Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our little mother

There were hints. A hollow in the ground near the willow tree, abandoned. The dog taking interest in a previously uninteresting part of the yard. Finally we saw her. We both thought it was a confused dove. You can see her tail behind the fork of the old bicycle.

She found a well-protected spot in the seldom-used old dog run, now storage for stuff -- like the old bike frame. When the tempurature is just right, around 7 pm, she leaves to go eat and drink. We finally saw the eggs.

No dove here! She is a gambel's quail. It will be so exciting to see those little golf-ball sized fluff-balls soon! We'll need a strategy to keep the Wiley Coyote away when they inevitably venture into the main yard.

She was a very busy girl. I count 16. How about you?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Random Post-Fire Pictures

The third of three major canyon 'blowouts' caused by fire storms shooting out the mouth of the canyon, taken about 4 miles from the area.

Not much left but ashes

When wildfire gets too close for comfort....

The corner of this house caught on fire. Debris was thrown out the window (boarded over in photo) by the Hot Shots trying to put out the fire.


Another few minutes and the entire house would have been lost.
Bare wires show where the insulation melted.

Opportunites to update the landscaping!

Go out and try new restaurants because the best fajitas in town won't be available for a while.

And then there were three....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Still Burning

The Monument Fire is now over 20,000 acres and about 15% containment. 4 homes and about 13 other buildings have been destroyed. More than 3000 are threatened. The next evacuation areas will probably more than double the number of threatened structures. Winds will be extreme today, gusting to 50. Could be a tough day.

Quick update on 6/23: Fire is close to 30,000 acres. Winds have been low for two days, so crews have been working to keep it away from residential areas. Sunday a canyon blew out and took out more homes. 61 residences have been lost plus another 18 outbuildings and businesses. Temps and winds will be up today and we'll see what this fire is up to, again. The Rocky Mounain Coordination Team brought in the National Commander. He indicated to local leadership that these are the worst fire conditions he has seen in 30 years of fire fighting. Lucky us. Our summer rains are about 2 weeks away. They are about the only hope of stopping this before it consumes the whole range.

On a brighter note, my sister's home was in the paper and is standing. She lost her master bedroom and bath but the remainder is mostly OK.

She has high praise for the Hot Shots and fire fighters who worked to save her place. She said it looked like they went in through heat-shattered windows to extinguish burning wall studs. In the process, they neatly folded items that survived intact when they needed to move them -- including a bedspread and rug. She choked back tears when she said "They treated it like it was THEIR home, not some stranger's. I am so grateful!"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How NOT to fight a fire

Since my last post, a lot has happened. By Monday morning, someone at NIFC declared victory and recalled the slurry bombing planes to put on another fire. Tuesday, the winds picked up and the fire exploded past the containment. There wasn't enough resource to do anything. 24 homes were lost that evening. Sixteen more since, and another 10 non-residential including a church. Fortunately, it seems that no one was killed, but several people left their homes and saw them burst into flames.

The fire is now approx 9000 acres and uncontained in rugged terrain. We have a slurry bomber back today, but it can't fly at night due to the rugged terrain. The fire is large enough that night vision technology won't work either as it 'blinds' the pilots.

The humidity has been in the single digits most of the week and the temps have reached the high 90's. We've had red flag wind warnings daily. Tomorrow will be gusts to 40, sustained winds at 10 to 15. The next defensible fire line in the rugged mountains is about 5 miles north. Not sure where there is one on the flat lands -- Oh, forgot to mention that the fire jumped the highway -- which constituted most of the early 'containment.' Residents on that side had no pre-evacuation order because the jump was unexpected and the fire was essentially moving at the speed of the wind.

My sister, her husband and their pets are now living with me. As of 6 pm last night, they still have a home. Not sure if they will by 6 pm tonight. I helped another friend move family heirlooms last night. If they are fortunate, they won't need to evacuate until tomorrow. Some of the people who left in a hurry on Tuesday to stay with friends are again in the new 'pre-evacuation' areas. Makes me a little crazy that this could all have been avoided if they left us ONE slurry bomber on Monday. These planes and their skilled crews are what has kept the property loss so low at the Wallow fire, now the largest in Arizona history. To date, we have lost almost five times as many homes and structures than that 400,000+ acre fire. Nice work. Totally preventable if the Feds were doing their jobs, starting with controlling the border.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Walking on Eggshells

Seems like we've been doing this all year, waiting for the summer rains. Big fires to the east, west and north of us in the dry brush and forest lands. Well, look like it's our turn now. This is how it starts.

My sister and her husband, who live a little farther south and closer to the forest, are packing up their stuff. We've offered to come with our truck, but so far, no thanks.

I hear the helicopters and planes flying overhead. Usually the spotters are followed by the 'slurry bombers' which drop wet retardant to slow or stop the fire's path. Luckily the USFS air tanker base is near us -- just a few miles north of this fire, so we get a little more attention early in the process. It is dry enough that this type of fire can move miles each day, and it would not be helpful if the tanker base burns up. Even if it is enlightened self-interest, our residents are appreciative.

In years past I've stood and watched grassland fires move at the speed of the wind, which can be a fire front moving at 10, 15 or 20 miles an hour. It is an awesome and terrifying thing. Our USFS teams are really good. The majority of the fires this year were contained before they hit 2,000 acres. I'm hoping we can be part of that story, not the others that are in the news. Please keep us all, especially those near the Wallow and Horseshoe 2 fires, in your prayers.

UPDATE: As of late evening 11 June, the human-caused grassland and forest fire was 1,400 acres and 48% contained. Containment is likely higher now, as the winds were fairly calm last night. I could see the red glow of the firelines in the mountains from 10 miles away. Local word is that at least 2 homes were lost, and uncertainty about whether all the grazers (cattle, horses and alpacas in the area) were saved.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I am of the generation that was brought up in a relatively traditional home and encountered the emerging feminist movement as I went off to college. My parents were both college-educated westerners, Dad a chemical engineer and Mother in home economics. By the time I went away 'back east' to school, I could use the correct utensil at a formal table setting, model on a runway, make a garment from fabric, cook and bake, fire shotguns and pistols accurately, mount and ride a horse, and a few other things. I never doubted then that I would work outside the home for a while, then settle down and raise a family. Somewhere along the way, that didn't happen.

For a decade, I bought into the nonsense. It is essentially a trap. Any man who doesn't mind that his wife and the mother of his children isn't spending most of her time devoted to him and raising their children to be the very best people they can be -- probably isn't worth marrying. Feminism taught just the opposite -- that men who wanted these things in a partner were just trying to 'keep us down.' Heaven forbid that they may actually want to cherish their wives and children, partner with their spouse to create wonderful children and a home, care for them, provide for them and protect them.

Fast forward thirty+ years. How much better is our country after 3 decades+ of so many children whose mothers entrusted them to strangers for 8+ hours, 5 days a week from the tender ago of six months until they trundled off to college ... or prison? Are we a better educated, more innovative and productive society or are more than 40% of households on food stamps? Are we a generally more charitable or moral society?

Mom and Dad were right. Should have paid more attention. My opinion about the feminist movement is that the only group that gained benefit is the IRS, because now they have more homes with two income earners to tax. I married twice, one divorce which left me single during my prime child-bearing years so never had my own. But I watched my friends and coworkers struggle with home, work and children. The kids were raised by strangers. Some of them were naughty in their teens and later. Many of them did not go on to Ivy League schools like their parents. Some of them were lost and lonely. Same for the parents. Affairs at work, not enough time to devote themselves to their home and their union.

There is nobility in being a HOME-Maker. Learning to live simply enough to live well on one income is an art that American women were good at for a long time. We should consider getting back to the basics, encouraging young women to do so as well. It may not be as exciting in the short term, but I believe it will be much more gratifying in the long term, and better for our communities and our country.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fire Season Continues in the Southwest

For those of you living in Arizona and New Mexico, you know too well that we are having quite a season. I wanted to share a link that I check often this time of year. It is the Southwest Region of the National Interagency Fire Coordination Center. The National Center is in Boise, ID, and saves lives and taxpayer dollars by coordinating responses to wildfires, primarily on public lands. They do an amazing job every year, and especially this one.

For the latest info, you can view this feed called news and notes. I check this when I see smoke to ensure that it has been called in. For more in-depth information, the morning report provides a narrative update. If you aren't sure how close the fires are to you, they have maps. This one is for the wildfires greater than 100 acres in AZ and NM.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


'The Simplicity Primer' by Patrice Lewis has a release date of June 7th, next Tuesday.

I follow her blog and really enjoy her perspectives and the simple yet elegant rural life she documents so well. I have come to love her cows and Lydia, the great Pyrenees who manages them all!

If you check out her website and are interested in ordering the book, by waiting to order it from on the 7th, the volume peak that day will improve the ratings and do some sort of Amazon magic to help the author and book.