I may chat about my books, what I'm writing or reading, or just general thoughts. You may read posts about my cats or just my crazy life in general. Comments are welcome, if anyone wants to interact with me. Maybe we can share war stories, whether it's writing related or just about life in general.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Can I still see the fun in life or am I crazy!


Maybe I’d have better judgment if I didn’t post this story, but some of you may think I’m crazy anyway so I guess we’ll see what the verdict is here.

I have a wild imagination and sometimes I get carried away with things and crazy stories pop into my head.  I also have crazy dreams that I could make stories out of.  Maybe something like that will be for another time.

A couple of months ago I was in a crazy mood and everything seemed funny.  That happens sometimes when my imagination takes over, or perhaps I haven’t had enough sleep.  My hubby wanted to go and exchange a new frying pan he bought for a different one so I went along and was in one of my giddy moods.  Something he said gave me thoughts of a frying pan running behind the car to catch up with us.  I started giggling as this story played out in my head.



 You'll have to picture this pan standing up with legs because I couldn't find one and didn't have time to manipulate it in Photoshop

 
Once I told him about it and kept adding onto my story he gave me a look that said perhaps he should be driving me to the nut hospital instead of the store.  “I don’t know where you come up with all this stuff,” he said.  The more he talked the more I laughed.  I just couldn’t get the picture out of my head of the frying pan chasing us down the street.

I’m even smiling as I write this.  I don’t know why I get such enjoyment out of such a crazy thought that could never happen except in my imagination.


Have any of you ever let your imagination run away like this?  It happens to me probably more than it should.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Amazing Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe Vera


I don’t know how many of you grow these, use them, or have even seen them.  These amazing plants grow wild in tropical climates.  They thrive on humidity, but they can also be grown indoors.  I’ve always had some around all my adult life except the last decade I’ve lived in the desert.  Now I wonder why I don’t have one growing indoors someplace as these have many beneficial uses.  I’m thinking it’s probably because my curious cats would be helping themselves and my plants would be wrecked in no time.

I had them all over when I lived in Texas years ago.  The older plants will grow new ones at the base that can easily be plucked out and potted to start a new plant.  They grow rather quickly too.  I even had a giant one inside when I lived in Alaska.  I was always using them for burns and things like that.  The liquid inside the spiny leaves have a soothing, healing gel.

Nature has provided us with so many things we can use everyday, yet most of us never even think about that.  I’m sure the Indians took advantage of all of nature’s gifts.



 Aloe Vera

 
As I said, the Aloe Vera can be grown indoors with little effort as it needs minimal care.  You need a large pot with good drainage as the aloe plant doesn’t like to sit in water.  It also needs some light so place it near a window.  The leaves should be plump and soft but not mushy or brittle.  Squeezing them is similar to pushing on a firm pillow as they have gel inside so do yield a bit under your touch.

Caring for an aloe is easy.  The thing you can do is over water, so be mindful that the soil dries out between watering.  The plant doesn’t need fertilizer.  It will grow upright and look perky, so if the leaves get droopy it probably needs more sun.  On the other hand, if the leaves turn brown it’s getting too much sun.  You may also need to rotate the plant to keep it in good shape as it will grow toward the sunlight.  The plant doesn’t like frost or snow.  If you live in those climates, it must be kept indoors if you want it to stay alive.  If the leaves become thin or limp, you’re probably not watering enough because the plant is using its own gel to keep itself hydrated.  However, usually over watering is more of an issue than under watering.



 Close up of the spines on the outside of the leaves

 
Few pests will attack the Aloe Vera plant, but it is subject to mealy bugs, scale and fungus.  I’ve never had a plant that had any issues with this stuff.  However, if this happens to you, the fungus is easy to control because if that shows up, you’re probably over watering.  But I think you’d know this already if the plant wasn’t a perky as a healthy plant.  Mealy bugs and scale, small tan or brown bugs, will suck the life from the aloe leaves.  If this happens a pesticide may need to be applied.  I’d take care to find a “friendly” one if you have this issue.

When you harvest leaves to use, do so from the bottom and take them off as close to the plant as possible, being careful not to disturb the roots or any “babies” at the base.  I have broken off the tip of a leaf to use for burns and the plant will heal itself at the end, but after awhile, if you keep doing this, your plant won’t look like a showpiece anymore.  Be careful of the spikes on the leaves as they can puncture you and/or your clothing.  Remember, the Aloe Vera is similar to a cactus, as it likes to dry out and it has spines, but is a succulent and is actually about 95 % water.

You’re interested in the gooey inside gel of the leaves for their medicinal properties.  Avoid the dark green outer leaf of the aloe as it contains a harsh laxative.




Looking inside the gel inside of an Aloe Vera leaf.


Today we see aloe based products in all the health food stores.  Not only is it good for skin irritations and burns, but it’s also digestible and can help with digestion and your immune system and is loaded with anti-oxidants.  Aloe will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but it’s best to pick and use when it’s fresh.  Some people put it in smoothies because the gel is slightly bitter.  If you’re buying this to eat make sure to do your homework as to all the ingredients in the product before you eat it.

As a closing note, the Aloe Vera plant is used for medicinal properties in many countries.  Today we find Aloe Vera in makeup, moisturizers, lotions, soap, sunscreen, and shampoo, as well as many other products.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Gutsy and Elusive Mockingbird

Mockingbird at water pan

As I’ve told everyone before, we have lots of wildlife and birds here.  Well we have one gutsy mockingbird that’s taken to hanging out in the backyard everyday.  He loves to torment the other birds and the snakes that come by for a drink.  Maybe he’s just bored, or maybe this is what mockingbirds do. 



 The snake had enough and  is going back to the desert

This snake came to drink from the water pan on the patio a couple of weeks ago and this bird wouldn’t leave it alone.  He hopped and flew at the snake until it finally slithered away back to the desert.  I got a pic of the snake but, like the title says, this bird is also elusive.  I’ve been trying to get shots of him daily and most of it is a waste of time as far as photos go.  Watching him is a whole other matter.  I love his chirping and crazy maneuvers.



 Mockingbird at birdbath

This little guy is so pretty with his showy white tail feathers.  He gets in the birdbath too and goes to town splashing away.  I haven’t been able to get a pic of that yet either.  The thing is he doesn’t stay put for long in one place.

Mockingbird

He torments the other birds too and is so much bigger that maybe he intimidates them when they come to the birdbath or the water dish.  I think this guy needs something to do besides flying from tree to tree and making the rounds of the nearby desert bushes.  I’m still trying for decent photos.  If I get any, I’ll post them later.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Got Ink?


I do know.  And this is about my experience with getting a tattoo, something I’ve wanted to do about fifty years now.  This was on my bucket list with a few other things that I’m not sure I’ll get to, but we’ll see as time goes on.

Now, getting a tattoo isn’t an awful experience for those of you who think it might be.  This wasn’t ever a fear for me, although I’m not that fond of needles.  My issue was obtaining approval, which wouldn’t have been needed if I’d done this year’s ago.  None of that is important now.

The finished tattoo.  I love it!

My new tattoo was my birthday present this year.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  It was painless and the guy I used is such an artist.  Much research went into the best place to go in town though.  I would recommend this place highly.

When hubby gave me the gift certificate I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I was ready to get out of the house and do it that day.  Perhaps I thought this opportunity would vanish if I didn’t act as soon as possible.  So I did go to the place and introduce myself and told them what I wanted.  They set the appointment for the next day.  I was so excited.

My neighbor went with me because she wanted to see it done and didn’t have anything else to do that day.  I had to lie on a massage type table on my stomach after the guy showed me the design he’d drawn up and we decided on colors.  He uses the color wheel so everything matches in complimentary hues.  Then of course placement as to where on my shoulder I wanted it was discussed.  My neighbor gave her input too, which I was thankful for.  After all, this was so important to me and was finally happening after all these years.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First (after my approval) they make a copy of the design on paper that actually transfers the artwork to your skin.  The paper is then peeled off and the image is there, as if it’s drawn on paper.  I guess this is similar to putting decals on a T-shirt.



 This is the decal the artist will follow
 
The tattoo artist then took fresh needles out and poured all the ink colors into tiny cups.  He washed his hands several times during the procedure and then gloved up again.  This is a very sanitary place, but they have to pass a health inspection, he told me.
The tattoo artist filling up the ink cups



 These are the cups ready to go
 
 Another shot of the ink with the needles above the tiny cups

Now this whole procedure took three hours to do from start to finish.  I almost fell asleep on the table, no kidding.  It felt like he was drawing on my skin as he inked in the design.  It took a long time to do the black.  The color was done with four-needles-in-one.  That part just felt like scratching as if you had an itch and you scratched it.  None of it hurt.  These needles are very tiny.



 Ben working on my tattoo
 
The worst part of the whole thing was getting a crick in my neck from lying there in one spot for three hours.  I also got a cramp in my leg so moved it around a bit and that went away.



 Drawing the outline came first
 
When the artwork was finished, I could get up and stretch.  He wrapped my shoulder in saran wrap and told me to leave that on for four or five hours.  I ended up leaving it on eight hours before I took it off and washed and doctored it.

Wrapped in saran wrap

A lot of black ink washes off on the first washing.  That’s the excess ink along with plasma that comes to the surface.  He said that was normal and it would take two-four weeks to completely heal.

As I’m writing this, I’m at the end of week two and it’s still peeling because a tattoo is similar to sunburn.  By the time you read this I’ll be at the end of week three.

Anyway, so much for my tattoo story.  I love it and have had it three weeks now and am following instructions that Ben gave me.  I have to wash it four times a day with anti-bacterial soap, air dry and then apply a thin layer of aquafor for four weeks.  Black ink did get on my pillow case the first week because of the aquafor and probably more excess plasma, but it washed right out and it’s not doing that anymore.  It’s more in the itchy stage now. 

If anyone out there decides to get a tattoo, don’t scratch it so you won’t ruin it and do your homework so you go to a reputable place.

Now I have to tell you a funny story because my neighbor laughed all the way home about this.  A young kid came in while I was there (you have to be eighteen to enter the place) so we think possibly he just had his birthday.  He said he lived with his parents and told them he went to the gym but actually came there for his first tattoo.  He decided on a pair of cowboy boots with a snake twined around them.  Of course this kid thought he was so macho but he kept saying “Please can we take a break.  I need a soda.  This is really painful.”  And I was on the next table in the next cubicle, saying “Wow, this doesn’t hurt a bit.  I could fall asleep.”

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lizard Love



We have loads of lizards around here this year.  They are everywhere and love this heat.  It never seems to get too hot for them.  Hanging out by the plants is usually how they spend their days.  I imagine there are plenty of bugs to catch there. 



 A lizard crawling across the patio
 
Watching them is fascinating.  They are really aggressive when it comes to hunting for food.  But I’ve noticed a lot of animals in the desert are that way.  I imagine food is in short supply sometimes so you have to make sure you get a meal if you spot one. 

Two lizards hanging out on our block wall

The lizards will actually chase competitors away from their hunting spot.  They can really run if they want to.  They have to stop and “pump” themselves up every-so-often, but then they take off at a fast run again.



 A lizard on the house
 
It’s not uncommon to go out and count ten of them around the house, on the house, or the wall that surrounds our property.  Hubby caught these two getting snuggly so I imagine we’ll have more lizards added to the group pretty soon. 




 You can hardly see them in the rocks in the second photo

There’s a lot of mating going on.  Raven wanted outside the door the other day when he spied two lizards chasing each other around in a courtship ritual.  I didn’t get a pic of that because I would have scared them off if I went out on the patio.

Here's one hanging out on the storage shed on the patio

Such is life in the desert.  It keeps the cats amused to watch all the creatures passing by, or hanging out under the patio shade.  I guess 110 in the shade is better than being out in the sun.  Besides what choice do these poor creatures have?  I feel sorry for them having to put up with the extreme conditions of desert living.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

More Progress in the Neighborhood


We live on a street with several vacant lots and this past month workers are busy clearing two of them for new homes.  So we’ll be getting new neighbors probably sometime before Christmas.  They’ve been working most of the weekdays on the clearing and leveling of the lots.  Dump trucks have been busy bringing in loads of dirt that is compacted for the foundation. No building has actually started yet.  Usually it takes them about six months to build a house here.


A water truck on the lot closest to us
 
A view of the lot from the street corner
 
 This is the lot up the street.  A block wall is now going up there.
 

One lot is up at the beginning of our street about half a mile away.  The other is on a corner and is a lot closer to us.  We used to own this corner lot several years ago but sold it before the economy took a down turn.  It’s been sitting vacant all this time.  It will be exciting to see what kind of house they build there.  I’ll be keeping up with this as time goes along.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Happy Fourth of July



I hope everyone has a most enjoyable day with family and friends.  It’s far too hot to barbecue here.  After Memorial Day that’s usually out until fall rolls around.  No one hangs around outside much in the triple digit heat.  Who can blame them?

At least the store will be closed today so we’ll probably be cooking hamburgers indoors and watching fireworks later on once it cools off to the upper nineties.  We can see them from our patio all around the horizon.  I’m sure some crazy kids will climb the bluff out in the desert and set some off too like they do every year.  I may even practice getting some more fireworks shots with my camera.  I’m not good at it and the only other time to do it around here is for New Years and that’s way too cold for me.

Everyone knows how I delight in dressing up my cats for the holidays.  The Fourth is no exception.  Of course, Raven is the only one that tolerates me.  Sometimes Tootie will, but Koki wants to get as far from me as possible if I try to put a hat on her.

I made my trip to the dollar store a couple of weeks ago to see what I could find that would be suitable material for a cat hat.  How I wish they made something “cat size,” but since they don’t it’s always a challenge.  However, I’m not one to back away from a creative challenge, so I put my thinking cap on and dive in.

I’m glad Raven doesn’t mind being my guinea pig. 

Raven ready to celebrate the Fourth in style


Happy Fourth of July everyone.  Be safe out there and remember why we celebrate this holiday.