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, August 30, 2015

How much is it worth?

Okay guys, I shouldn’t even admit this, but I bought this dress using my change.  A lot of my change. 

I stumbled upon this dress a month ago when I was out looking for black pants for my upcoming job.  I was having no luck at all.  As I was driving down the street contemplating what to do on the pants issue, I spotted my friend’s car across the street from one of the thrift stores in town.  This gal loves to shop at the thrift stores and seems to find the nicest stuff in those places.  Sometimes she turns the items by putting them on consignment at another store in town and actually making a decent profit.

It’s no wonder she knows so many people all over town.  I don’t have the time to do this sort of thing, but I stopped to run in and surprise her.  I think I was the last person she was expecting to see because she looked shocked when I came in the door.

She suggested I look in the thrift store for pants and had even called me a few days earlier wanting me to meet her at a different thrift store because she found some black pants for me.  That didn’t work out, but I looked around anyway and didn’t find anything.  She suggested I go down the street to a newer consignment place that opened up a few months ago.

I didn’t find any black pants there in my size either, but I did spot this dress hanging up on the back wall.  I couldn’t pass up trying it on.  Of course, it fit perfect because I had little cash on me.  I ended up giving the older woman behind the counter a few dollar bills and counted out about $10 in change.  She grinned the whole time.  I doubt she ever had a sale like that one.

The dress was displayed with a necklace that matched it perfectly. I couldn’t afford that and was hoping it would still be there in a month after I had more cash. 

I guess it was meant to be because I went in there last Wednesday and the necklace was waiting for me.  I called her beforehand to make sure it was still there.  Yes, she remembered me from all that change I gave her last month.  She was happy to see me and we had a quite a chat about several different subjects.

I’ve done a few crazy things in my life lately, so I’m unforgettable in a couple of places in town.  So far, that’s been a good thing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A day in court

Yesterday was a new adventure for me.  It was also my first time in the new courthouse here.  I met a friend there for a hearing on spousal support in her divorce proceedings.  There were three of us gals waiting to testify on her behalf.  We all sat together in a pew behind the railing.  As it turned out that wasn’t necessary, but we were her support group, so it was nice to be there.  I was a bit nervous about the whole thing anyway and not feeling like me so it was just as well that her lawyer took care of the whole thing.

The new courthouse is a beautiful three-story building with sweeping staircases and ornate railings.  These days it’s similar to going through TSA at the airport, having to walk through a scanner and put your handbag, keys, sunglasses, etc into a tub to be scanned.  They didn’t have all that the last time I was in a courthouse for something, but that was years ago and times have changed.

I did set off the scanner but the officers said it was only my hot pink sandals and they could tell I wasn’t smuggling anything in there. Hmmm...

Once in the courtroom, it was like a scene you’d see on TV with two tables set up for each plaintiff and their lawyers.  But I found it unusual that each table contained a computer.  There was no jury, just the judge up on his high perch behind a dark, carved desk.

We couldn’t hear the proceedings very well once they swore in the plaintiffs.  The lawyers did most of the talking, never leaving their places at the table except to hand over documents to the bailiff who kept his eye on the three of us.  Unfortunately, the microphones were at table level and the lawyers stood.  On occasion, they asked their clients questions, but for the most part did all the talking for them.  This would speed things up, they said.

We could only snatch bits and pieces over the next two and a half hours.  Once closing statements were made and the judge made his ruling, we were free to go.  My friend’s lawyer ushered us into a small room outside the courtroom and we all introduced ourselves and had a nice chat.  I’m extremely glad he was more prepared than the other guy.

Then it was off for a quick lunch where the four of us chatted about the verdict over soup and salad.

I think my friend came out on top, but we’ll see if her soon-to-be-ex complies with the judges orders. 

I was glad to get home, as I’ve felt off-color since going on this new medication for osteoporosis.  I can’t function on that stuff and won’t take anymore of it.  More on how that goes later.  I’m still waiting for a call from my doctor.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sometimes endurance is important

That’s certainly been the case with me the last week.  The A/C went out in my car and I’ve been driving around in 109-degree heat.

The A/C seemed to be working fine and then all of a sudden it was blowing hot air, as if I had the heater on.  I had it recharged but three days later, it was back to the hot air again.  I had several stops to make, so I just rolled down the front windows.  It was hot outside but at least I had more air moving.  I probably should have taken a selfie to post here, but once I arrived home, believe me it wasn’t a pretty sight.  I think I could wring water out of my clothes and my face was beat red, hair all askew.  At one point, I thought I’d pass out, but I made it.

 My car
It occurred to me it might be time for a new car, but I’m having the A/C hose fixed.  It turns out it has a leak, an expensive leak, but fixable.  I realize I can’t drive my 1998 Cadillac Seville forever, but maybe a bit longer.  I love this car.

I may actually be getting a job after twenty-five years and my mission was to find black pants, which was a lot harder than it sounds.  But I accomplished my mission.  I guess the stubbornness I inherited from my daddy helped to keep me out roaming about town in those conditions.

I even got a compliment on my car and myself earlier in the day before I became a limp sweaty rag.  That feels good at my age.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Look who happened by

Living in the desert the way we do, one can get up close and personal with the critters around here and see things you may not normally see, especially if you’re an urban dweller.  I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I haven’t taken at least a dozen pictures, many times its way more than that.

I thought I’d share a couple more desert inhabitants with you. 

 Coming into the yard from the desert
This is a jackrabbit.  We had them in the fields in Texas too, but we never saw one this close.  These guys come in the front yard all the time.  They munch on what’s left of my lawn, or find shade under the trees.

 Finding a spot under a tree

Preparing to stay a while
This looks like a young one.  They can’t get in the backyard because the whole area is walled and we have “poodle pickets” in the gates.  The smaller rabbits can still squeeze through around the hinges, or come in through the Y-block we have installed.  But that block is a life saver during rainy season.  Any excess water drains down the natural riverbed, we worked into the landscaping, and out into the desert.  Following the natural slope of the land is necessary if you live in the desert where possible flooding could occur.

 Desert toad on my patio
This next guy has to stay out of the heat, so these toads are nocturnal.  They can come out after sunset, but it’s usually later at night that I spot one or two on the patio.  They eat bugs and use the water dish as their private pool.  They’ll stay in there an hour at a time soaking up the water.  These frogs will dry up if they’re caught out in the sun.  Desert toads will spend most of their time in underground boroughs, or they’ll find a sanctuary under rocks.

I have neighbors who actually build toad houses for them.  The frogs have been known to move in and stay there for years, if they like it.  I’ve thought of doing this too because these toads are good for the environment, as they keep the bugs at bay.

Desert toad on my patio

You can make a toad house out of rocks, or an old terra cotta pot.  The important thing is to remember to leave the opening in a sheltered area (away from people and weather).  The “house” needs to be big enough for the frog to crawl in and out of comfortably.  It’s good to leave the bottom dirt, so digging a small indentation in the earth is ideal.  If using a terra cotta pot, cut it in half and then sink it into the sandy soil.  If this isn’t possible, bury part of the pot so only half of it is exposed.

If anyone is interested in building a toad house for your garden, click here for more information and instructions.

Okay, after writing this post to schedule, I got inspired and decided to go in search of the broken terra cotta pot we had lying around.  My husband more than likely threw it away because I couldn’t find it.  I keep more than he does, always looking at some discarded item as a possible craft project for later.

I was lucky enough to find a broken water pan so I decided to use that.  The problem I faced was the fact it was too shallow.  The red dirt here is hard to dig out, so I used some broken cement blocks and rocks as risers to lift the water pan up.  I still had to dig down some to make a nice damp spot for the frog to reside.

The next thing to do was deciding where to put the “house.”  Near a source of water is ideal, so my choice was under a honeysuckle vine that grows next to a wall and is about eight feet away from the water dish on my patio.  This spot is shielded by the wall and the vine and doesn’t face north.  In fact, it’s in the shade most of the time and is protected from winter snow and intense summer heat.  Perfect.

 My toad house
So I got on my garden gloves, took my knee pad and a small garden shovel and went to work.  It isn’t the coolest day in the world at 97 degrees here, making me thankful when the sun went behind a cloud for a moment or two.

As I worked, I heard the bells of the wind chime above my head bringing thoughts of my sister-in-law who would love to be here with me doing this.  She loved all animals and creatures.

My toad house

I robbed a few rocks from the riverbed in my backyard to put on top of my creation and on the sides so the entrance isn’t too exposed.  Now we’ll see if a frog finds it.  That’s the purpose, right?  I know they come to my patio all the time and go around the side of the house and under the gate to the front yard.  This house is just inside the gate, so they will have to pass it on their night excursions. 

 My toad house
Today is August 10 and I’m scheduling this to post on August 19.  I’ll let you know if I have a resident frog by then.  Stay tuned.

For me, it’s off to the shower now that I’m a sweaty pig.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The things we do to save a tree

Locust tree - Sunni's photos

Sometimes I wonder why we bother.  The desert is such a harsh place, but it’s nice to have some shade.  This poor tree has a broken stake that we need to replace, but we don’t have many supplies around here, as we did when we lived in CA.  We had a scrap pile that I really miss.  I could always find something to do a quick repair if I needed to.

 My temporary fix - Sunni's photos
The stake on this tree broke down below ground level when my husband was in OR, so I stacked up blocks and big rocks as a temporary solution.   I managed to rob these items from other places in the yard.  Since then the stake broke in another place and was doing this tree no good at all.  Wouldn’t you know, we’d get a windy rainstorm and had to go out in that in order to secure this tree so it wouldn’t snap off. 

Sunni's photos

We now have it tied in three places to keep it steady until we can get to the nursery to get a proper stake.  We used a rope and the nearby rocks and trees as tying places.  We needed to protect this tree in several directions because of the wind, so had no choice but to use an extension cord as our third “rope.”  Right now, it’s a hazard to walk around out in the yard in the dark.  I did that once and walked right into a rope I couldn’t see and forgot was there.  My boney behind landed on the rocks.  Luckily, I didn’t break anything.  Of course, the wind was blowing then too and my hair was in my face, which didn’t help matters.

I learned to tie my hair up before heading into the wind and to carry a flashlight providing I don’t need both hands to do a job.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The cleanest bird in town

Sunni's photos

This hawk comes to the birdbath daily around dinnertime.  Either he’s obsessed with cleanliness or he’s cooling off, or both.  He hangs out here, takes a spin around the desert, and comes back and hops in the birdbath again.  He’ll hang out here an hour or so each day.  Of course, this has discouraged the other birds, everybody that is except the hummingbirds, which aren’t afraid of him and will buzz his head while he’s cooling his behind.

 Sunni's photos
The other birds are here now earlier in the day.

I’ve spent hours watching this guy and have taken over a hundred pics of him and his routine.  I kept trying to get some bathing shots and finally did.  I’m usually at the sink washing dishes or cooking dinner.  I never catch him in the act because he’s usually already wet.

 Sunni's photos

I took all these pics through the kitchen window.  To my surprise, they turned out well considering the glass between this raptor and me.  But I knew if I went out on the patio, he’d fly off and I’d never get a photo.  The only time that’s worked for me was about two years ago when a monster-sized one of these birds landed in the birdbath.  It wasn’t afraid of me at all and let me get within about two feet of him with my camera before he flew off.  This bird is much smaller and he looks young and not yet full size to me.

Sunni's photos

The birdbath is about fifteen feet from my kitchen window, so I zoomed in as much as I dared.  Have you seen a bird of prey this close?

Sunni's photos

Sunday, August 9, 2015


I have more wildlife to share with everyone today, as well as a beautiful sunrise.  We don’t get many of these orange ones in the mornings.  This color is usually reserved for sunsets around here.

Sunrise in the desert

We’ve had a bird of prey visiting us almost daily so he can use the birdbath.  I’m usually washing dishes when he makes his appearance, so I was lucky to get these shots so far.  I’m still hoping to get one of him splashing in the water.  I know he does because he’s all wet and displaces half the water out of the birdbath.

He usually hangs out a while, but you have to be so fast to get a good shot when it comes to birds.

Sparrow feeding her baby

I was lucky to get this one too of a sparrow feeding her chick.  I spotted the youngster on the table and grabbed my camera to wait for her to come back.

And here's more quail.

Of course, the orioles are still steady at it and drain the hummingbird feeder in a week.  This giant feeder holds six cups of nectar.  The poor hummers compete for their time to drink the sweet nectar.  I’ve started making extra and keep it in bottles in the fridge.  We have five females on there daily.  These gals hang out in the trees all day and frolic around chasing each other and feeding.  The males are more elusive and it’s harder to get a shot of them.

I never get tired of watching the birds and the cats don’t either.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Which is the worst of the necessary evils?

This week family members and friends will be going through some medical procedures.  Which would you pick and why, if you had to pick something from the following list?

Carotid artery surgery


Root canal

I’m just curious and surprised this stuff landed on the same day.  Along with this, someone will be celebrating a birthday and another will be in divorce court in an ugly divorce battle.  I guess Aug 4 will be marked on the calendar this year.

All these things remind me how life goes on and there’s stuff like this happening everyday to people across the globe, yet it’s things we don’t often think about when it’s not in our own backyard.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Tasty and Healthy Treat

Did you know that hummus has been around since the thirteenth century?  I sure didn’t, but I did know it’s a staple Mediterranean food. 

Basic hummus and pita bread - photo courtesy of Getty images

For those of you who don’t know what hummus is, its main ingredient is garbanzo beans, or chickpeas.  Any beans are a great source of protein and contain cancer-fighting ingredients like protease inhibitors, saponins, and phytic acid, which guard the body’s cells.  Beans can also lower cholesterol.  They can help with weight loss too unless we’re talking about baked beans, which have a lot of added sugar.

 This is red roasted pepper hummus from Costco

It’s easy to make hummus at home, but I really like the one they have at Costco by Pita Pal.  It’s organic and only cost about $5-$6 for a decent size tub.  The red pepper hummus is fantastic, but the company also makes regular hummus.  Pair this up with Greek flat bread, pita bread, or a plate of veggies to use for dipping and you have quite a tasty snack or light meal.  Sometimes I get together with my neighbor from across the street and we feast on this and have a glass of wine while we chat.

Warm up pita bread to use for dipping

Basic Hummus Recipe

1 seven-ounce can of chickpeas (or use garbanzo beans.)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
3 and ½ fluid ounces of tahini (optional) (recipe below)
Salt to taste
Olive oil for drizzling

Drain and rinse chickpeas or beans
Add lemon juice, crushed garlic, cumin, 4 tablespoons of water and tahini, if desired.  Place all this into a food processor, or mash by hand in a mortar and pestle or on a big plate until soft and creamy.

Scoop mixture into a bowl or onto a serving plate.  Add additional lemon juice, garlic, salt and cumin to taste.  Smooth the top with a spoon and sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with olive oil. 

Serve with warm pita bread (you may heat in the microwave and cut into wedges), crackers, breadsticks, or sliced up veggies.

Note this can be changed up according to your taste.  If you like spicy, add some red peeper flakes or a grilled chipotle pepper, chopped fine, to the food processor.  You could also add cilantro, olives, and other things you enjoy.  Hummus is healthy and versatile.

Tahini sauce (sesame seed paste) is thinner and is generally used in sandwiches as a spread, a marinade, or as a dip.  This sauce will keep in the fridge for about two weeks if you place it in an airtight container.

Tahini Sauce - pic from About.com

Tahini Sauce Recipe

1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped (optional)
NOTE:  If you’re not a garlic lover, you might want to start out with 2 cloves of garlic

Add garlic, tahini and salt to food processor, or use the mortar and pestle.  Mix.
Remove to a bowl and add olive oil and lemon juice.  If mixture is too thick, add a teaspoon of warm water until you reach the desired consistency.  Mix in parsley, if desired.  Use immediately or refrigerate.