...now browsing by category



Sunday, October 25th, 2020

We’ve had a family of three bobcats around the property this month. A mom and two little ones. Older than kittens but still very playful. One of them is especially curious. Here she is checking out the house.



Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

As I’m seeing pictures of the first snow in many parts of the country, here I staked tomatoes today. 

We had an unusually hot couple weeks (even for here) this summer that prevented my tomatoes  from fruiting. Then a couple weeks ago, we had a dramatic drop in temperatures. Since then, it’s been a pleasant 80-90 during the day and into the low 50s at night. Perfect weather. And my tomatoes have done well since then.

Next week it’s forecast to go into the low 40s, so a freeze could happen anytime. Until then though, we’re enjoying it.

In other news, we’ve been working on refinishing the outside wood doors before winter comes. The sun and wind here is very hard on exterior surfaces so there is always work to do. One new twist on this is our recently adopted cat. I didn’t designed the house with a cat in mind and having no interior doors makes it difficult to contain her. She is the best thing that’s happened to us this year though, and we aren’t complaining!

For those interested, I’m also working on a project now to encourage people here to eat local. We’re on the web, FB, and Instagram if you want to follow along. In the spring, we’ll be doing a couple “big reads” with virtual events and online discussions that anyone is welcome to join.

Garden news

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

It hasn’t been a great year for the garden. I suspect our soil is getting “tired,” and we also had a stretch of very hot weather with little rain that challenged everyone’s growing.

Despite that, September tends to be our peak harvest for many things. Our biggest success this year has been eggplants. These Rosa Biancas are beautiful.

We also have watermelons, cantaloupes, and tomatoes coming along. And as usual, our greens have been solid all year. We’re expecting to get an unusual cool spell next week, so we’ll be planting more then for the fall and winter.

And in other news, we’ve seen another gila monster — this time right outside our house. This was a big one that appeared to be at its peak age.


It’s hot

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

As you may have heard, it’s unusually hot here this week, as it is in many places. It was over 110 both days this weekend and didn’t cool off as much as usual at night. 

The heat leads the birds and other animals to be especially desperate for water and has led the jackrabbits here to find a way into the garden. You may recall that we fenced the garden a couple years ago with heavy cattle panels and hardware cloth on the bottom foot or so. As the heat has risen, the jackrabbits apparently found a way to get over this and squeeze through. We caught one in the garden twice in the last day.

So today we added another row of tighter fencing higher up. We didn’t have enough hardware cloth so we used what we had. Fencing is hot work even at 6 in the morning.

In other news, a swarm of bees left our front tree a couple weeks ago. This has happened before, but in the past, it always seemed to be just a portion of the hive. (We assumed it had gotten too crowded.) This time though, the bee hive in the tree seems empty, temporarily at least. This is a welcome change.

Pandemic at the ranch

Monday, May 25th, 2020

It’s taken me awhile to be in a mental space to write about this here, but I just read an article that prompted me to write something about this weird time. It was about a couple who had always lived in different cities and for whom, lockdown provided a chance to explore what it was like to live together. (They charted their activities and emotions “Dear Data” style, which is how I came across this thanks to a friend. I’m a big fan of “Dear Data.”)

So those of you who know Brad and I know that we have spent nearly all our time together even before the pandemic. We’ve shared the same office space for 15 years or so and since we’ve been here have spent most of our time together in the same room. So being “really” together wasn’t something new or difficult for us. In fact, we’ve both remarked on how much we’ve appreciated having each other to go through lockdown with. There aren’t many (any?) other people I’d want to spend 8 weeks in isolation with.

In addition, we already had a pretty good supply of food here and an active garden (not to mention our own source of water and power). Living out in the middle of nowhere, even before this, we have adapted by keeping large supplies of things like flour, beans, and rice, as well as canned goods (and wine). Since we’ve lived here, I’ve baked my own bread. We seldom eat out, and since I’m a good cook, we eat very well. That has been a blessing during this time.

So what has changed for us? Well, not going to the gym has been a hard transition for me. I’ve started running again, which I’ll keep doing as long as my knees hold out. And Brad has us walking 4-5 miles every day. (We always walked a lot, but not this much or this regularly.)

Since we’ve been home (62 days as of today), I’ve been to town a handful of times; Brad less. I’ve taken a 91 year old friend to the doctor twice and done grocery runs for neighbors on the same trips (delivered to the car; I love that). We’ve also gone to get our local co-op food pickup twice. (It’s a highway-side pickup from a truck.) We’ve been inside no retail establishments or restaurants since late March and have no plans to do so any time soon.

Work has slowed down for both of us, more noticeably for me, since I was in the middle of several things that have been put on indefinite hold. I don’t mind that particularly, but it is different. I sometimes miss interacting with people face to face, but honestly not that much. Brad has worked from home for the last 10 years, so that’s no different now.

And like many, both of us have longer hair now. (I’ve always trimmed my own bangs.)  

Other than that, we’re both fairly depressed about the world situation, as I suppose most are. The pandemic itself is bad enough; the reaction of folks compounds our misery. People’s stupidity is disappointing; their meanness is beyond words.

I’ve been writing a lot of letters and connecting with folks, which I suppose is a positive of all this. I’ve also been baking a lot more sweets, cakes, cookies, scones, etc. The fact that we’ve both lost a couple pounds is surprising.

Most of all, we feel very fortunate to live where we do and to be in a situation where the reduction in work and the economic turmoil that will undoubtedly result from all this is not an immediate concern to us personally. Still, we are worried about the consequences  for society at large and for our community. 

The number of cases in our county is relatively low, but a disproportionate number have been in Douglas. (None in our zip code yet, but there are few people here at all.) Testing has also been very low in Arizona. (I personally know two people who had symptoms and possible exposure, requested a test, and were unable to get one.) As testing has increased in the last week or two so has the number of reported cases, so who knows what the real numbers are?

As of a week or so ago, Arizona is pretty much completely “open.” Restaurants, gyms, salons, and even swimming pools are open for business. We are staying home for now.

A lot of people have talked about what they most want to do when the lockdown is over. The only thing we both really want to do is make a trip to Costco. But that can wait.

Lastly, I hear the preppers nationwide are “disappointed” in the way this world disaster has played out. Not here. The preppers here, of which there are many, are feeling quite smug.

The desert is abloom

Thursday, May 14th, 2020


Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

They seem to think I was going to feed them.


Saturday, April 4th, 2020

The poppies are in full bloom, and the creek out of Horseshoe is running strong.

There is not usually water in this creek. (This is taken from inside the canyon.) We’ve had a lot of rain in the last month.







This was taken from outside of the canyon. The hillside is covered with poppies.


This nest is behind our greenhouse in the blackberry bush enclosure.


Friday, January 31st, 2020

Last weekend, after too many consecutive days of work, Brad and I took a hike in the canyon. Imagine our surprise to see water flowing there.

It’s rare that there is water flowing in Horseshoe Canyon, but we’ve had a good amount rain and snow this winter (well, for here at least). 

With all the water, we are hopeful for a good spring bloom. 

Books for 2019

Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

It’s been cold here, and we had snow between Christmas and New Years (though it didn’t last long). Today was the first day it was warm enough that we wanted to take a good long walk. The sun felt good.

Here is my reading list from 2019. As usual, my favorites or ones I’d particularly recommend are in bold (but with not as much thought to this as usual).

Lots of sci fi this year with an emphasis on series about people colonizing other galaxies and all the attendant challenges of how to organize a society, manage conflict, etc. Both the Expanse series and the Coyote books were very good and helpful to reflect on in light of the current world situation. (The best that I’ve read in this genre is Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series which I read last year.) I also finally read Harry Potter. (I started listening to the ebook with a kid. We didn’t get very far into it but it prompted me to take the books off my shelf and read them.) 

Many of these books I read as ebooks for whatever that’s worth. The fact that I finally got a phone with this century’s capabilities probably affected that.

1. Down by the River by Charles Bowden
2. Letters to a Young Farmer, compiled by the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
3. Notes on a Foreign Country by Suzy Hansen
4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
5. Goat Song by Brad Kessler
6. The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko
7. A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin
8. The Power by Naomi Alderman
9. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
10. The Brave Cowboy by Edward Abbey
11. One Life At a Time, Please by Edward Abbey
12. Postcards from Ed by Edward Abbey
13. Into the Beautiful North by Luis Urrea
14. Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
15. Appetite for Life by Noel Riley Fitch
16. Doing Justice by Preet Bharara
17. The Reckoning by John Grisham
18. Gray Mountain by John Grisham
19. A Call for Revolution by Dalai Lama
20. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
21. Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey
22. Abbadon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
23. Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
24. Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey
25. Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
26. Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey
27. Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey
28. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
29. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
30. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
31. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
32. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
33. The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez by Aaron Bobrow-Strain
34. Full Circle by Michael Palin
35. The Old Man’s Love Story by Rudolfo Anaya
36. A Stranger at My Door by Peg Bowden
37. Mindfulness for Kids by Carole Roman
38. On the Margins by Johannes Wilm
39. After the Flood by Kassandra Montag
40. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
41. Coyote by Allen Steele
42. Coyote Rising by Allen Steele
43. Coyote Frontier by Allen Steele
44. Spindrift by Allen Steele
45. Galaxy Blues by Allen Steele
46. Coming Home to Eat by Gary Paul Nabhan
47. Coyote Horizon by Allen Steele