Camping Autumn Joy List: Photo Friday Style

Last weekend we went camping at Chiricahua National Monument near Willcox, AZ.  Pure bliss!

On the way down we stopped at Apple Annie’s and picked pumpkins and did the corn maze.  A very muddy corn maze but we enjoyed it anyway.

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IMG_8185Pumpkin checkers!

IMG_8217We found some fall color on our hike to Far Away Ranch. The weather was perfect, not hot, not too chilly.

Far Away Ranch has a great history filled with strong women.  The fireplace was made from stones taken from a monument to President Garfield that was falling down.  The names were chiseled by Buffalo Soldiers stationed there before Far Away Ranch became Far Away Ranch.

We had a wonderful tour of the house led by Ranger Anne.

IMG_8235In the afternoon we hiked to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.  This is an old fire lookout tower and proof that we went all the way to the top.

IMG_8248At one point we actually hiked through the mountain!

IMG_8228I would have thought it was too cold for the snakes to be out, especially in the shade, but apparently not.  This is a black tailed rattlesnake I believe, right near the beginning of the trail. Luckily other hikers gave us a heads up preventing any heart attacks.

IMG_8250Still there on the trip back, we had marked his spot with a small rock cairn so as to not get caught unawares.

IMG_8191There are no fire pits at Bonita Canyon Campground so we brought our own, perfectly legal.  The rangers will let you have a small fire in the grill (if there are no fire restrictions of course!)  This was much nicer and we cooked hot dogs and s’mores the first night. It was perfect sitting around the fire weather.

Okay, while seeing the snake on the hike and a skunk (which I did not take pictures of) one night near our campsite (when I was sitting alone by the fire!) did not exactly bring me joy it was still cool (you know, afterwards).  But this guy brought a smile to my face:

IMG_8200The mom had already crossed the road and then I came along and the fawn stopped and I stopped and I told him to go ahead.  I could see the mama deer anxiously looking back and after a moments hesitation the baby deer bounded across the road and caught up to his mama.  We saw a lot of deer, they know they are safe in the National Park area during hunting season.

Mid-Week Ramblings

Even hormonal craziness can’t keep me from doing cartwheels over this lovely autumn weather we are having:  70’s and rain over the weekend, now lovely cool air and that angular autumn sunshine.  It is a huge relief to open the windows since the house has been closed up since April!

At the last U of A football game we went to I noticed three things:

  1.  Oddest item I have seen to date (now that we have to use clear plastic totes):  a woman had a pack of post-it notes.  Still can’t figure out why you would need post-its at a football game.
  2. Two rows in front of us a middle-aged woman’s shorts split from waist to hem, a really big tear, at the beginning of the game. Fortunately she was wearing “granny panties” and we didn’t have to see more than that and she did try and keep her t-shirt tugged down.  Still, kind of odd having to look at that the whole game.  (Of course I tried not to look but it was like a car wreck, you just couldn’t help yourself.)  Luckily she didn’t stand up too much.
  3. I saw a woman with a clipboard and she had pictures you color on it.  But she didn’t color them, just kept adding details with a black pen.  At first I thought she was designing pages for people to color but as she put in more and more details I sort of doubted it.  And the first picture she detailed said “Have a nice day bitches”.  Seemed a strange thing to do at a football game but to each his own.  And it was a nice night to sit outside and color. Or not color in her case but add doodles to a picture.
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This is what it looked like most of Saturday!

When it rains it pours.

Getting rain where I live in the desert southwest is a rare and wondrous thing.  I love rainy days but I love them best when I can enjoy them from inside the house.  I don’t like to drive in the rain here as it can be quite hazardous.  Because of the terrain there is usually a lot of ponding on the roads and some actually turn into washes when it rains hardish.  Plus most people here suck at driving in rain.  They don’t slow down or allow extra stopping distance or avoid that huge puddle which has now blinded the driver in the next lane.  And yes they will tailgate you if you slow down.

That being said now that I have the Subaru I don’t drive my Saab in the rain.  My Saab is not replaceable and I really love that car.  Plus the Subaru has more ground clearance and all wheel drive so it just makes sense to drive it in the rain.  Unless of course your husband’s truck won’t start.

It was pouring rain (rare) and an equally rare Saturday where we had to be in two different places.  So I told my husband to take the Subaru and I would take the Saab.  Only one problem, the truck is in the driveway behind the Saab in the garage.  So in the pouring rain we had to push the truck out into the street.  Ever tried to steer a truck without the power steering?  I ended up pushing because it was easier!  At least we had a tiny slope to work with.

And then when my husband got back he tried to start the truck again that afternoon and it started.  He left it parked on the street as I was still out in the Saab. That night he was going up to Phoenix to a hockey game and I told him to take the Subaru just in case. And  when he got home he went to move the truck back into the driveway, no of course it didn’t start.  So we called AAA on Sunday who confirmed it wasn’t the battery (my original diagnosis was the starter, we’ll see if I am right) and we got it towed to the shop up the street where the Saab was already scheduled to get a new tire (slow leak that has been driving me nuts, they already tried to fix it once) on Monday.

So now I am worried, things happen in threes so I take that to mean something should go wrong with the Subaru.  At least that car is under warranty.  And my husband will be driving it until the truck is fixed so hopefully if something does go wrong he is the one that will be stranded.  Wow, that was mean but really who wants to be stuck on the side of the road?

But life is good, cooler weather is here!

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Picture is from Toronto this summer, a lovely autumny orange color though.

 

 

 

Photo Friday: How Many….

…leaf garlands does it take to make a house look autumnal in the desert southwest?

Let’s start with the kitchen, one above each window and two under the cabinets.

Two in the family room.

IMG_8114One in the dining room.

IMG_8125One at the top of my bedroom closet.

IMG_8119And two in the upstairs hallway overlooking the living/dining room.

And one in front of my south facing office window that would be really hard to take a picture of.  That makes a grand total of eleven.  So the answer is it takes eleven leaf garlands to bring autumn to the southwest.

 

Keep Your Focus!

 

Photo Friday: It Felt Like September

My son is now going to a private school that observes Jewish, Christian and the traditional secular holidays so he was off on Monday for Rosh Hashanah.  In fact the entire month of September he has one day off each week!  With new computer time rules (which are working!) I find it is best to “help” him find things to do if he has a lot of free time.  On Labor Day we went fruit picking at Apple Annie’s.  This Monday we went hiking up at Mt. Lemmon.

IMG_8094Some early fall color starting.

We began with lunch at Viv’s Cafe because it is good to start a hike with a full stomach.  Then up, up, up the mountain we went.  The temperature dropped from 100° to a delicious 72°.

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We decided to try a new trail and I was hoping to do a loop but after a long time of climbing uphill and unsure of exactly how much further we still had to go we decided to simply turn around.  The hike back down was sheer perfection.  Blue skies, a few clouds and oddly, some rumbles of thunder in the distance made the perfect autumnal hiking ambience.  The path was shaded with dappled patches which I absolutely love!

IMG_8101The rain cloud.

IMG_8100A stop at a scenic overlook on the way home. I believe that is the San Pedro Valley.

Driving back down the mountain we could smell rain and observed some wet stretches of road way but no rain fell on us.  We decided to stop at DQ for ice cream which ended up being our dinner and came home to collapse on the couch and watch “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”.

IMG_8105Dinner!

IMG_8097A dried up plant that screams autumn to me.

Best Monday in a really long time.

Keep Your Focus!

Meteorological Autumn is Here!

Wow we had a busy Labor Day weekend but it was all good.  It is no secret that autumn is far and away my favorite season but I do my best to enjoy each season and holiday in it’s own time.  This weekend we managed to combine the best of summer: swimming and grilling out, with the best of autumn: apple picking and college football.

We started out with an after dinner swim on Friday night which was marvelous.  It is dark here by 7:30p and it feels so different swimming under a night sky.

On Saturday morning  I had my first bowling of the season with my once a month league and Saturday evening it was time for Wildcat Football.  Yes they lost but the marching band still rocked it!

 

Sunday we had a quiet at home day planned so we could recover from the late night. (Will the Pac-12 ever see reason and schedule for the convenience of the team and the fans?)  I did some laundry and watched the Cubs win and then we all went for a swim.  Luckily we grilled our burgers early as a rumbly thunderstorm dropped in.  So after dinner we played Sagrada and then retreated to our separate spaces to read , listen to the rain and in my case watch “Bridget Jone’s Diary”.  We got a nice amount of rain overnight, always appreciated here.

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The pie and ice cream smile!

On Monday we drove to Willcox and Apple Annie’s to pick apples, pears and peaches.  We shared some pie (apple crumb and pecan) and ice cream and enjoyed the very blue sky and a refreshing breeze.  We came home for one last swim joking about how the pool would be closed the next day.  (That idea completely confused my son.) We played with my son’s waterproof camera taking all kinds of crazy pictures and movies and had a blast.

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No autumn temps here for at least two more months, maybe longer, but mentally I am already switching gears. I washed my fall quilt today (same weight as my summer quilt just a different design) and pulled out my new orange ‘Life is Good’ t-shirt decorated with leaves that I have been saving.  The weather channel announced it is now meteorological  autumn and that is good enough for me!  Over the next two weeks I am sure I will be slowly sneaking bits of autumn into my life.

DSCN0585Yes, this is one of the silly pictures of me.

Good Bye Summer!

Photo Friday

This week’s theme is Around the Yard:

IMG_8063Yes, that is 104° F at 4:30p in the afternoon (the clock is off, the hour hand is stuck).

IMG_8065Spiderweb.  It seems our spiders are getting ready for Halloween a tad early as the yard is festooned. This is one on my lemon tree.

IMG_8068Can you see all the oranges?  Of course not, they are still green.

IMG_8070Five lemons in one shot, not bad.

IMG_8064And one from the pool.  This is the 5th mouse we’ve pulled out this month.  Seems we have the world’s largest mouse trap, ew.

Keep Your Focus!

Photo Friday

Monsoon season is in full swing here in the desert southwest.  We haven’t been getting much rain but lots of clouds and rumbles of thunder.  This week I tried to find interesting cloud formations.

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I don’t ever remember seeing clouds with holes before moving here.

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You can see the rain in the clouds.

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Sunset storm clouds.

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A little rainbow playing hide and seek.

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I took this on the way home from school pickup. Just a massive cloud slowly sailing along.

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I thought a black and white would be interesting for a change.  Almost looks like the cactus is giving the sky ‘the finger’ (probably because no rain is falling :)).

Keep Your Focus!

The Week in Review 6/27/2018

Summer Solstice:  We went all out celebrating the Solstice.  First we had a picnic lunch in our yard.  We ate the Peanuts Thanksgiving meal:  popcorn, pretzel sticks, jelly beans and toast. After dinner we took a long swim staying in the pool until dark.  Which is only ~8:15p here.  We got ready for bed and then came outside and looked at the stars and the moon and the creepy shadows until 10:00p.  I laid in the hammock and my son had the swing. I thought about sleeping out all night but as it was still 90° at 9:00p we decided to pass.  Plus there is the whole bobcat, scorpion, rattlesnake fears.  We used the lanterns we made earlier this summer (pictured above).  We decorated jars with glitter glue and put in fairy lights.  In the dark it looks like a jar of fireflies, so cool.

A Mild Annoyance:  I switched to a school year planner a few years ago finding it worked better for me.  This year I ordered a planner on-line and didn’t realize it started in August and my current planner ends in June.  Oops. I don’t think I will be ordering a planner on-line again.  I don’t love the one I got dates aside.  It is a little too busy for me.

Something Worrisome:   The cashier at the commissary had a very odd moment.  In the middle of checking out my groceries she paused.  There were bananas sitting on the scale and I thought she was trying to remember the PLU number.  Then she asked ” did you hand me five-oh-nine or five-eighteen?”  I thought she was asking me what the PLU number was and responded with a “huh”?  There was clearly a sticker with the number right on top of the bananas.  Then she asked if I just handed her some money.  What? She looked blank a moment then rang up something that came to $40.11 which she then voided.  She looked at the bananas again and then said something about taking some allergy medicine which had made her sleepy. She finished ringing up the rest of my groceries and as I was driving home I began to wonder if she had had a small stroke or something.  I felt like I should have said something to the manager who had to come over because of the void.  I have been worried about that poor woman ever since.

Throwback Reading:  I think I may have invented the term but I know I am not the only one re-reading favorite childhood books.  I just indulged myself with the purchase of the whole “Ramona” series by Beverly Cleary.  My son and I have read them together (checked out from the library) over the last few years but I decided I really wanted to read them in order over the summer to myself.  So I splurged on buying a set and am so happy I did.  I got a paperback version in a cardboard case and they have wonderful drawings scattered throughout.  Bonus, my son decided to re-read them also.

CSA:  I have been loving my CSA (community supported agriculture) pickup every Sunday.  One less thing I have to think about and to my surprise I am even enjoying the beets.  I made Harvard Beets with the first batch and roasted the second with olive oil and fresh thyme from my one and only herb plant. And I found the easiest squash recipe ever from Susan Branch:  slice squash very thin (you can do yellow or zucchini), heat up some Italian salad dressing and pour over.  I let it sit on the counter 20 to 30 minutes and then popped it in the fridge.  I took it out about 30 minutes before dinner, it was cool and refreshing.  Very tasty in the hot weather.

Our one day of rain from Hurricane Bud led our cat’s claw to bloom.  So nice to see some color.

How are you enjoying summer?

Photo Friday

We decided to take advantage of one of the last double digit temperature days and visit the Sonoran Desert Museum. This place has a very diverse range of exhibits and a nice mix of indoor and outdoor displays. There was a decent amount of shade over the outdoor walking areas, critical under the desert sun.

It was siesta time and lots of the animals were sleeping in shady nooks and crannies.  Here is a bobcat snoozing away.

These three Bighorn Sheep were awake.

There is a hummingbird aviary.

Even an aquarium!  Here are some garden eels, kinda creepy.

Keep Your Focus!

(No post next week as I will be on vacation!)

The Week in Review: Summer Plan

We are now one week into summer vacation and “The Plan” is working out quite well which is a huge relief.

THE PLAN: I spent time really thinking about how to make this summer a good one.  Left to his own devices my son would spend every available moment on the computer.  I lean towards a more balanced use of time.  So I made THE PLAN.  No computer use until after lunch.  And no he cannot eat lunch at 10:00am.  And yes, he will try and push lunch earlier and earlier.

Instead we will spend the morning doing chores and errands, going on adventures, playing board games and three specific tasks:  the 15 min room project, schoolwork and summer journaling.

It has to be done: I want my son to help with cleaning.  I don’t want him growing up thinking things happen by magic or with no idea of the time and energy it takes to maintain a house.  A few months ago I started with him doing one or two small tasks after school each day (dusting, emptying the dishwasher, picking up etc) and will build on those this summer.  The truth is my son is a slob and I do not want any future partner hating me for not “raising him right”.  I know I won’t change him but I hope to at least make him aware of his own messes.

Three tasks:  Our three tasks will take less than an hour each day but I hope we accomplish a lot by the end of summer.  One: The room project is simply giving his room a good clearing out 15 minutes at a time.  He has a small room and a lot of stuff.  A good purge is needed and a semblance of order brought to the current chaos.  Two: Schoolwork will be focused mainly on practicing his math skills and work on his writing skills.  Three:  We are each going to keep a journal of the summer.  It is a sneaky way to practice writing skills and creativity.  We each bought a little journal and some stickers and some new gel pens to share.  This is a task he is actually excited about now that he knows it won’t be just writing but drawing and stickers and whatever we want to use to document the summer.

I made a habit tracker for our three tasks. Working on thinking up some small rewards for meeting our goals.  Any ideas?  

Not all work:  We also have two vacations planned, one to Toronto Canada and a camping trip up in the mountains.

Bucket List:  I made a summer bucket list so when the heat or being housebound has fried my brain I can pluck something off the list. I mainly have activities that we can do at home because I have learned that most likely we will not want to go places in the heat or during torrential monsoon rains.  That is just the way it is here.  Our July is like other places February.

Not fancy but it works for us.

No post next week, we will be off on our big summer vacation trip!

 

Here’s to everyone having a great summer!