February 22, 2012
A look at the Titan II from the top down into the silo. The Titan Missiles were a successful war deterrent. For one such anti-war person as myself, I had never believed that philosophy. But, when the very knowledgeable volunteer told us that the missile site was never hidden, the Russians knew where our missiles were located; the U.S. knew where their missile silos were located. It made me rethink that philosophy.
The underground command center to the left in the photo. The entrance chamber in the middle. The actual 103 foot tall missile in its own underground chamber, all are available to visitors to the museum. Very educational and interesting to see.
The Cold War issues were critical and frightening to all of us living at that time. Just the thought of nuclear war, destroying the world as we knew it, never to recover. What insanity did that imply? Both sides knew if they struck first, the retaliation would be automatic and devastating. Thus, neither would pull the trigger with the knowledge that nuclear war was a lose-lose situation. Dismantling of nuclear war weapons is still happening.
The fail safe methods employed here, the attention to detail and safety, made me shiver. Only two people occupied the command center waiting for that terrible call to press the button that would launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. The missiles would reach them in 30 minutes. Once launched, there was no turning back. The No Lone Zone makes it clear that no single person could carry that responsibility. It was always dependent on two people to safe check each other.
Walls of special reinforced concrete in the silos, eight feet thick. In the command center above, four feet thick. Check the hinge on the right of the photo. It carried a three ton door, with such precision and balance it could be opened with one finger. And, even after 50 years, the door is still perfectly balanced.
The cabinet that held the launch codes had double locks. It took two people with keys from different sources to open the cabinet to get the launch codes that had several fail checks in how the final code was delivered by the President of the United States, and the Joint Chiefs, besides the keys issued each shift.
During each tour, the command center is in full operation to launch an underground Titan. It is a sequenced event in three steps after turning the key in sync with a second officer turning a key at the same time.
There were back-up systems to their back-up systems, including this key wound clock that insured the time would never be off by a millisecond. It fail-checked the electric clocks.
I saw all the movies, and how accurate they were about the Cold War and the secrecy and fail safe methods. Being there made me respect that our government did a top-notch job of protecting our country from a possible irreversible tragedy. Manned 24 hours a day, every day, at a huge cost. How much better that money could have been used for peaceful pursuits. So, my anti-war stance has not changed.
In fact, everything here, the phones, the cameras, the computers, even the fuel mixer, of which you see a slice of, above, is obsolete. The holes delivered two types of fuel, only stable when separated. They were only useable when mixed at launch.
This is a view of the missile from below, looking up at the nose cone.
And then this surprise. A time capsule. I’ve seen several put away. But, I’ve never seen one opened. This was a very interesting museum to visit.
Go! And, watch for rattlesnakes. (To understand that statement you have to visit the site.)
February 21, 2012
Meet JR, of San Xaviar. He has a couple of gold claims and works at finding gold just about every day. He also prospects for geodes and turquoise and any gemstone he can find. He’s parked here behind the Moose Club and I had to get nosy since gold washing is a of hobby of mine. You can check my blogs of 2009 when I had company from my native Michigan and took them out to find gold:
I was pretty impressed by JR’s rig, called a recirculating Gold Buddy, by name. It is an automatic sluice box that uses about 20 gallons of water. You don’t need a whole creek to wash your gold, nor do you have to stand in cold water bent over. You can sit and get the job done relatively easy in your yard.
After about two gallons of dirt is washed, JR empties the pan of the cleaned dirt.
After washing about six gallons of dirt, he carefully removes the miners moss, which is the mesh that catches fine gold, right into his gold pan. He activates the washer to put a small amount of clean water in his pan along with the moss.
He rinses the moss in his gold pan and then pans it in a large container of water to which he has added two small drops of dish washing detergent. (Now you know you are really washing dirt.)
We all know how the pan works. The dirt rinses out of the pan and into the water and the heavier gold particles catch in the riffles of the gold pan.
On his claim, he’s getting gold flakes and dust. I liked the recirculating pump operation called a Gold Buddy. I can’t justify buying one at $400. Sometimes you can find them used, he said. He powers it with a car battery sitting on the ground. Pretty simple.
JR’s mom, Bev is a gold hunter, too. She showed me her nuggets, some of which she got with a metal detector. This big one, though, she won in a drawing.
I took a short video of JR washing his dirt on the link below:
February 20, 2012
Tuscon’s early residents were Mexican. The Barrio was where they lived, near a wonderful spot with natural springs. Travelers could water their horses, and like Old Mexico, women brought their clay jugs to the well for household water. The Elysian Gardens formed around the spring became the Barrio center, where people met their neighbors and established social contacts. We started at the edge of the Barrio where some crumbling old adobes await restoration in the Barrio.
It is easy to see how the adobes were built, with their over the door stiles, the hand-made bricks covered over with adobe mud. The adobe, in a hot climate, is a practical, cool building even now.
Some buildings retain the flavor of those times. Especially old businesses like this theatre. Remnants of painted signs on the side of buildings provides a glimpse of the past.
What’s left of the Barrio is mostly restored and beautiful. The bright colors remind me of the Painted Ladies of San Francisco and Methodist homes of Marthas Vineyard.
The area supports a predominantly Mexican community, still.
Restored and beautiful, they retain their distinct shape and purpose.
As you walk the neighborhood, you are as likely to see a section of great charm, as you are a make-shift fence.
Adobes are flat roofed and the water drains through pipes, wood or clay troughs.
If you must use a pipe to drain your roof, why not make it a thing of artistic beauty?
Like this decorative feature for the window bars.
A brightly painted doorway and steps.
I think this one says KEEP OUT! The entire gate is knives.
I preferred this happy little bird.
Many of the adobes still had courtyards. In some of the smallest places, a cool, and inviting retreat could be seen.
Painted murals and colorful decoration are common to Mexican culture.
This resident may not be rich, but he certainly retains his sense of humor. A collection of 13 doorknobs. We thoroughly walked, photographed and enjoyed the neighborhood and returned to what was once the center of the Barrio, what is left of the Elysian Gardens and the Little Eye Springs.
Taken from the history of the Barrio is the designation Barrio Libre:
“This designation was given by the Mexican residents to that quarter of the city lying among Meyer and adjacent streets, southward of the business portion of the city occupied by the Americans. It means Free Zone, and in earlier times was allowed to remain without legal restraints or the presence of a policeman. Here, the Mescalian could imbibe his fill, and either male or female could, in peaceful intoxication, sleep on the sidewalk or in the middle of the streets, with all their ancient rights respected. Fandangoes, monte, chicken fights, broils, and all the amusements of the lower class of Mexicans were, in this quarter, indulged in without restraint; and to this day much of the old-time regime prevails, although the encroachments of the American element indicate the ultimate doom of the customs in the Barrio Libre. It must be understood that these remarks apply only to the lower class of Mexicans and not to the cultured Mexican residents of the city, who, for intelligence and enterprise, are foremost among our people.”
This shrine near the gardens is called El Tiradito, the wishing shrine and is an historical monument. It is the only shrine dedicated to the sinner buried in unconsecrated ground and is fondly referred to as The Castaway.
We then repaired to the nearby El Minuto Cafe and had fabulous Mexican food.
February 17, 2012
Jim spent another day, well, six hours working on the new device, getting it to talk to our router. Oboy! When electronics get mad at you they stay mad for hours.
Sandee and I spent time on her computer with me showing her how to organize pictures. She had some other pesty problems with it her new laptop, and Jim, my resident expert, fixed them for her. When he helps me with MY computer he always sings a little song and does a dance. “Its so nice to have an engineer around the house…” So, I told him he had to dance for Sandee.
Sandee had therapy early in the day and her meds were delivered to her door mid morning. She had polio as a child and has difficulties related to post polio syndrome that comes back to haunt you when you are older. She must have infusions. A nurse comes to the house and administers them to fight the affects of myasthenia gravis. Life ain’t easy, but it’s a gift.
I mentioned how multi-talented she is. I took a photo of this neat little ceramic device she made for her desk, to hide the mass of black cords that now, no longer show against a white wall.
Another ceramic piece she did is the back of this indian’s head.
When she moved to Arizona, she really got into Western art and I’d roughly estimate she has 1,000 artifacts and art pieces visible in her house and yard.
A leather wrapped Indian spear frames numerous pieces with a western hat collection above it.
We will move on to a Moose Club south of Tuscon. In fact, it was 34 degrees and snowing in Tuscon last night. I guess Jim won’t be dancing and singing if we run into it on the road this morning.
We are moving just around the bend to visit some fascinating places.
February 15, 2012
Anne and Fred Hart came by my friend Sandee’s house here in Tuscon. It was Valentines Day and the topic turned to loving relationships. None of us are spring chickens but all of us are young at heart, we decided.
I asked Fred and Anne where they met. “It was a blind date, said Fred, but you should ask us where we got married. I’m probably the only groom who wore a gown and Anne wore the pants.” That’s right, Anne said. I wore white pants and top with a bright red blazer. We got married in a hospital, and Fred wore a hospital gown.” What a hoot.
I met my husband in jail, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, since I worked there. Jim met his wife behind the soda counter in a drugstore.
The day turned cold and since Sandee and I both lived in Michigan, we enjoyed the snow. The trouble is, too soon it melts away. We figured we’ve known each other for 49 years and I’d never asked her how she and her recently deceased husband, Louis, met. “At a party where we were each with a different partner; we were attracted, we talked and our first day we went rafting the on the Rogue River in Oregon.”
Later in the day, friends Don and Michael Bennet stopped in to say hello. We met about 15 years ago when they lived in Murphys. Don golfed with my husband, and Michael and I belonged to the same quilting guild. Michael still quilts with a group here in Tuscon. It’s one of the things I love about rambling, is the opportunity to catch up with friends and relatives in distant places. They were introduced by mutual friends.
We are staying an extra day here since we had serious signal problems. Jim spent part of the day in Catalina getting a new device from Verizon. I didn’t get to blog our visit to Casa Grande, the oldest known dwelling and irrigation system in North America.
It is quite amazing that this structure still stands. It is now protected as a National Monument. About two feet beneath the desert soil is something known as caliche, a natural cement, and the ancient peoples of the Sonoran Desert learned to build with it without any timbers or steel to hold up the walls. They hauled enough wood out of the mountains to make a roof, that then held saguaro ribs and more caliche, to form a floor. The Casa Grande was at one time a four-story building.
The area held many buildings and a large community of about 5000 people, dry farmers. They built canals to pull water from the Gila River, 16 miles away. If we were set down in this desert, we’d be dead within a week. They knew to plant a stalk of corn, that served as a support for their beans, with squash at the base to shade the soil from the hot sun. Eventually, the river channel deepened with age, and the canals were higher than the river. It became too difficult to extend the canals farther and farther up river to get water. They abandoned the site about 1450, it is estimated. If you get near Coolidge, AZ, this is an amazing place to visit.
February 12, 2012
I went to lunch at the American Village in Mesa with my friend Joan Higgins on Wednesday. The pies here are renowned and I intended to try a piece. But, the entree was so filling I never got a chance. Their sign is really good advice.
I hadn’t seen Joan in two years and that happens with my ramblin’ lifestyle. Joan lives in Miwuk, near me in Murphys. She’s a snowbird and spends winters in Mesa.
But, on the other hand, ramblin’ means I get to see people I wouldn’t have seen in many more years than that. My cousin Karen lives in Apache Junction. Still in her hospital uniform, we had breakfast when she got off shift on Thursday morning.
Yesterday, I did some yoga, went swimming while the washing was running, and late in the day, watched an episode of PBS’s Downton Abbey on my computer, a program I’ve become addicted too. It has one more episode to the conclusion.
Joan gave me a great line. She said, “I’m not going on a cruise, I’m not getting a face lift, so I might as well spend it on my kids.”
Two lessons learned: Eat dessert first, I can do that. And, I’m not going on a cruise or having a face lift. Might as well spend the money. (It works like manure and makes things grow.)
January 31, 2012
Yesterday, we drove a 21 mile established park route with 18 designated stops. The preservation is based on the organ pipe cactus above, which is said to play an eerie sound like an organ when the wind whistles over the spines. This area es estimated to be 10,000 years old, a young desert, and specimens are young here as well.
Saguaros dominate the landscape. It is estimated by scientists that a saguaro only begins to make arms when it reaches 65 years. They live 150 to 200 years and can weigh 50 tons.
A “green” desert, it is just beginning to bloom with desert marigolds and poppies, but the ground is full of young lupine that will put on a gorgeous show of purple in about a month.
O’odham Indians made a home here, learning how to synchronize their activities with the harsh weather. They used flash flood water channeled to irrigate quick growing crops in a few areas and harvested palo verde seeds and cactus fruits. Explorers wouldn’t have survived this desert without help from the Indians. The O’odham built shelters like the one above from a tough woody plant, the ocotillo, that resembles a cactus.
Ocotillo shows bright red leaves at times looking like it is in full bloom.
Look but don’t touch, is instinctive when looking at the cholla, pronounced choya, another common cactus in the park. Two species of cholla grow here. Edible fruits can catch on clothing, animal skin or fur and travel all over the park.
Twice, I picked up a dead rider from the cholla.
Prickly pear, is another edible. I’ve tasted the fruits and the leaves which when cooked taste like green beans. They are called nopalitas and you can find them at Mexican groceries.
A crest grows in an organ pipe, a mutation with an unknown cause, admired for its beauty.
The drive covered diverse terrain, and took us a leisurely four hours. We picnicked for lunch, the weather was beautiful. While the saguaros are majestic, they sometimes take on comical shapes.
My favorite-the elephant.
I’ll take you to my teddy bear leader.
Don’t shoot, I give up!
What should we name the baby, dear?
He can’t seem to keep his story straight. Arrest him.
I’ve called this meeting to discuss important issues for young saguaros.
I prayed you would get home in time.
You must stop for an inspection.
Goodbye folks. Come back again.
January 9, 2012
Many times during the last 30 years I’ve been in situations where I would have liked the convenience of visiting people and going places without inconveniencing friends or staying in a hotel. Those occasions come up rather regularly.
One asset to owning this type of van is that I have the ability to park it on any city street or neighborhood without having to pay park charges. It goes anywhere, the beach, the mountains and narrow roads, with ease. Now I have to build a garage to store it! I should probably stick to cooking when I’m home. Human psychology is as difficult to understand as electronics and who can understand electronics?
December 31, 2011
It’s New Years Eve, a cause for celebration. A symbol that all things from 2011 can be put away and everything begins anew. The idea is semi-idiotic, but we love its symbol of hope for better things to come. Why not make a resolution and promise to make the New Year personally better than the year we’ve left behind? There is room for much improvement in this world, so, lets celebrate: (Click the link.)
Its time to get the party started and put all cares away:
And have a toast or three to good things to come:
Here’s to the bright New Year
And a fond farewell to the old;
Here’s to the things that are yet to come
And to the memories that we hold.
In the New Year,
may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship,
but never in want.
In the year ahead,
May we treat our friends with kindness
and our enemies with generosity.
“Let us resolve to do the best we can with what we’ve got”, says
Worthy thoughts and deeds we set before us. It gives us a breath of happiness to see the numbers on the new calendar. Was the old year a good year? A bad year? We can spare for one day to set all of it aside and share with others, strangers even, a bit of nostalgia.
December 26, 2011
Christmas morning, Theo got up, opened his stocking and found a book. He plopped immediately to the floor engrossed. We had to shovel him out of the doorway. When everyone was up and had had breakfast, the kids were allowed to open their presents. Having stayed with them a couple of weeks ago, I heard all of the stories about how they guess what their presents are. “You always buy us Lego, Gramma, one shake and we know what it is,” I was told with a smile. Then Owen confessed to the real tricks. Dousing the ribbons with catnip so the cats would tear open the wrappings. Slitting the taped ends with a knife and peeking at the ends to read the box, then resealing; pressing the paper tightly and try to read through it; measuring the boxes and comparing those measurements with their favorite toys in the store. Oh, they are clever.
Theo guessed his gift as a puzzle. I told him it does sound like a puzzle but that is not what your gift is. When he opened it, attached to the puzzle was a note telling him where his gift was really located, under a quilt, in my office. A Lego game.
I fooled them this year. I’ll have to get smarter by next year.
I thank you all for visiting my blog and hope that you’ve had a good year and an especially Merry Christmas.