28 February 2011

Fascination and entertainment

My kitty's have a distinct fascination with the bird cage and it's contents.

Yesterday, Jean suggested I set the cage on the floor so they could watch and wait, and they did just that. Thing is the birds don't seem to care one way or another. They go about their cheerful chirping and usual business without a care in the world ... they know they're safe. I worry my kitty's will knock the cage off the table where it sits.

Jean tells me, she had to rescue Nilly's paw the day before .... apparently she'd managed to catch a claw and not be able to get it loose. Nilly is the worst of the three when it comes to terrorizing the cage and birds, she just won't leave them alone!

They've been wreaking havoc on my desk which sits next to the cage, too. So far, I've been fortunate my monitor and book easel have not crashed to the floor. Inevitably, they will knock the stuff off my desk.

Hours of fascination for the kitty's and entertaining for humans wo watch their antics. It makes one wonder.....

25 February 2011

An interesting hiding place

My kitty's didn't have a particularly good day. One of Jean's little dogs trapped and terrorized them. I'd gone out to do an errand and wasn't gone long. When I returned, I discovered this little dog on my bed with Nilly and Gibby cowering in terror in the corner.

Whew! What a smell...come to discover both Gibby and Nilly had been so traumatized they'd had accidents. Poor Nilly was a mess, she would need a bath. Gibby had fared better but dashed from the room as soon as he could escape. Puzzle was missing. I did find her hiding behind the couch.

I had to search for them again when it was time for their dinner. I found Puzzle hiding under a chair out of the way of roaming dogs. I found Gibby crouched under my desk, also out of the way of roaming dogs. I had to search harder for Nilly. Well.... we found her hiding in the bushes.

They'll probably never socialize with a dog(s) again.

24 February 2011


I was up very early this morning. It was a little after 330 AM. I don't usually get up this early and have no clue what disturbed my rest. I got dressed to go out and have a smoke. While I smoked, I was trying to decide if I should go back to bed or stay up.

It was really quiet, no traffic on the street, the sky clear with plenty of stars to gaze at, and then I heard the owls calling. As I listened, I was hearing calls from three different locations, so I'm assuming there were three birds roosted waiting for something to eat.

I remember when I lived in this neighborhood before, they used to perch on the telephone pole outside my back door. There's plenty of food for them in this area away from the inner city, rabbits, mice, gophers, small cats and kittens.

I've only seen them once or twice. They're big, a desert variety of the Great Horned Owl, 18-27" tall with a wing span of 40-60". I've missed hearing them in the wee hours of the morning and I'm looking forward to hearing them again.

A very special someone

The other day Curmudge and I attended a memorial service for Herbie. It had been a long time since we'd seen Herbie and many of the other drivers who attended. Herbie was more than a co-worker. He was a friend and mentor. His passing has left me (and many others) with an empty place.

It was a fitting tribute to Herbie that all of us were there to share our memories .... in this short moment in time ... and to say our final goodbyes. That day, I learned things about Herbie I didn't know. I guess, I didn't know him as well as some of the others did.

What I do remember is he always had a smile and a joke first thing in the morning; something nice to say throughout the day; and always had praise for a 'job well done' at the end of the day. I remember too, his patience on our jobs, though sometimes that patience was hard won.

Herbie was a very special someone for many. He touched our lives in so many ways, I can't find the words.... You were blessed Herbie, and I will miss you. Thank you for coming into my life.

20 February 2011

A foggy morning

It's still early ... damp and soggy out. I grabbed my camera on the way out to feed the horses and I've been taking picutres.

It's a rare occurence to have fog here since most of the time it's sooooo dry. It's unusual anyway. We had some wicked weather yesterday ... the storm brought winds gusting to more than 50 miles an hour and about 3/4 of an inch of rain.

We had a glorious brilliant full rainbow ( and a partial second) last night as the sun was lowering in the sky and the rain was ending. There are some pretty good puddles in the driveway and the horses are slogging through an inch of mud in the pasture. They're mucked up to their knees.

My new tent needed a close inspection, too. Except for the base tent stakes it fared well and is still standing. I'm hoping nothing got wet inside.

We desperately need the rain. Snow levels came down to 4,000 feet. I expect the higher terrains received more than a foot of new snow. This is good for later in the year. In a few days the hillsides will be green. Some more of this rain without the gusting winds will be welcomed. Perhaps we will get enough rain for a full bloom in the desert.

19 February 2011

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

It's been a long time since I've been around children, especially one who thinks she's already an adult. I'm staying with some friends who have a ten year old.

We're repeating the third grade this year. Something that was necessitated because she didn't pass the required AIMS test to move forward. Reading and writing are issues as is mathematics. The basics. In any case, when this child was moved from a non-traditional charter school setting into a traditional classroom setting (for this school year), she apparently got lost in the shuffle. She was supposed to be tested to determine where her learning disabilities lie. It hasn't been done (at least not in a timely manner) and the shcool year is more than 1/2 over. There are still learning problems in the new school and class.

What's my point? She reads at less than first grade level, she writes/prints words and letters backwards and upside down, she barely puzzles out a math problem.

Her grandmother (who is also her legal guardian) had a meeting at the school this week. She's pushing for the testing she was promised before school started back in August. This child needs to learn the basics. Apparently, it has been determined she is dyslexic and ADD.

She goes to school form 710 to 245. I don't know what the school day consists of because she seldom speaks of how her day went or if she learned something new that did interest her. In this house, I see bookcases full of movies, DVD's and CD's, and a TV in every room. She watches TV all the time, even to the point of blanking everything else around her out. She rarely goes out to play and then only if she has a 'playdate' with a friend over. She does ride a horse, participates in gymkhana, (FYI, her saddle and tack are still laying where her aunt set it down on Sunday after they returned from their latest gymkhana day). I think her only interst in riding is because a friend does.

She doesn't take care of her horse, her grandmother and aunt do that for her. She does not participate in chores around the house (and there's a lot to do around here with three little dogs, three cats, two birds inside and outside three large dogs, two miniature horses, and they're three large horses). Everything is done for her even to getting her heair ready for for school. This kid is ten years old!

Okay, so in July they are moving to a new state, far far away from the life this child has known the last ten years. Oh, yes of course, the move is being talked up and she's excited about it. It's a rurual setting, more rural I think that where they are now. I supposed she's excited because she realy doesn't have playmates here.

What is bothering me is she will probably repeat the third grade again in the new school. Arizona's educational system ranks 49 out of 50 nationwide. The new state's school system ranks between 12 and 15 nationwide, big difference. She will be at a disadavntage when she starts the new school in September.

Learning to read, write, the alphabet, and simple math problems begins at home. If it doesn't start at home with a child ... then how can a teacher be expected to interest said child enough to learn?

16 February 2011

First investigation in a new place

Well they've decided it's time to come out and investigate their new surroundings...
Oh yes, they discovered the bird cage. It was one of the first things they found. The birds went silent almost immediately and I missed a picture of Puzzle on my desk trying to disturb them. Usually, the birds are chirping cheerfully by this time of the day.

We encountered Jean's big cat, Jack. His growl reminded me of the #48 car racing around the track at 195 miles an hour. We found the dry food dish for Jean's cats, too. They have dry food of their own in the room I'm using. Somebody decided to upend the dish in the bedroom in the wee hours of the morning this morning... I wonder who? Usually, it's Gibby.

They discovered the litter boxes in the back hallway. There are two for Jean's cats to use. Mine have their own in the bedroom. I suppose the smells are new and different in those boxes.

We've pretty much investigated everything but we're not quite sure yet and they're sticking close to me, just in case of. I'm sure they feel protected against what ever lurks. Ah, the party is over... I've had to put them back into their safe place. They'll be fine now, I think.

Orderly chaos and disorganization....

....Does anyone know where I put???? First it's empty....

....I'm looking for.... now it's full and briming over?

It's still dark outside, so, I'm wandering around.... flashlight in hand and I can't find what I need. I'm looking for the scoop to scoop dirty litter out of the litter boxes. I'm looking for my little trash buckets, too.

I've spent the last four days moving stuff to a different place. It went a little at a time, since I didn't have help and my little car doesn't hold much on a trip. I thought I was being sooooo organized. But I don't remember where I put stuff.

Fortunately, we (the kitty's and I) didn't have far to go and they made the short trip better than I did. They're content to hide under the bed in the room I am going to use. Speaking of the kitty's .... Puzzle, Nilly and Gibby are used to being masters of their own domain. This is going to be a new experience for them. This is going to require some socializing on their part, and the other's too. There are three small dogs .... boo hiss, spat, growl, out come the claws! Three adult cats .... hiss, hiss, growl, glare, spat! Two birds, which will probably be ignored once they've decided they're not a threat. Outside three big dogs .... TERRIFIED! Oh, oh, I'm gonna run away and hide forever! I'm certain they will eventually settle in.

I noticed when I was trying to fall into an exhauseted sleep last night, it's not as quiet here as it was at Curmudge's new place. There's a lot of traffic on the street and the outside dogs bark at anything that moves in the pasture. I used to live not 500 feet from here. I wonder if I didn't notice the noise because it was farther off the street, or I just adjusted more quickly. More change.

Busy day ahead... more organizing, ya right! I can hope can't I? Oh, by the way I did find the scoop for the litter boxes, the kitty's are happy anyway.

10 February 2011

Winston and Minnie have returned safe and sound

Yay! Horray! Winston and Minnie have been found at last! I thought surely they were gone forever. Last I remember I was giving them my tickets to the Democratic National Convention and wishing them well on their journey. They had passes to meet then candidate, Barack Obama. It was to be an exicting trip for them. I had no idea they had returned home from that trip and crawled exhausted into a box and gone to sleep.

I unearthed them today from a box conatining winter clothing, some miscellaneous sheets and pillow cases, and of all things, my heating pad. I can be assured they've been toasty warm all this time. Needless to say they were starving, so I fixed them lunch. Minnie had a hearty salad. Winston chowed down on one of my favorites, rib eye steak, medium rare.

Their other friend and companion, Mevlin wasn't with them. So, I had to ask what happened to him. They didn't want to talk about Melvin or the trip. I suppose it was so long ago. They did want to talk about what had been happening in my life. They were very concerned about my health when I told them. I assured them there was nothing to be concerned about today. I am well and healthy.

They like the new digs. Winston commented he especially liked the colors inside. He wanted to see out the window to get a feel for where we are now. He had told me more than once he didn't like that other place we'd been living. He thought it wasn't good enough for us. Minnie agreed. She seems to think I got sick because of that place. I might have to agree with her. I did not tell them about Curmudge. I want to save that news for a more somber time.

After they finished eating, they settled in to watch this afternoon's epsiode of General Hosptial. They were just about asleep when Nilly discovered they were here and decided to have a good sniff of them. Her snuffles startled them wide eyed and awake again. They shivered as she took her time, then Gibby came along. He wasn't so interested and went on his way after only a few moments. Both Winsotn and Minnie sighed. They were just about settled down when Puzzle decided to say her hello's. They were glad to see each other. The three had been friends a long time and before you know it, they were all having a cat nap.

I expect Winston, Minnie and I will be having more conversations in the next few days. I'm thinning out stuff, and packing some boxes to put aside for yard sales in the next few months. I hope they don't crawl into a box and get overlooked again. I have certainly missed their company.

Yard art and planting suggestions

I want to put a few more 'artsy' things around our porch. I have a hummingbird feeder up and I hope to hang a few more to entice the tiny birds. I have wind chimes. They tinkle in the breezes and I'd like to put more out. The porch is small, it has three outdoor chairs and my propane grille, which I'm embarrassed to say really needs to find another home in the trash bin. It can be replaced at Walmart for about $20.00.

We're waiting for the property owners to landscape our little yard. It's dirt and I just want to keep the dust down. I expect whatever they do will be in line with the other houses on the street. Most have decorative rocks and scalloped edging to divide lot lines.

I'm thinking plants will have to be drought tolerant and heat resistant. One side of the house gets direct sun from early in the day to mid-afternoon and the other gets diffused light from mid- afternoon until dusk. I'm leaning away from cacti and would rather have colorful perenials. I'm thinking too, when it does rain hard, rocks and dirt will wash from the hill behind us. This could be an issue with plants and other yard art. It could well get washed into the street.

I did (and still do) want a mesquite tree or two to shade the south windows on the east side of the house. The nice thing about mesquite is it grows realtively fast and will be big enough in a year to produce the shade I need. In the spring, I can rake the seed pods and feed them to the horses. I don't know what nutrients are in them, but they love them and they make their coats shiny. An inexpensive treat.

The Direct TV dish sits on the ground next to the house outside my bedroom window. It's an ugly looking thing. I wonder if I can plant green desert vegitation around it without interrupting the signal.

I've always wanted a firepit. Something to sit around on an evening when it gets a little chilly. A chiminea is a cool idea too, but I'd like that on my porch, and oddly enough, I think I'd use it for a planter.

I don't want a yard like the ones you see in gardening magazines. Basically, I want low cost, low maintenance, and functionality.

09 February 2011

August 1963

We were moving. A new town, a new state. Auntie B was driving us away. I was not quite 12 years old and I was crying. Through the tears I watched out the back window of her car, as my friends who were waving frantically slowly disappeared from sight. I was certain I would never see them again. I know I was terribly unhappy. Maybe it was just the tears blurring my vision.

This place we were leaving was a happy place, a place where there were other's to play with, mostly boys. I wasn't boy crazy, I was good enough to play ball with them. All the other little girls were younger than I was except for two. One was satisfied to sit on the sidelines and root for the team I was playing on. She rarely got chosen to play, she was a big girl for our age. The other was more interested in playing with her Barbie dolls, of which she had many, and play dress up. Me? I'd rather be outdoors, running, jumping, climbing trees, playing ball or marbles.

I was terrified I wouldn't make new friends, although Mum and Dad assured me I would after school started. In time I would make a few new friends.

Who remembers how long it took to go somewhere when you were young? I didn't have any conception of time or distance back then. The ride to Auntie B's house seemed to take forever, I guess it was because I didn't know where we were going. It seemed, too, I was destined to cry all the way to where ever it was we were going.

Thankfully, Auntie B's car was a station wagon. My brothers, of which there were three made a rukus. They fought with each other and were generally loud and obnoxious. Auntie had to pull over to the side of the road more than once to calm them. Finally, they exhausted themselves and fell asleep. I must have drifted off, too, because when I awoke, the boys were clamoring out of Auntie B's car and running in circles with our other cousins. I would learn, the boys would be spending the night with Auntie EM and our cousins at their house. I would spend the night with Aunite B and her little girl at her house.

It was quiet at Auntie B's house. The room I slept in was for the grandparents when they stayed with her. The room was dark and I couldn't tell if it was day or night. The bed was hard and uncomfortable, and I was cold. I shouldn't have been cold, it was late summer when the weather is usually hot and stickey. Auntie B fixed me something to eat, I truly don't remember what it was. Then I was sent to the room and asked to go to sleep.

I huddled in the dark for a long time listening to the noises of the old house. It was kind of creepy. I guess I finally fell asleep, because she was there at the side of the bed saying it's time to get up.

Auntie B had the radio on in the kitchen. After I used the bathroom and suffled into the kitchen, she told me about a big fire that had happened in the town we were moving to. She explained a huge gravel pit had burned down the night. How does a gravel pit burn down? I asked. I didn't think dirt burned.

Anyway, she explained our plans had changed and she would be driving me to Nana's house. I couldn't make any sense of what she was telling me. I was supposed to go to Nana's house. It's where I was supposed to stay until Mum and Dad got the furniture moved into the new house. I was looking forward to going to Nana's house. So why was Auntie B so nervous? I was confused.

When I got to Nana's I learned that Mum and Dad had been delayed on the road, and would arrive very late. I would be spending the night with her. Well now, that made me a whole lot happier. I could spend some time with her. We could talk, maybe she would even make me some of her famous 'yum-yum cake'. Somewhere I still have the recipe, but it never quite turned out for me, the way it did when Nana made it.

I loved Nana's house. It sat on a big corner lot with lots of trees and grass. It was a cute little house with a screened breezway, an attached one car garage and a big basement. The kitchen was little and I could sit on the window seat and watch while she bustled around. The living room was perfect, it had a huge fireplace. It only had one big bedroom, so I was to sleep that night on her couch. A set of fold down stairs would take me to the attic. They were rickety stairs so I had to be careful. There was nothing in the attic and it was dusty. I thought what a wonderful place to have a room. One window looked out over the yard toward the ocean, and the other was obscured by the garage roof and more trees.

I remember wanting to stay at Nana's house forever. Her house was comfortable and cozy. I don't remember going to the house where I would live until I graduated from high school. But I do have memories of that house saved for another time.

08 February 2011

Proposed South Mountain Freeway -- Loop 202 Extension

A little history lesson....
South Mounntain Park is the largest municipally owned park in the United States. It is maintained by the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation department. It boasts 17, 500 acres of wilderness area. It is an ecologically sensitive area. So, trails and hiking paths are well maintained as well as clearly marked for users. Other areas within the park include an equestrian area with parking for horse trailers and round pens for working horses. There are restrooms and availibility for water as well.

Tucked away in canyons and on high vistas are ramada's where there is parking, charcoal grilling stations, picnic tables and sometimes swings for the children.Views are specatcular from the tops of many trails and a mountain road leads to near the top of the mountain where visitors can see an entire panorama of the city and valley.

All that said about South Mountain Park .... I live in South Phoenix. I love being able to look out and see the mountain, the park in all it's glory. For many years, I have utilized South Mountain Park for horseback riding, hiking, biking, cookouts and celebrations with friends.

This major freeway extension is planned around the south side of the mountain which will connect the east valley with the west valley.

A project near and dear to my heart. First and ultimately, it will create a by-pass to alleviate traffic congestion in the downtown area by taking an estimated 150,000 + vehicles a day out of the downtown area. Second, the construction alone will bring many needed jobs to the area for a number of years and in the future bring more jobs to the area.

100 + homes in the Ahwatukee foothills area of southeast Phoenix are in the path of the new freeway. The Gila River Indian community's lands border the proposed route. The Gila Indian River community is negotiating with the State of Arizona and the Federal Highway Administration concerning relocation of the proposed plans. Until now the communtiy has resisted, but is now re-considering, as bringing the freeway into South Mountain Park would put native cultural areas within the park at risk.

The headline reads as follows: "Gila River Tribe: Sacred sites on South Mountain top issue in Loop 202 debate...." (dated January 21, 2011, East Valley Tribune)

I would have to agree with the Native American community since I do not want to see any part of South Mountain Park destroyed for a freeway. Yet, I do not wish to see any homeowners loose their homes to eminent domain. I do not understand the taking of land by eminent domain whether from ordinary citizens or from the Native American community.

I believe the Native American community needs this new section of freeway as much as the enitre Phoenix metro area does. An existing two-lane road through the communtiy is a major shortcut for heavy trucks and all manner of traffic. It passes through tiny quiet neighborhoods on the Reservation. This new freeway will eliminate most of this traffic from these neighborhoods.

It's time to pay the piper .... negotiate fair and equitable compensation not only to the Gila River Indian Community, but to homeowners who could potentially loose their homes. It's time to bring much needed jobs to the area as well. Yes, I get there are budgets, ecological considerations, economic considerations, and all manner of issues I probalby know nothing about.

I'm opposed to destruction of land that has been preserved for many years, and I'm in no way suggesting the taking of land by eminent domain for any citizen who's home may be in the path of the new freeway.

04 February 2011

Memories versus pack rat?

Yesterday, because it's so cold here, I went into storage in search of winter clothes... I pulled out three boxes and a tote to look through ....this is ultimately what I ended up with.... the rest is being set aside for yard sales in April and or ultimately donated.

I'm a pack rat of the first order. I admit to being that! I have stuff in boxes and vinyl totes I haven't laid eyes on in a long, long time. I really did think ... yes, I did go through ...yes, I did toss a bunch of stuff before this stuff went into storage in June. So why am I doing this again? There's more that has to find a new home.

I thought after we moved, I'd be able to get some of my most precious things out of storage; knick knacks, artwork, clothing, dishes and pots and pans, etc. I have been getting boxes out regularly, going through them wondering why I've kept this stuff! Imagine, I have duplicates and triplicates of stuff, too (especially in the kitchen department).

I know there's more in these boxes that has to be parted with. But this little voice inside my head keeps telling me ...'family, they will want this stuff to remember me by...' Why on earth woud they want this stuff? Some of it is not much more than a collection of baubles and trinkets from my travels, or stuff that has been passed down from a previous generation. Other stuff is well worn old, old outdated clothing, and old lawn and garden tools ... probably not fit for anything except the trash bin.

So why do I keep this stuff? Because everything has a story, a memory or some reminder of what I was doing when I acquired it. Perhaps, if it's a tool of some kind, it had a use to begin with and I saved it because .... I'll use it again some day? The problem is ... if this stuff is stored and I need it for some reason, I'll have to go searching for it, chances are I'm not going to be able to find it, will give up the search, scratch me head and go buy another. Ahhhh, there in lies the crux of the problem.

Memories versus pack rat?