Wildflower Update

There’s a bad drought in southern Arizona now; I don’t think I’ve had more than half and inch of rain in my yard in over 6 months. So there’s no spring wildflowers in the desert; though here in my yard, since I water, it’s a different story.

The angel above was originally purchased when I thought I was going to bury Baxter’s ashes. However, I can’t quite bring myself to bury them. So, the ashes stay inside and the angel remains outside.

Here’s another view:

I lost a lot of time last week due to a crazy amount of migraines; so that cut into my art-making. Then my sewing machine was in the shop for the week. Then I popped something in my mid-back, making breathing a problem. BLAH. Then I started this short 2 day minor remodeling project in my home, involving, largely, replacing THIS hideous thing….

with a window, and my glum looking front door…..

with something more appropriately feng-shui.

Right now the father-son duo who are doing the work left a pile of tools in my livingroom and more stuff out on my patio. Tomorrow when I get home from work I’ll post updated photos! And then maybe I can get back to art. And get my sewing machine back!


Tucson Wildflower Bloom 2010: A Hike Among the Flowers

I hiked up to Romero Pools this morning with my folks; it’s a bit of an uphill slog through a stunning canyon to where there’s water after rain or snow melt. Since it’s a weekend, we got an early start and initially saw just a few people; but on the way back, we must’ve passed 150 people on the trail, out to see the water and amazing wildflower display.

Here’s the view going up into the canyon; you can see a bit of melting snow on the mountain tops:

Here’s some wildflowers….

…and more flowers along the trail….

….and, looking to the northwest to all the over-development northwest of Tucson, towards Ironwood National Monument…..more flowers….

Here’s mom on the trail, at this point there’s some elevation gain and the cactus gives way to shrubby oak trees:

And here’s my dad; I guess he’s feeling pretty good about being able to easily hike up and down steep mountains at age 73. I should be so lucky when I’m that age!

Soon it will be way too hot to do any daytime hiking. And all the flowers and water will be gone. Get out to hike and see the flowers while you can!

Sabino Canyon Hike With the Parents

It’s sadly been a few years since I tied on my trusty Danner boots and went for a long hike with some elevation gain. A few bouts of hip bursitis in the past few years had me very demoralized when it came to hiking. But, belly dance seems to have really helped my hip and back pain; so with all this fantastic weather we’ve been having and a weekday off from work, it was time to hit the trail, and I got my hiking-legs back with a simple 9 mile loop at Sabino Canyon.

Here’s my mom, with a Perry Penstemon in the foreground. My dad sprinted ahead and we didn’t see him for 4 miles; but then he’s a former marathon runner who moves at quite a clip so little surprise there.

For those of you who don’t live in the desert, you may think it odd to be excited over the sight of a few wildflowers. For us Sonoran desert dwelling outdoorsy types, though, it’s really exciting; usually the landscape is very stark and austere, and when after a heavy rainy season a few flowers manage to sprout up out of…..nothing….it’s quite remarkable.

Here are some Desert poppies, a Star Flower,  something that might be verbena and the leafy beginnings of some lupine growing along the trail:

This is the view looking back towards Tucson; the trail we’re on is behind us, on the left, and below you can see the canyon bottom, full of running water from snowmelt and the direction in which we were headed:

Across the canyon there are very alarming scars along the steep sides of the mountains: this is the terrible damage done by floods and rock slides  that destroyed much of Sabino Canyon after the catastrophic Aspen Fire of 2003.

Here’s my folks; my dad looks like he’s puckering, but, it’s the only photo I have of them from today, which I took when we stopped for lunch:

Isn’t that green cottonwood amazing? It really is that green with the first new leafy growth of spring. And the sky is really that blue.

Here’s all the water along the canyon bottom:

With all the snow in the mountains, there will probably be water around when it’s warm enough to swim; but those days will be few, and when it’s really hot enough to hop in the water, it will be long gone, leaving behind just rock and sand.

Art Quilt Withdrawl

Remember this?

Yeah, I do too. I haven’t worked on it for 5 weeks!

Getting my new windows installed was part of the delay. Now I’m preoccupied about my yard, which is large and mostly not landscaped; it’s a lot of dirt for weeds and dust. Since it’s rained so much, it’s easier than ever to dig and move dirt around.

So, instead of sewing I tackled this part of my yard; I’ve dug a swale, which will be a path through the gate, and which will also channel water away from my house and down to the street:

I’m also about to get my spring/summer veggie beds in shape; here are 6 of my heirloom tomato plants, they have odd names like “Porter’s Pride”, “Harvest 24” and “Aussie” (guess where that tomato comes from); behind them are my seedlings, which haven’t done well in their peat-pots this year:

Soil amendments, and this doesn’t include my own compost, and lots of weed cloth:

I also have been straightening up the yard; as in, tree-trimming: here’s the citrus and olive tree before….

And after:

They almost look naked now. I think I got about 150# of tangelos off that tangelo tree in the back this winter.

Tomorrow, I’m getting 8 tons of gravel (I’m not kidding) delivered, and hopefully my cactus pruners will arrive in the mail: so that explains why I’ll continue to be unable to sew. Just not enough time. But my yard will look much better. The ground is soft and the weather pleasant….so I have no excuse!

OMG It Finally Rained!!!!

I’ve had no real measurable rainfall at my house since last July; 2009 saw Tucson get about 6 inches of rain. It was a disaster; even the saguaro in my yard looked parched.

But all that changed this week: in the past 5 days I got 2.5 inches of rain at my home. And when it rains that much here in the winter, there’s snow in the mountains.

I’ve posted photos on this blog of the (usually dry) bike/pedestrian path where Bearbear and I go for walks. Here’s a shot near sunset today of the semi-urban path, with water:

The condos kind of ruin things. Oh well. Bearbear was very good and sat–per my instruction–as I took my photo:

Once the sun goes down, the Catalina Mountains usually turn pink in the fall, winter, and spring when the angle of the sun is just right. The pointy bit, which you can barely see,  is Finger Rock. Again, too bad about the condos.

I remember going on a forced march up that trail to Finger Rock when I was in 6th grade. I don’t think I’ve been back since; that trail is like going up stairs, and I think it’s about a mile of elevation gain per mile of trail.

Writing this, I’m reminded of  a story in the Arizona Star about 15 years ago, when I think Forest Service employees found a fort someone had illegally built up near the base of Finger Rock; someone had hauled up concrete (!) and water up the murderous trail and actually mixed and poured concrete and built a small, barely perceptible fort; there was evidence that people had spent some time living in it, too.  Insane. I mean, that is really nuts.  I admire whoever had the nerve to do that; though  he or she may very well be eligible for admission into a psychiatric hospital.

I just searched for a link to the story, but, I can’t find one. Too bad. It’s a unique bit of local history. Here’s a final shot of it getting dark as Bearbear and I headed home, to the unusual sound of running water:

More soon on updated quilt art, fiddle tune transcriptions, and the closing of the Grasslands.

Grasslands Bakery and Cafe: Day After Christmas

Just in time for the new year, my mom painted the new sign for my parents’ bakery, The Grasslands, in Sonoita, AZ:

I was visiting for Christmas; and it was quite cold, nightly lows in the low 20s: however, the pansies on the patio (my mom has a very green thumb) survived just fine:

It’s always hard to predict business when tourists and day-trippers make up most of your clientele; I was planning on having a nice sedate lunch when about 50 different people came in to eat at the same time. This is the dining room once most everyone had left; I would’ve taken a shot while the dining room was full, but, I was too busy in the kitchen!

Here’s a photo taken by India, who works for my parent’s part-time; she’s just a great help. This photo is my folks, me, and  my brother Frank, who’s visiting for the holidays from Madison, WI; this is how we looked after taking care of the lunch-rush:

We look so energetic. Not bad.

The drive back to Tucson is very scenic, in my opinion; though I’m always surprised by folks who visit from the East Coast or Midwest and complain about the lack of….green. This is the desert after all; what are they thinking? The drive is an hour. The view from the almost-highest point of the drive looks like this to the east:

I just love the space and in the 20 years I’ve been driving on this road I never get tired of it. Even though it’s an illusion, and we all are all bound to a less-than-free-wheeling life thanks to this-mortal-coil, whenever I drive and have this view I have at least a small, short-lived sense of possibility and potential.

From roughly the same part of the road, if you look the opposite direction you see the Rosemont Junction area east of the Santa Ritas:

This area is very possibly going to be the sight of a huge open-pit copper mine, though efforts are being made to stop such a catastrophe; a guard rail on the side of the row has this to say:

The last two words look to be “pit mine” but they’ve been scratched off, presumably by someone who doesn’t like the current view of things.

Catalina State Park

BearBear (a corgi mix) and I went to Catalina State Park Sunday afternoon; the weather was stunning and hardly anyone was there.  It’s exactly 30 minutes from my house to the trailhead during non-peak traffic. I remember going up to Catalina State Park when it first opened, when I was in high school; then it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, and it was such an adventure to get to that part of town: there was nothing there! Now when you leave the state park, the first thing you see is a giant walmart.

Oh well.

These are some views from the nearly 3 mile Canyon Loop Trail:

catalina state park 1

Below is a lovely view of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness:

catalina state park 2

Then when the trail turns a bit east there’s this great view deep into the Catalina Mountains:

catalina state park 3

BearBear looks a bit pooped at this point:


It’s at this point I realize I’ve left my car keys 1/2 a mile back; but after a run back up the trail, they were exactly where I’d left them, on an observation bench. Shows you how many folks are out on a Sunday afternoon! I was very thankful to find them.


OK. So then we went back down the trail again, which takes a little dive into a small wash….great when there’s water after rain/snow in the mountains….

catalina state park 4

…where some of the last very hardy fall flowers are blooming….

catalina state park 5

Getting outdoors, even if for a small hike, is just so restorative!