuss the case, but I must say that the other jurors are very nice and we have some fun during our breaks. The process is interesting, I admit, and I enjoy watching the interaction between all the players. The whole thing should be over some time next week. Then I will be able to get back to "life".

This is a photo of the courtyard behind the beautiful courthouse (not pictured), where I eat my lunch (lovingly prepared by Dan).

October 22, 2010

Those cants!

What a great cantaloupe year! Last year, because June was rather cool, we got skunked, but this year more than made up for it. There were so many cantaloupes in July that Linda, when she ranch-sat, gave them away as well as fed them to the horses. A total favorite with Buggsy, who has a sugar addiction, and who had to be brought down from the stall ceiling when we returned. There is nothing like having a horse with an addictive personality ... (he also cribs). Good thing he is such a sweet horse.

Back to the cants. We have been eating them almost daily all summer and ate our last one this week, so today I pulled up the plants in the garden. Fruit was not ripening any more, and Bermuda grass had invaded the beds and was driving me crazy. But, there were still some overripe/rotten ones on the vine and the chickens had a hay day, or rather a cant day.

Next year I will mulch the plants that spend the entire season in the garden, tomatoes, cantaloupes, peppers, zucchini and cucumbers, with alfalfa hay to keep the weeds down. It contains no seeds and will add nitrogen to the soil once the plants are pulled up. It's what I love about gardening: there is always something to learn, and there is always next year.

October 21, 2010

Cloudy day

Here are some photos of our weekly trek up the Stronghold Divide trail. Yesterday was a perfect day for a hike: a bit cloudy and cool. And it was a relief for Dan who had been sitting in Texas, either visiting or driving.

The young Cous buck on our way to the campground.

We walked up the creek a little ways to discover the origin of that tiny waterfall we heard.

At the top, with rain threatening. It was cold up there. Need to bring a shirt next week.

And on our way back we saw this beautiful Sonoran Mountain King snake.

October 19, 2010

Soup follow-on

Webb asks for the recipe of the Sweet Potato Minestrone, yesterday's post. There's really nothing to it, and because it is quick, veggie-rich, and non-fattening I thought maybe some other people would like the recipe too. So here goes:

Sweet Potato Minestrone (serves 4 hearty eaters)

2 tbs olive oil
1 lb smoked turkey sausage, sliced
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
3/4 cup diced celery
4 cups good quality chicken broth
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potato
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
2 16 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 16 oz can white beans, drained
8 cup coarsely chopped kale

How to make:
Combine the first 5 ingredients and saute for 7 minutes and sausage is a bit browned.
Add broth and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender.


October 18, 2010

Is this fall or what?

I know, a food stylist I ain't, but this looked so yum. Then again, perhaps I am just hungry ... I felt a bit vegetable deprived today, so I made this sweet potato minestrone and baked some Italian bread to go with it. Kale and carrots from the garden.

Think I will pour myself a glass a wine and settle with soup, bread, and dogs on the couch to watch some baseball. Go Texas Rangers, beat those darn Yankees! Dan's going to be home tomorrow.

October 15, 2010

Home alone - not

Dan left for Texas at 3 this morning: La(Verne), his mom, needing some serious cheering up. It's that time of year again, I tell you. It's a bit of a haul from here to the Dallas area, hence the early hour, but the driving is not too bad as most of it is through sparsely populated West Texas on I-10 and I-20. The only city to drive through until the Dallas metro area is El Paso, and he hopefully hit that before morning rush hour. Then it's another 12 hours or so, all through Texas, to get to Big D, which is the driving nightmare. And it does not help that he loses 2 hours because of timezones.

I went back to bed after making him "roadfood" (coffee, breakfast and lunch), so I got up a little late (6 am), and I have been busy tending the WD. I am also seeing after the neighbors' garden as they are at a memorial service in Michigan. That time of year ... Now everyone is fed, watered, and cleaned, and the couch and a book are calling me, but a naplet sounds just wonderful too.

I have laid in a fair amount of seafood for my batching days, and am invited out for fish tacos at Dave and Barbara's tomorrow. Doesn't sound like I will be too lonely. Or get too hungry.

October 13, 2010

Lovely days

October is Best-Weather-Month in our desert. Daytime temperatures are in the low 80's and at night it is in the 40's or 50's. I am still in shorts pre-dawn on the morning walk, but I do wear a sweatshirt. The landscape is drying out, as are our noses, and the mountains are turning tan with still yellow composites blooming in many places.

I have a cactus in a pot that is blooming however, and Dan has had a great time taking photos of it. I have had to put it on the table as I know from experience that it is rabbit food, in spite of those fearsome spines.

As for animals, the wild variety, most of the vultures have left for down south and the hummingbird migration is about over. I still have a feeder up because there are always stragglers, even in the winter. We see a lot of the roadrunner and his/her two chicks, who are now full grown, though still thin. The adult roosts in the barn again, over Buggsy's feeder. Talk about going to bed early: the roadrunner is perched as soon as the sun goes down, which is 5:30 right now because we are in the foothills of Mt Glenn. This early darkness is not unwelcome as the evenings are perfect for sitting around a little fire at Dave and Barbara's, looking at the stars and making some 'smores.

October 7, 2010

Yellow and blue

It's really fall now, and the weather is beautiful. Temperatures are in the 80's, and 50's at night. We are living with the doors and windows open 24 hours. Lovely time of year.

On our hike today I was surprised to see entire hillsides covered in yellow flowers. We have a lot of DYC's here (Darn Yellow Composites), and I did not bother to identify these. There was still one agave lechuguilla in bloom, wonderfully fragrant; it must have thought it was spring.

We saw a couple of Mexican jays at our resting spot. It is a popular site with other people too because it affords a great view of the valley, and the jays are catching on as often tasty tidbits are left behind.

And then there is that yellow Lab, as always having a great time running along and taking a swim in Halfmoon Tank.

October 5, 2010

Is there something special about this time of year?

Is there a shortage of stardust in the universe, and Earth is being called upon to contribute more than its usual share? People around me are losing loved ones over the last 2 weeks, and it is making everybody sad. Two years ago at the end of September Marsha lost her mother, last year my mother passed away, and this year a lot of people are leaving. Dying is a part of life, but it is so tough on those left behind.

I wonder if I am blessed because I come from a very small family, and have not had to deal much with people passing on (my grandparents and my parents), or is loss more keenly felt because it does not happen that regularly? Or do friends get to be as important as family, or am I just hurting for those left behind? Regardless, I'd like this to stop because we still have life to live, and all this is not contributing to my already not too sunny outlook.

Anyway, such were my musings on the morning walk. I should go clean some horse stalls, and then perhaps bake something. 

October 4, 2010

World Animal Day

Today is the birthday of St Francis of Assisi, the protector of animals. I already celebrated this day when I was a child (we called it Dierendag), although we did not have many pets in those days. Now I try to do something special for all those living at and around the WD.

The dogs indicated that after yesterday's hike and this morning's walk, food would be more appreciated than more exercise, so I have some mixed grill planned for their dinner. The chickens got fresh kale and chard from the garden in addition to their usual scraps, and I spread extra birdseed for the quail and ground squirrels who usually hang around the patio.

I cleaned up Buggsy and took him for a little grazing ride, which was topped off with some grazing in our now dry pond which sports a modest, but juicy, patch of Bermuda grass around the edges. Since I was running out of time this morning, I hand-grazed Cody and Bueno on the same grass, and it was a huge hit. Cody never even raised his head once he fell into it.

Meanwhile, Dan is wasting today, and apparently the next couple of days, at our county courthouse (90 minutes drive one way) doing jury duty. One drawback of living in a sparsely populated county: expect to be called for jury duty every 2 years, and as long as you can fog a mirror and have not contributed to a guilty verdict, expect to serve.

October 3, 2010

Oh my ...

The four of us went on a hike this morning. We felt the need to stretch the old legs and work a little on Shawna's conditioning. It was not exactly bushwacking because we followed a trail that we often take on horseback, but the grass is hip-high right now and the path a bit obscure. We all walked right by this rattler taking a nap, but I just caught him out of the corner of my eye as my foot missed him. Dan went back to take some pictures, and he never stirred or even woke up. Talk about good camouflage.

I am surprised to still see some very young animals. This morning a spadefoot toad, less than 1 inch tall, sat on the mat by the front door, and on our way home we saw this tiny, thumbnail-sized,  horned frog.

Shawna did great on the walk, the longest one in years. We are all about to sack out in front of the Sunday football game with some popcorn.

October 1, 2010


I find praying mantis' fascinating insects, and we are seeing a lot of them right now. In the evening they sit on the window screens scoping out snacks among the moths and other insects that are drawn to the lights inside.

When pulling weeds this week I came upon a large green female, and I tried to leave the plant she was on while I cleaned up the rest of the patch, but time came for that plant to also go into brush pile. I looked for her, but did not see her and hoped for the best. I then felt something on my arm, and there she was! I carefully put her on my hand and she just sat there and looked at me. I was amazed. She now lives on the other side of the driveway, hopefully (life is tough out here).

Most of the praying mantis' that we see here are green, but I found this tan one on a basil plant this morning. Should have been green... And then there was this green one on the hay fork. Should have been tan ...