The Need to Prune

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Defined as cutting away dead or overgrown branches and stem, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.

Removing superfluous or unwanted parts.

There are times when the noise from the TV gets to me and I need to go do yard work. Living out at the base of the Superstition Mountain surrounded by this much beauty and peace it’s easy to pretend all is wonderful in the world… but we all know better.

This morning I chose to keep the TV off. No internet news either. I have seen enough politics, car chases, robberies, crashes, shootings and more yuck.

No what I need to do is grab my wagon and tools and go prune.image

The big blue sky just starting to warm up, the birds tweeting and chirping, the dogs finding things to sniff, the new morning air fresh and clean.

The first few snips my wrists feel stiff but soon I get going. I can feel the tree thanking me for clearing out its branches so it can breathe. Now it’s not sending extra valuable energy to wasted areas.

I feel the same. With every snip I feel the emotions I carry go away little by little. The pent up worries, fears, anger, all the things we hold inside now flopping onto the ground as a removed thorny branch completely unwanted.

A few more snips and I can see through the clogged branch to the next. I can get to the bad patches easier now that I’m not being overwhelmed with thorns coming from every direction.image

The scrapes on my arms I don’t even feel. The tree and I are happy. We feel the freedom, that heavy weight is coming off.

There’s a scene in my all-time favorite movie “Mommie Dearest” where Joan Crawford played by the brilliant Faye Dunaway is so mad she goes and just hacks her way through her roses! Pruning gone mad! She’s in an evening gown! I eat up that scene with a spoon. I love it. I get it.

Todays need to prune didn’t stem from anger. Some days my brain just feels full. It needs to be pruned. I can’t create, enjoy or share love if I’m full. I have to empty or snip off the unneeded or unwanted.

I finish up the tree and take a step back. I don’t feel the same need inside anymore. The tree no longer needs me either. Both of us are now standing taller.IMG_0771.JPG

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Jethro and some magic oil…

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For a variety of reasons, I don’t sleep very well. Caffeine, too many pillows on the bed, an overactive brain, random middle of the night Javelina visits. Sleep for me comes in broken up pieces. I’m positive it’s not considered healthy but I still seem to manage.

The biggest obstacle stopping me from getting a full night’s sleep is a 17-year-old dog named Jethro. My J-dog.

We have had him since he was a puppy. Matter of fact he just slept through his 18th Christmas! He is family. I call him my love dog.img_0020

At one point in his life he was sharp, fast, obviously intelligent. One of those dogs that people stop you and want to know what he is. Most common question being is he a wolf of some sort? No, Jethro is a white pure bred Shiba Inu we got from begging an old friend whose pair had their final litter.

Now, at 17, he has lost that sharpness. Confusion looms in its place. No longer happy on a leash, no longer the center of attention walking along the beach, no longer interested in being pet by strangers. This from a dog who I marveled at for the endless patience he had for a little neighbor boy who would come by regularly to sit and torment, I mean “pet” Jethro.img_0596

Everyone loves Jethro. He’s a good dog.

Like most of us as we age, the need to pee comes frequently. Oh sure, I could put in a doggie door and hope that my basically senile old dog bangs his head around enough to find his way in or out at night, but instead I wake at the slightest jingle of his collar. I’m not going to let my very old man of a dog go it alone at this stage of his life.

We live on a hill. Early one morning right after we moved here last May, I was in the kitchen making coffee and looked out the window to see Jethro, wobbly legged, trying to lift one to pee and rolled right down the hill! I ran outside barefoot, t-shirt and underwear, still waking up, to find a very confused dog on the side of the hill, unhurt and unfazed because well, he’s not all there anymore. ( Full original posted June 27, 2016 “Monday Morning”)

He now has a fenced area he goes to in the back.

I talked to my doctor about how in the last year my lack of sleep was affecting me. Being an animal lover herself she understood what I was dealing with and suggested I go natural. Agreed.

My daughter Chase gave me a few tiny bottles of oils and said all I would need to do is put a couple of drops of “Vetiver” on my skin and that should do the trick. I had never heard of it, did no research, and honestly didn’t care what it was if it would get me some rest.

Tiny drops of this thick oil on my temples and my brain settles. Tiny drops on Jethro’s nose and he gets sound rest as well. Neither one of us are going to get 8 hours straight but what rest I am getting has been significantly better. I’ve heard him snore.img_0178

Don’t worry, I don’t sell the stuff. I didn’t even pay for the tiny bottle I have so I can’t tell you if it’s expensive or not, but I know it doesn’t take much at all. Drops, barely. I don’t even care if it’s just all in my head and I just “think” it’s working, neither does Jethro.

Just sharing that I have found something that is pretty simple and that seems to make a big difference. Look it up. Vetiver.

It’s helping me and Jethro quite a bit.

Capture My Arizona

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Growing, changing, recreating me here in Gold Canyon has been nothing short of scary and painful. Unwilling to limit myself to what had been available, I set out to make some serious changes in my world determined to find what I was looking for before it was too late and my time was through.

Small battles I wage against myself daily. Can my mental withstand what it is going to take to move to the next level? Or will I become weak and give up, turning around with my tail between my legs defeated? Will the harsh reality of what it takes to make real change stop me?

Well that answer is no. NO! Hell no. I’m just too old, too stubborn and to determine to not live a life that wasn’t meant for me. I have a purpose. We all do.

Not exactly sure my purpose has a specific title, I run towards it anyways. The fire inside too strong to ignore I just continue on, knowing that I know for once it is right.

Fear consumes every second but it will not control me. I’m starting to believe it’s what drives me. My talents will be found and put to use where they belong. I know it.

My journey has taken me into territory so foreign I barely speak the language but seem to get by with my smile and goodwill. The generosity of spirit, love, and energy to continue on sent to me from across the globe is astounding. To think my energy and love was received and felt a world away via the internet is powerful. Even if it went to one person it was worth the effort.

PBS has a contest for photos of Arizona. http://www.capturemyarizona.com They pick the best photos and put them on the T.V screen behind their information. Beautiful pictures from some really amazing photographers.

Everything in my life right now is about taking that extra step to see just what might happen if I did. So I wrote down the information and went to look at my collection of pictures I have taken since I started all of this.

Fear screamed at me so loud I almost fell out of my chair. “What? A contest? You can’t be serious. You use an iPad. Have you seen the photos on the website? Seriously?”

But my heart said do it. So what if they don’t like any of your pictures? YOU DO.IMG_1635.JPG

I refused to put out the ones that I saw as my best work. So damaged from life, I hold special things very close. I could handle the rejection if it wasn’t my “best” work. I could give them “really good”. So I did.IMG_2498.JPG

No I didn’t win anything. I just put my pictures up a couple of days ago. But the community of photographers that have viewed me in the two days I have been in the contest have been nothing short of amazing. Votes and likes and loves and positive comments came from out of nowhere at me. People who have no idea just how hard it was for me to get to the point that any of this was possible.IMG_2282

I can live through the uncertainty. I can create scared. I can create through tears. What I can’t seem to do is stop. So I won’t.

…at least they are going outside…

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…at least they are going outside…

The news reported two men had fallen off a beach side cliff in CA. or is “walked off it”a more accurate term? I don’t know I wasn’t there. I am glad these guys are alive. The cause of this accident? The news reported it was in part because of a new game a lot of people are playing online on their phones. The game sends you off looking for some kind of cartoon character or off a cliff. That is about as much as I understood when it was being explained to me.

“Well… at least they are going outside.”

Yeah that about sums it up. The least. That is probably the LEAST productive thing I could come up with to tell someone to go do with their time while they are outside. (Something productive? How about pick up a piece of trash or two? Noooo can’t develop a game like that…there is an imaginary creature to be found!)IMG_0440 (1)

Yeah… go find an imaginary creature. Ok wait, I think my mom might have said that to me once when I was a kid after I had pestered her one too many times that I had nothing to do outside.”ugh… Just go find an imaginary creature!”

“…at least they are going outside…”

I have heard that phrase numerous times in this past week since this newly declared “craze”.

“…at least they are going outside…”

Remember, I was sent outside daily into the desert as a child with NOTHING much to play with and more often than not NO ONE to play with so no, I don’t really get having my phone tell me to go find imaginary things while wandering around lost. My brain did that on it’s own. The planet I grew up on didn’t have phones for me to carry around.

If you look there is amazing beauty outside. Everywhere. Every state. Every country. Every corner of this planet has oceans and mountains and rivers and lakes and fields…and on and on and on. So much amazing “outside” that you cannot possibly see every bit of it in a life time. Buildings and architecture. Historical sites. Wildlife.IMG_0482

My bucket list has Alaska all over it. Bald Eagles? Bears? Wild salmon? Crab? Yes! But being a desert kid I believe I am part lizard so I better plan my Alaskan trip carefully! Timing will be everything. Cold and snow don’t mix well with us lizards. I don’t even own a decent jacket.

My trip to Niagara Falls still brings a smile to my face when I think of myself in a plastic yellow rain coat being just beaten by the falls standing on a wooden deck that shook violently along with the raging water. Rainbows everywhere.

The fresh air, the breeze…

Ok sure, you can smell and feel these things outside while still focusing on a game. Agreed. Yes, you can also walk and chew gum at the same time.  But how sad and scary if you only focused on the gum. What if that gum was purposely designed to keep you so focused you were led off a cliff at a beautiful beach where huge populations of the world will NEVER get to visit because you thought the gum you were chewing was more interesting than the waves?

Again, the news said the guys this happened to are going to be ok. One fell like 50 feet! I don’t see this as funny.

I fear for our Grand Canyon here in AZ, a place that already sees more deaths and falls than necessary. I am afraid we will have even more visitors who are now more focused on a small screen than on one of the most spectacular views on earth! You can walk up to the edge and look down for miles! Unless your game tells you otherwise…

I have no idea what your game tells you…your game just might tell you to take two more steps forward. I don’t know this game or it’s real intentions. “…now slowly take two steps… closer…closer…”

Please look up people! Look around!

The Grand Canyon is not fenced. They have barriers here and there but we are talking the Grand Canyon. I write about safety. You know this. I am sincerely concerned. AZ see’s enough death on our trails. Too many of whom normally hike but were still taken over by the deserts naturally intense draining abilities. We really do not need any unsuspecting fun seeking gamers sent unknowingly into desert areas that could potentially kill them.

I don’t have to understand this new game. I don’t have to play it. That has nothing to do with caring whether or not my friends, their kids and my family are being encouraged to do it safely.

Whoever or whatever “programs” this game or it’s destinations, I beg you, do NOT send anyone out into this desert seeking your imaginary toy! If you do intend to send them out here, you better make sure the first thing they must acquire are REAL gallons of water before they are allowed to get the ball or whatever it is they are seeking!IMG_2049 (1)

It is July with August approaching fast. It is hot. Yesterday’s LOW temperature was something awful like 91 degrees. It is unpredictable this time of year. We are in monsoon season. A major dust storm can swallow us up. Don’t send anyone out blindly into conditions like this!

Everyone who is playing and enjoying your game oh mighty and powerful game programmer deserves to play it safely! So give some responsible directions!

Why is your amazing technology, with the bazillions of dollars you have just made off of everyone producing this game, not capable of signaling a warning at a beaches dangerous and not newly created cliff ? My car can signal when I need to stop backing up! Beep beep beep!! If your programming can tell someone to go wander around to a precise pinpoint on a map then it needs to be capable of detecting possible dangerous terrain! I am nowhere near high tech but I can pull up a topographical map on Google and see a mountain or cliff.

Oh, and “programmer”, your technology better be able to send off a ping so loud and so strong that the entire Valley of the Sun can hear it when one of your gamers gets lost in the middle of this desert! You have children playing this game. If one of them gets lost out here because of you I want to hear your device, your technology, scream from the mountain top that lost child’s specific location! Then the state of Arizona is going to fine you severely for breaking our Stupid Game Programmer Law for leading any fun loving, unsuspecting, unprepared gamer out into areas they could get seriously hurt.

(Okay… currently in AZ we only have the Stupid Motorist Law but I can see this one coming on a ballot soon.)image

I am all for games. I am all for fun. You know I am all about going outside and engaging with nature. Road trip for sure! Go meet other people with similar interests while you are out there. Have fun! Smile!

But if this new game is taking you outside possibly for the first time in years let’s step back for just a half a second to see who is really leading the way and why. Did you plan any of this? Or are you randomly and possibly dangerously being led around for some corporation’s HUGE profit?

“…well at least they are going outside…”

Paper Clouds

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The amazing people that helped us secure my husband’s VA loan over at AZLendingexperts.com sent us a package yesterday. We love them enough for helping us get this house in Gold Canyon, gifts aren’t necessary. Truly just being here has been so good every day I pinch myself.IMG_2154

Then I opened the package and out pops two fabulous shirts from Paper Clouds.image

All they ask is to forward a picture of their shirts. I’m pretty sure this is a request we all can do.IMG_2151.JPG

What can I do…?

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We have a short time to live. As a human at this point in time we are limited to around 100 years give or take but more than likely not even close to that long. I have Saguaros on the property who will last longer than me. I live near the base of a significant mountain range that is a constant reminder that I am small and my time is fleeting.

It’s usually during times of loss, times of pain or struggle when I start to question everything.  In those times I reflect.image

Does the Superstition look back at me at as some type of  leech? Just another small growing thing that sucks away the air and water but gives nothing back? Or even worse. Am I something that’s has left waste and ruined the space I took up? Did I leave a scar that will take years if ever to heal? Did I have any impact for the good on my surroundings? Does it matter?

I care. I feel. I hurt for others. I cry. I hug. I try to make sure my actions don’t intentionally hurt anyone either emotionally or physically. I give. Isn’t that enough?

You know what?  No… it’s not.

No, I can smile and make eye contact as I go about ordinary daily life. I can hold open a door making sure the person actually got all the way through before I let go. I can say please and thank you everywhere. I can listen not distracted when spoken to. I can send love through my energy out into the vast openness and let it land where it may. I can choose to spend the very limited amount of time I have left taking up space on this planet doing SOMETHING positive. I can be grateful for what I have. The little of it and the lot of it.image

And I can use my most powerful natural given gift WAY more often. I can smile.

You change as you age. You do. You see things differently. You learn. I have learned the power of a smile. You can feel it. It carries energy as it is seen and received.

Laughter of course is great medicine. That’s been said over and over. But you know what? I don’t always get to laugh. Sometimes things just aren’t funny. Some moments in life hurt too much. Stop you in your tracks hurt.IMG_0423

Maybe my smile isn’t as big during those times but it’s there. Smaller, but there. Sometimes it’s that smaller smile combined with tears that simply says I’m ok. I can do this. I have seen that smile in the mirror once or twice.

Fake smiles and practiced smiles don’t work the same. It has to come from inside. The kindness that comes from deep inside you. From that place that allows our energy to connect.

No money needed. Every one of us comes fully ready and equipped to smile…teeth or no teeth. Let’s be honest, a no teeth baby smile is the best. It’s so powerful it can melt a heart.

So this morning we decided to drive around to the other side of the mountain. There is a whole lot more to the Superstition then the limited yet stunning views we see from this side.

I think it’s time for all of us to hop in the car for a mini road trip again. Time to put the effort in. Stretch out a little. Time to see things from a different point of view. To know more. To grow. You may not feel like there is much if anything you can do to change life but there is.

You can go outside and smile. Start there.

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Freedom

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The morning ritual. I get up super early with the dogs, make coffee and wake up. If you read “Monday Morning” you know things don’t always start nice and mellow but today its quiet.

The monsoon is in full effect and we have had a nice amount of rain for us. Too much rain and us desert people flood. Too little and we crack. This morning is beautiful but a little humid so I’m having coffee inside.

imageThen I hear this sad little buzz. A bee has unfortunately had to spend the night inside the house hopelessly banging itself into the window trying to get out. Now morning has come and the poor thing is simply worn out. The open door to the left has been ignored. Too weak to get there at this point or simply doesn’t know or understand it’s there.

I could sit here and act like it doesn’t matter but the truth is I can relate to the bee. I’ve been there. I too have taken wrong paths that lead to banging your head. I too have stubbornly stayed when just simply changing courses would solve everything.image

I’m not afraid of bees. I believe when left alone, respected, they go about their day with a purpose. I have friends who are allergic so I understand not wanting them in your space. I also know the media doesn’t help when they hype up stories of bees attacking.

But not all bees are the same.

I go grab the fly swatter. I tried to get the bee to crawl on my ipad but that was a no! Help was not welcomed with open wings. We would rather bang into the window ten more times then step onto the unknown and possibly off to freedom. Nope. Wont do it.

The fly swatter worked. I don’t know why. The flimsy wobbly plastic compared to the rigid ipad? I don’t know if it felt better to the bee or if that even mattered but we stepped onto it without a full bang into the window melt down this time so that was good.image

I carried it outside and set it down on the bench. You could see the breeze bring it back to life. Little wings fluttered, we wandered across the swatter and then flew off to freedom.

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Then I saw the start of the sunrise. And this time it wasn’t Jethro I would be thanking.

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Soundtrack Not Included

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I love music. What I’m doing and when I’m doing it play a huge part in what I want to hear and at what volume.

When the storms roll in, the sky changes before your eyes. Our little house sits on a hill and has views pretty much from every side. All you need to do is turn the stereo on, go sit on the patio, put your feet up and watch…or open up the house, let the wind blow on through and turn the knob up to 11.image

6:45 pm

We have two classic style stereos. Big wooden box speakers. If you were like me as a kid, these are the kind of speakers you used to lay on the floor as close to as possible to hear “your” song as loud as you could because your parents were convinced you were deaf and had made you turn it down. Those speakers. The ones that vibrate a house.

Well I’m grown now. I can turn it up. And trust me we have. Though we just moved into this house only a few months ago, our house has rocked and danced and swayed right along with us. The house loves music too. You can feel it.image

6:47pm

Funny how a song can come on and you can feel like THIS is the perfect song right now. Then a few songs later maybe an old forgotten favorite plays and you go no THIS is the one. This is why I still love the radio. There is a local station out here 103.1 that plays random classic rock and deep cuts with no commercials. I love that I can go online and see what songs they have played  recently and by who. Then when I hear a song I really like but can’t remember who sings it its right there.image

6:52 pm

Remember growing up fighting for what radio station you got to listen to in the car? Yelling different numbers from the back seat driving whoever was tuning it crazy. “No! Try 95.5!” “FM Dad! AM sounds weird!” My favorite memories as a kid are of our road trips from Baker to Las Vegas listening to EIGHT TRACK TAPES!image

7:08 pm

I love music.

I would go to school in the morning, stuffed alongside a few other close friends in a car belonging to the one friend who had a drivers license, trying to fast forward the latest mixed cassette to THE song before we picked up everyone else and got to school.image

7:09pm

Music.

It goes with everything. Cooking brings out my inner Tina Turner. I love her. Do it. Picture me dancing around. It happens. She’s amazing.

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7:10 pm

Music. So universal yet so personal. I can love a song someone else can hate. A pitch or tone that can drive one person crazy can drive another to tears. Songs you played during personal times or events that are now embedded into your DNA can mean nothing to someone else.image

7:10 pm

So here are pictures from yesterday’s storm. Remember we have views from all around so yes, the sky looks remarkably different from one side to the other.

Now, I suggest you sit back, put your feet up, scroll on through and listen to some good music. Enjoy the storm.image

6:59 pm

 

 

 

 

Saguaro

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Saguaro.  Pronounce it Suh war oh.

Saguaro are beautiful, strong, and unique. No two look alike yet when they are drawn or painted they get the generic treatment, cartoon round top and two arms. Like most “desert” souvenir the imagery is cliché and dated. A mighty Saguaro becoming just a cactus on a mug or a key chain…its wrongimage

As a society we have taken plants like roses and mass produced and modified them to the point that the ones at the grocery stores don’t even smell. What is the point of a rose if it doesn’t smell?

Yet this same society kicks and fights and screams about seeing one another as individuals, unique, not lumped into a category. Praised for being special. I guess the saying “You do you” doesn’t apply if you are a plant.image

Quite a few Saguaro live on the property we just bought. Some are definitely over a hundred years old with the others not that far behind. How do I know how old they are? Saguaro get their branches or arms anywhere from 50 to 70 years old. They get flowers on the top around 35 years.image

We are talking about a plant, a cactus, that typically lives 150 to 170 years!

Not sheltered in a green house. Not lightly misted by an ocean breeze. No this plant has seen year upon year of scorching heat in a desert that kills. It has lived without water for periods so long that the ground dried and cracked. Yet time and again men drop dead after only a few hours in the same harsh desert. Season upon season of monsoon winds sand blasting and drying, sun baking and burning. The Saguaro still stands.image

It has had its skin picked and torn to create shelter for the desert birds. Hawks use them as a perch to launch an attack.image

Saguaro live only in the Sonoran Desert and not even all of it because Saguaros don’t grow above 4000 feet typically and they don’t like freezing.

Oh and we grow slow. An inch to an inch and a half in the first EIGHT years. Inch to an inch and a half! This from a plant who will eventually tower over the landscape growing up to 50 feet!image

The fruit that grows on the top each contain about 2000 tiny black seeds. IMG_1416Now fun fact! If a coyote or a cactus wren eat the fruit is gets dispersed throughout the desert when they poop but if a quail or dove eats it then it just gets digested. I’m sure the birds still poop but it doesn’t help grow more Saguaros.image

Saguaro are not endangered but they are protected. I cannot just go out into my yard and dig one up. It’s called the Native Plant Protection Act.

Quite possibly one of the coolest thing I have ever seen is a Crested Saguaro. Go to http://www.nps.gov/sagu/learn/nature/why_crested.htm. I am on a mission to get my own photo of one.

Protect enough space where special things can continue to grow naturally. Truly start to value the real unmodified beauty that’s all around us. Don’t be willing to live in a world that would dismiss such a cool plant by turning them all into two armed cartoons.image

Things that Don’t Belong on a Trail

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I can’t. I just can’t. It used to be cigarette butts but now it’s even worse. It grosses me out to no end to see a nasty discarded travel dental floss thing just tossed onto the ground like it’s just going to magically disappear. Is it someone else’s job to pick it up? Should an animal come eat it?

Help me on this. If you are so concerned about your dental hygiene that you purchase and use these gadgets and obviously you hike or you wouldn’t be on a trail so that means you take care of you, then why can’t you toss the gross thing into the trash where it belongs?

There really isn’t going to be any answer you can give that’s going to make throwing trash on the side of a nature trail ok. It’s not. Stop it.

* photo was taken in the parking area at the start of a local trail.It is not staged