April 28, 2012

After heavy rains, I couldn’t mow or have weed eating finished. Had my guys repair fences and remove a huge spread of blackberry bushes around the property. They chipped away at a couple of old stumps I’m always running into. I like things to be ship-shape when I leave, but the maintenance here is heavy.

I caught up on the inevitable paperwork inside, while they worked outside.   Time to play picture roulette and see what comes up in my files.

A big hole in the ground.

My daughter and grandson in a haze of smoke around the campfire.

Not sure why I took a picture of this barn in Monroe, Washington. Maybe because the silo looked like a space ship.  I do like old barns, but, I think I’ll toss this one out of my files.

Sexy shoe?  Now, that’s more like it.

I grabbed this from a story about this famous painting having been recovered after many years of being “disappeared.”

The gate to an animal sanctuary. Just read a horrible story of the abuse elephants suffer. This, after an elephant shocked by an electric fence turned on her new rescuer and killed her. If it were up to me, no animals would be allowed to be used in side shows and circuses for profit. It all too often ends up in horrible misery for the animals. In fact, this recent episode about the abused elephant was that she was being cared for and calmed before being sent to this very sanctuary here in Calaveras County.

A Matt Bors cartoon. Whoops, hadn’t thought of anything political for a whole day. Well, it is pretty funny.

Another shoe picture.  Well, with that, I’d best hot foot it into the kitchen and get my house spruced up before I leave.


April 24, 2012

I just happen to have an extra telephone pole hanging around at my rental which is near my house.  I had a new pole installed to operate the well, but the contractor didn’t remove the old pole. I  caught this freesia in bloom hiding among the grasses, but, I got so excited I completely forgot to take  pictures  as the new contractor cut it down and brought it to my house.

They trimmed it to twenty feet.

Dug a five foot deep hole.

And put it in the ground. It stands fifteen feet high and is ready to be transformed into a totem.  Today, I’ll start some preliminary decorating, just to see how it works out. The purpose is for a fun project at our family and friends reunion in July.

I was inspired by this totem put up by a local club in the neighborhood called The Barnies”.  They charge themselves an initiation fee to join. The money goes to keep the barn maintained in good shape, and pay the power and to use it as a meeting place  for a once a month pot luck. They invite a musician into play, barbeque, play bocce. In other words, just have fun.

the totem was one of their fun projects. Anything goes.

I’m posting this so everyone will bring their junk and we will find a way to get it on the totem. Jan will do a rain dance, no doubt. It will get well christened. We still like to flume, and play horseshoes and bocce, but for some of us, a new piece of art is just the right touch.

I hope you agree and get inspired by The Barnies  creation as I was.

You’ll have to admit it is a fun way to recycle.





April 16, 2012

I haven’t been to the Nugget Bar in my home town of Murphys  in many years. It’s a  typical cowboy bar with a local following.  Some years back, a bunch of us began calling it the Nu-Shzay Lounge in fun.  The French affectation didn’t change a thing. When we moved here in 1978, our closest neighbor would take his horse to town many mornings, and tie up at the Nugget to eat breakfast. But, if he went in the afternoon to get the mail, and stopped for a cold one, his wife would know about it before he got home. Hoagie was a Merchant Marine and lived home for three months and sailed for three months. His wife worked a typical 9 to 5.

I don’t remember when the owners had the horseshoes cemented at the entrance.  Horses were not welcome inside the bar, but old traditions die hard and at one time, after a parade or event, the local cowboys would ride their horses into the bar here and at the Murphys Hotel. Fed up with the tradition, the hotel owner had the cops waiting after a parade and arrested my neighbor, Joe Cardoza.  That brought the practice to a sudden end.

The old pool table is still active. That’s Kelly Wright trying his hand. The Nugget holds a pool tournament each year sometime in the summer. I’ve seen the place wax and wane, the clientele changes, but the spirit remains the same. A bit wild. And, I know a few stories and witnessed a few events I shouldn’t have, I expect. When Ballard was Sheriff, his nephew (out of season)  killed a buck and had it slung in the back of his pick-up. He went to the Nugget to quench his thirst and brag a little. When the guys went out to look?  The deer struggled to its feet,  jumped out of the pick-up, and ran away.

If you click on this photo you will see the bumper sticker on the right. A women And Her Truck, Is A Beautiful Thing. Though the owner of this truck isn’t the type to fisticuff in the bar, there was one woman who would go to fist city with the guys. She was Buggy Bill’s woman, Marian Sly, and I knew her well. She carried two knives, one in her boot and a big Bowie holstered around her waist. She had two rifles and  hand-gun in her pick-up along with her dogs and often her son who spent many nights in that old pick-up. She didn’t take guff from anyone. I’ve seen her haul back and cold-cock a guy over some loud mouthed comment he made.  Which reminds me why I went to the Nugget yesterday. It was Buggy Bill’s watering hole and people came to pay their respects at an informal celebration, as I did.

Tammy Huber knew him for fifteen years. She liked the fact that he never changed. He was always a bit stoic. He did what he liked. He was kind to children and particularly took a young boy in a wheel chair under his wing. He was crusty, but honest and good. I knew him for about thirty years and I don’t ever remember him smiling.

Everyone was having a good time and I was surprised to notice how many long-hairs there were along with cowboy types in the bar. Long-hairs were not welcome at the Nugget in the 1980’s.  My  (long-haired) brother, Norman, left Nevada, drove down Highway 4 and stopped at the Nugget just to use the bathroom. It was eleven p.m. and the bar was filled with the usual  tobacco chewing cowboys,  short haired and oiled. By the time Norman got out of the bathroom, they were laying for him. He escaped out a side door and got away losing only a small handful of hair.

Paul came over the hill from Mountain Ranch with a pot of beans, Bill’s favorite, mine too. All of his friends brought something to eat. Paul has a wonderful apple tree on his land and his niece used to make pies for the local restaurants from her home during apple season. The law doesn’t allow that to happen anymore.

And you can’t smoke in a bar anymore. I’m grateful for that law. On the right, you can see where people park their cigs on a  2 x 4 next to the door.

The Nugget has many windows. The doors were wide open. It was difficult to get good pictures. I arrived late, many people had come and gone. I didn’t know very many people.

I’ve seen this lady around town for many years, and couldn’t remember her name.

This cowboy was playfully policing the doors and not letting anyone outside with a glass, or bottle. A gentle giant who reminded me of another Nugget customer from the infamous fighting Bardsley family. The father, and his sons were ever whooping it up at various bars around the county.  Renowned for their strength and viciousness, no one messed with them deliberately.

My husband once convinced the Nugget owner to open up his then closed kitchen to our square dance group to sit around long tables and enjoy a few drinks on Saturday nights after the dances. George Bardsley  tried to pick a fight with my husband because he called the female bartender, “Honey!”  We didn’t know George’s girlfriend was the bartender, nor did we know about the family reputation, then. My husband ignored him and went back to the restaurant part and sat down with our group of about ten couples.  George went on to  be arrested for murder in another state not long after that. We had a close call and didn’t know it.

I knew Bill well enough that he wouldn’t be insulted by my intrigue with the bar,  his friends, and old memories. I signed his card and bid him adieu.

If the walls of the place could talk…I’d be there every Saturday night.


April 5, 2012

April has been designated National Poetry Month. Don’t know why. I know I love poetry and I’m still mired in tax paperwork so this poem will have to do:

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he’s fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won’t be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He’s good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he’s laid…

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
‘Taxes drove me
to my doom…’

When he’s gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

I don’t know the author of this fun poem but it made me chuckle. I may be frustrated with the process, but unlike Pierpont Morgan, I don’t believe we can run a country without taxes.  I love my National and State Parks, my bridges, my roads, airports, trains and universities. I love my clean water, clean air, museums, vast wilderness, clean beaches and…I could go on and on. I once had a friend retired from the IRS. I used to tease him that he must have a hard time making friends. “Not in America,” he said.  For all the complaining I do about current political shenanigans, this is yet a great country.  The yet implies it may be getting worse,  worse than taxes.  Amen.


March 19, 2012

A glance out my kitchen deck revealed four inches of snow. I quickly retreated to hot tea and toast. It will melt off  by 10 a.m. I guessed.  Huh!  It snowed all day. With mail yet to sort through, I had plenty to keep me busy.

Periodically through the day, I went outside to admire the beauty of it. Wouldn’t want to fill a whole season with the stuff, but it has its glory.

It got thicker and thicker as the day wore on. Then it would melt a bit and start over.

The scene out the bedroom side of the house was irresistible. (Click to enlarge)

The contrast of snow and moss on that old tree of mine.  Not many opportunities to see that happen.

My woodpile wore the frosting. No matter.  I couldn’t use the wood anyway since my chimney needs cleaning and the chimney sweep didn’t answer my phone call.  It was a beautiful, quiet, Sunday, and as I walked inside, I dropped my new camera with the lens open and broke it.  I have a temporary back-up camera, but I’m sad about my little Canon Elph. What a sweet little camera.  I’m in the snow while Jim endured a wind storm. I know a family that moved from Southern California because too many sunny days without contrast is boring.  It’s never boring here.


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.

Gates can make a statement.

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.


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