Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday tangents

We now each take off on our own tangents each Tuesday.  The blog author heads off to the Tuesday Morning Target Shoot which begins at 9 AM.  Now, Susun has her own tangent to travel--The Tuesday Trek.  Susun's Dear Friend Phyllis (above left)is the organizer of a hike every Tuesday morning.

Yesterday, Susun joined Phyllis and her friends: Sandy (left) and Joan.  The foursome enjoyed a six mile, two hour hike to the end of Boynton Canyon and back.  Boynton easily ranks as one of the most special of Sedona's many special places to hike.  At various times over the past 25 years, Boynton has received copious coverage as an "official vortex," a "power spot," a "sacred place" and is even thought by some to be connected by secret underground "power lines" to Stonehedge and other purported global power spots.  It's a fact that The Yavapai-Apache Nation considers Boynton one of its most special sacred places.  Seekers of both enlightenment, Red Rock Beauty and just plain old simple solitude often co-mingle on the popular Boynton Canyon Trail.

The mouth of the canyon is covered by the world-class Enchantment Resort.

A room there will set you back only about $300-400 a night depending on amenities.  Sunday brunch is relatively affordable at maybe $100 "out the door" for a couple.  Having such a lah-dee-dah resort sitting smack in the mouth of the Canyon makes for an interesting juxtaposition of metaphors on this hike.  Susun had a really fun time and was chattering about the hike throughout our fine Happy Hour Campfire last night.  Imagine, the blog author wore a t-shirt at the fire until well after sundown when the evening chill finally forced him to don a jacket.  It's been unseasonably warm here for the past few days so the ladies really had optimal conditions for their Tuesday Trek.

The Tuesday Target Shoot was fun as always.  Afterwards we traveled over to Cottonwood to get a fresh chain for the chain saw.  Naturally, we couldn't resist shopping at a lot of other stores, too.  Monday we made great progress in our annual Weed Wars.  Every tumbleweed was burned to ash.  Most of the prickly nightshades are gone.  We fully expect to have the grounds completely polished by the end of today.  It's going to be a Major Grunt Day for sure but that's the only way we are able to get it back in shape.  It's just part of being a weed wrangler here at Second Chance Ranch.

There's been no progress on the earth oven project but we did at least roast up another batch of green chiles on the Patio Caddie last night.  They sure will liven up the scrambled eggs this morning.

Have a great day and Many Cheers!  jp

PS--After writing the morning blog post, we began perusing online editions of local newspapers.  Much to our delight, Ace Reporter Steve Ayers did a fine piece on Bill Cowan's first book.  Congratulations, Bill!  Click here to read the article about Bill's book.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hillbilly Earth Oven

This earth oven project is evolving into.....well, we're not quite sure WHAT it is evolving into.  All we really know is that we put together a genuine hillbilly, redneck prototype yesterday that failed miserably to do anything other than look very ugly.  If this is what we're going to get as a result of the earth oven project, um...well....maybe we just oughta go look at a train wreck.

We definitely realize there are much easier ways to bake things.  First, there's the propane oven inside the house.  You turn a dial, the oven comes on and, poof, you can bake whatever you want without breaking a sweat.  Next, there's a whole fleet of sturdy, dependable dutch ovens sitting in our shed.  All you do is light coals, insert ingredients into the cast iron apparatus and, poof, you can bake or roast almost anything.  Next, as LBRs know, we perfected baking in the Patio Caddie grill last year.  That little puppy is the perfect outdoor baking machine.  Fire it up, insert whatever you want baked and, poof, there you have it.

So, why the heck are we tilting at the windmills of an earth oven?  That's a very good question and one that was exposed for all its warts yesterday.  We wish we could tell you we had a genuine, honest, logical reason as to why we are building an earth oven when so many other practical, easy, effective and cost efficient making methods are available to us.  Unfortunately, we do not have a good answer to the question.

All we know is that we are doggedly plodding along on our earth oven project, suffering through barely muffled laughing noises from our neighbors and friends, thinking all the while that we are on the earth oven path to perfection.  This earth oven project could easily qualify for one of the dumbest, most useless and expensive projects we've ever dared to undertake.  Perhaps that is its primary purpose--to fully illustrate the folly of tackling such a large scale project without having any real clue as to the "whys & wherefores" hidden within.

Think about this for a minute.  It was only yesterday evening after the failed cornbread experiment that we stood around staring at this hillbilly monstrosity and asked the question, "What DO we really want to bake in this thing?"  Now, don't you suppose we coulda, shoulda, mighta, oughta have asked that question like more than a year ago when this odd ball project actually got underway?  Yeah, that would have been a great idea.  No one in their right mind actually begins a project like this but then again, who has ever said we are in our right mind, anyway?  It doesn't matter, we are going to build an earth oven come heck or high water.  It's too late to back down. It's too late to pull this one out of the fire. It's too late to admit defeat, even though defeat stared us squarely in the face yesterday.  No, to borrow a line from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, "We won't back down!"

What do you suppose is next?  Ah, that's right.  We're going to take the whole thing apart and start all over from scratch again.  You know what they say, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time."  With this earth oven project, Redneck Comedian Jeff Foxworthy would say, "Here's your sign."

One thing we do know for sure, hillbillies every where would be darned proud of us for constructing yesterday's oven. Oh, well, onward and upward, eh?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2CR Headline News

What if we wrote a blog post the same way CNN Headline News spins the daily affairs of our world?  Here's how it might look at Second Chance Ranch (2CR):

Susun's home. Little Yonni Makes Marksman. Bea Richmond died. Earth Oven Project advances. Sue Kocis checks in.  Thanksgiving recap. Black Friday wrapup. Weather stays nice. Susun shows album. Campfire burns bright.

OK, well that about covers it. End of stories.  Nah, just kidding.  You know me.  A morning isn't complete without at least a few hundreds words.  So, here we go.

Susun had a truly wonderful time in San Diego. She was able to get her own Inner Grand Kind On.  Since Susun is (and will always be) a Kid-At-Heart, she's really in her element when playing with Gage and Van.  Her flight arrived precisely on time and Susun merrily bubbled over with stories and giggles about her trip.  She was a veritable font of fun all the way home and all the way until sleepy time.  Ponce De Leon wandered around Florida looking for the fabled Fountain of Youth.  He probably should have simply stayed home with his grand kids.  For Susun, those two tykes are the true ticket to youthful joy.  There's more spring in her step, more radiance from her smile, more twinkle in her eyes and more shine to her Spirit.  Everyone who knows Susun knew she really needed a "Grand Kid Fix" and the results are in.  The Grand Kid Fix worked its predictable miracle and Susun is a mile high.  Welcome Home, Sweetie!

This past week has been all about pistol practice for Little Yonni.  Yesterday was Show Time. The Phoenix Rod & Gun Club conducted their monthly IDPA Classifier Match at the South Mountain range.  The Classifier is a standard match by which all IDPA members are sorted out according to skill level.  It is the goal of all stalwart IDPA members to be classified at or above the Marksman level.  It's no small feat to make the cut for that category.  We shot the Bonomo Custom 1911 yesterday--a big ol' classic .45 caliber automatic pistol true to every detail of its 100-year old design.  A .45 is the largest caliber that's allowed in pistol competition and it's a real handful.  We spent 4 hours involved in the match yesterday and were delighted to learn we made the IDPA Marksman level.  We had to shoot the match is less than 195 seconds and our total time was 174.73 seconds.  Competitive pistol shooting is definitely an obscure hobby and those 174.73 seconds surely don't sound like much of anything at all.  However, to one who dotes on these things, each of those seconds lives much larger in real life than a non-shooter can imagine.  We are Happy Campers.

Every Human Being is One-of-A-Kind.  Some human's uniqueness stand out like a beacon in the night.  Such was Bea Richmond.  I don't know how old she was when she died this weekend.  She always seemed the same age to me over the last 25-30 years that our paths crossed often.  She was the quintessential spinster school marm who just happened to travel the world over and make a meaningful difference is virtually countless ways in her communities-of-interest.  Goatherder taught with Bea up in Tuba City and he will doubtless have something to say about her as well.  Bea and I shared several common interests and goals but most especially a love and care for the Verde River.  We both had a kind of mutual admiration society for each other--each of us always dancing to the beat of our own drummers. Bea was the type of person who's sheer personality could steer almost any situation into a positive purpose.  If ever there was someone who could actually justify have the "NO FEAR" sticker on their vehicle, it would have been Bea.  Bea was a cross between The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the Energizer Bunny and Elmer Fudd with a hint of Margaret Thatcher thrown in now and then.  I last saw Bea the day after we arrived here this season.  Our ships passed in the night in the Basha's grocery in Camp Verde.  We didn't get a chance to speak to each other.  I was talking to Wes when she glided by with all her elderly dignity.  I have no doubt that Bea will be calling Saint Peter to task as she makes critical comments about the general upkeep and maintenance of the Pearly Gates.  A bit of Heavenly litter here, a bit of peeling paint there and pretty soon, Bea will goad Ol' Saint Pete into to having the place spic, span and spiff once again.  Our favorite Ace Report, Steve Ayers, penned a really nice tribute to Bea in today's edition of the Camp Verde Bugle. It's the very first memorial I've ever read where the author takes pride in calling someone a Curmudgeon.  (You can click here to read it.) Yea, verily, Bea worn the Curmudgeon badge with pride and elevated this distinction to a level of high honor.  She will be missed but also remembered forever as a shining example of The Power of One.  Bye, Bye, Bea!

We're finally reaching critical mass on the Earth Oven Project.  Yep, we might even have this new toy up and running this week.  There's absolutely no doubt the project will be complete by year's end.  Our breakthrough took place during one of those "Ah, Ha!" moments in the middle of a nearly sleepless night this week as we lay awake worrying about the upcoming pistol match.  While we were in Mesa during the last couple of days we bought two big steel plates.  One will be the floor of the oven chamber and the other will be the ceiling (AKA: top) of the heat chamber.  This will allow us to construct a very tidy geometric oven chamber and also eliminate the prospect of earth particles falling into our food and costing us 1000's of dollars in dental bills.  Things are going to move very quickly on this project henceforth.  Earth oven pizza, here we come!

Dear Friend Sue Kocis sent us an email yesterday.  She is undergoing a grueling regimen of radiation, shots and 24 hour chemo over the next few weeks.  Sue's Spirit is one of those Bright, Shiny Stars we look up to in the Sky of Life.  Sue has had such a huge and giant impact on our lives since we met in January 2002.  It's impossible to imagine how our lives would have turned out if we hadn't met Sue.  Sue is doing really well in her treatments.  Her positive attitude is relentless.  She and her beloved dog, Mira, walked six miles in under two hours yesterday.  We are so proud of her.  Please join us in beaming special rays of golden light and healing harmony to our Dear Friend Sue.  You are AWESOME, Sue!

Thanksgiving Day was another vintage session steeped in the time-honored rituals of the turkey tradition.  We visited with our neighbors, the huge Despain Family and many of their lifelong Friends.  Even though Patriarch Dean is gone, the Despains carried on in the style to which they have become accustomed.  They didn't miss a beat.  I was welcomed there as always with many open arms, happy faces and radiant smiles.  One of Dean's daughters told me she cried when she read my tribute to her Dad.  In a happy-sad sort of way, her admission warmed my heart.  It made me feel like a real part of their Family.  I asked several people if they heard the table groaning under the weight of all that food but they didn't have a clue what I was talking about.  Apparently, the expression is a Midwestern colloquialism which never penetrated the wilds of Arizona.

After a brief visit with the Despains, we traveled 30 minutes over to The Babe Daley Place in Fort Lincoln.  We were welcomed there also as part of their Family.  It turned out to be the Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover painting we envisioned it to be.  Babe and her lovely daughters, Paula and Jodi, knocked themselves silly preparing a classic cornucopia of scrumptious fare.  THANK YOU, Babe, and THANKS for the warm love and welcome of Your Family on this Thanksgiving.  We give Thanks for YOU!

Black Friday turned out to be a historical episode for The Deal Dude.  He visited seven Big Box retailers and bought nary a single item of any kind.  Yep, you read that right.  He didn't spend a danged dime or even a pretty penny one one speck of stuff.  He amazed himself by this feat of frugality.  There wasn't one single gee-gaw that attracted his attention. Amazing but true.  Susun' niece Arlyn was actually on the front lines of the Black Friday firefight.  She told an eye-opening tale of trying to get into the American Eagle store in Scottsdale before her shift began at midnight.  There were hundreds of people crowding the doors and they would let here up to the door.  She said she worked there and they scoffed and said, "Yeah, right."  Finally she got a security guard and the burly Bubba drove a wedge through the crowd to get Arlyn to work on time.  When they opened the door, one woman wedged herself into the opening and wouldn't let go.  It took the combined force of the guard and another person to shove her back out of the door so it could be locked again.  Meanwhile, shoppers stormed the store at the stroke of midnight and poor Arlyn was one of only two cashiers on hand to deal with the human tsunami.  She said the line had to be at least 200 people lone.  And, get this, she and her cashier partner rang up $33,000 worth of gee-gaws in the first 60 minutes.  Folks, that's $550 a minute!  Up in Flagstaff, we read that 1,100 people surged into the Best Buy there within the first 20 minutes.  Nationwide Black Friday sales jumped nearly seven percent over last year and supposedly set some sort of record.  All of which prompts me to wonder: What recession?

Our weather is Blue Bird Beautiful.  Nary a cloud.  Not a breath of wind.  If weather could be a jewel, this is what it would look and feel like to see and wear it.  And, get this, the weather up in Idaho Falls has resembled science fiction.  Thanksgiving Day it reached 53 degrees and was 55 the day before Thanksgiving.  That's unheard of in The Annals of Eastern Idaho. 

Miss Susun loves to fondle fotos.  She had to wait in the San Diego airport three hours for her flight yesterday.  Was she bored?  Are you kidding?  No, she was delighted to have to time to put her photo album together.  She is SO proud of her photo albums.  It is a Point-of-Pride with her to have all her photos processed and tidily arranged into an artful album BEFORE she arrives back in Ol' Airy Zonie.  We had to hustle to get back home to 2CR before sunset.  We barely made it with enough time to chop wood and get a campfire going before the sun sunk once again below the distant Verde Fault scarp.  Sure enough, as soon as the campfire was burning brightly once again and Happy Hour was underway, Susun chirps, "Wanna see my album?"  Well, YEAH, Girl, bring it ON!  Naturally, it's a darling repertoire of smiling kiddies, a smiley Grand Ma and two happy and spirited daughters having the time of their lives together once again.  Thanks, Susun, for elevating your collections of snapshots to an artform.  This one is one of your best yet.

Below are some of the photos of the past few days.  We are putting captions on them right now as we've overstayed our welcome here at the keyboard and it's time to pull back from this glowing terminal and wake up and smell the coffee.

Have a great day and Many Cheers, jp
 Wagon load of Joy.
 Stasea, Mema and Sarah.  Life's a Beach!
 A woman at home.
 Just a small part of The Despain Family.
 Desi and Ryan dish up while Jodi (right) looks on.
 Houn' Dawg (left) and Family engaging in extra safe procedures while deep frying their Idaho Falls turkey.
What would Thanksgiving be without the obligatory GIGANTIC bowl of mashed potatoes all slathered in butter?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Holiday Greetings and a Very Happy Turkey Day to One & All!  May Your Day be filled with much fun, joy, happy smiles and Season's Greetings.  It's a good thing to have an annual holiday especially set aside for the giving of thanks.  We are thankful for all our blessings, especially the blessing of having Family & Friends with which to enjoy and share are lives together.  Although much time passes between those golden moments we spend with our Friends, they are always in our hearts, prayers and thoughts.  Family & Friends together make life a genuine blessing in so many different ways.  Who was it who said, "Ah, let me count the ways...?"

Our pesky questions in yesterday's post elicited a great blog post by Wayne Ranney.  That's why we decided to feature his photo on this Happy Thanksgiving blog post.  Wayne has a lifelong habit of somehow creating the most unusual ways to spend Thanksgiving.  We spent perhaps our most memorable Thanksgiving with Wayne in 1992 at an old 19th hotel in a genuine ghost town of Mogollon, New Mexico.  We could write a book just about that experience alone.  Anyway, today is Vintage Wayne.  He even took about two hours yesterday to actually answer verbatim each and every question we asked yesterday.  It will be a truly classic day for Wayne and Helen today and pretty darn tough to top as far as "out there" Thanksgivings go.  Ironically, Wayne described today on his "All In A Day's Karma" blog.  You can click here to read it.  Many Thanks, Wayne!

Spudboater also described her upcoming Thanksgiving in a comment on the post itself.  THANKS, SB!  Dave E. called yesterday evening as we were lounging 'round the campfire.  He's going to a really big Family event at which at least 50 people are expected to attend.  It takes two really big turkeys to feed that many people.  We can only imagine how many side dished must be prepped for fifty folks.  It was great talking with Dave--our steadfast Friendship has spanned over 30 years now.

We sure hope we receive some more reports of how this Thanksgiving transpires.  Please send us some photos, if you are so inclined and we will make an online album.  It's fun to think of all the different ways people give Thanks today.  ENJOY!

Our day yesterday was another stay-at-home day.  We did drive out into the nearby desert a couple of times to test some reloaded ammunition.  We also put the earth oven base in its first draft position.  We're going to have to disassemble it and adjust for final position and level but it is pretty close to its final location.  These things have to be "just so," ya know?

As everyone knows, Thanksgiving is the official kick off for Christmas Shopping Season.  Retailers around the Nation are giving Thanks because Black Friday is only one day away.  Some have made the news by trying to encroach Thanksgiving with early bird Black Friday deals.  We once were infected with the consumer frenzy that marks Black Friday.  Our infection has tapered off somewhat this year and we see no reason to rush off in the dark to score the latest and greatest deal on whatever trivia is up for sale tomorrow.  One DF & LBR calls us The Deal Dude.  It harks somewhat to The Big Lebowski only it's different.  Lewbowski was into bowling and white russians, not necessarily in that order.  We're just normally russian around to roll a strike on another deal someplace.  Anyway, we must all go out and do our duty for American tomorrow and spend money and be right and proper consumers, eh?

Life is Good & Beautiful.  Cherish every day.  Give Thanks for all our abundant blessings and especially our fabulous freedoms.  Many Cheers, jp

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's Your Holiday Going to be?

We are very curious today.  What are YOU doing for the Thanksgiving Holiday?  Are you hosting the Big Feed at your place?  Are you going to a friend's home?  Visiting Family nearby?  Visiting Family far away?  How are you traveling?  Driving?  Flying? Walking?  Or...?  Do you plan to be involved in the typical large, traditional meal?  Or do you have a counter-culture repast planned?  Bologna & american cheese, perhaps?  Spam from a can?  How many different types of potatoes do you plan to eat?  Will the obligatory green bean casserole make an appearance on your table?  Do you use real cranberries of the ones that comes in a can?  What's your pie de jour?  When you you plan to begin the annual ritual of excessive consumption?  And, finally, you think dining tables will actually really be "groaning" under the weight of all that food, or did Grand Ma just make up that story?  I've never heard a table groan, have you?

Susun's going to Sarah's Mother-in-Law's place for a California-style meal.  I suspect that means the turkey will be served on a surfboard and perhaps be draped with a Hawaiian shirt.  Me?  We're heading out for a Norman Rockwell event at Babe Daley's Place.  Babe is Jodi's Mom.  Babe is the same age as my Mom.  All of Babe's kids will be there and some of the grand kids and maybe even a great grand kid or two.  Babe goes all out for the Totally Traditional Trimmings.  We suspect the turkey will be served much as Norman Rockwell himself would depict it on the cover of Saturday Evening Post.  The groaning table will be ringed with smiling faces and happy people ready to chow down.  We'll almost betcha that Babe will say "dig in" or something similar to that.  We dearly love Babe and her Family.  If I had some Glenn Miller on tape, I'd take it with me today. It will be one of those kinda days.

Yesterday was another high speed day--Rush-rush to get outta here and buy coffee and donuts and get to the informal shooting range before 9 am.  Two hours of shooting flew by faster than our own speeding bullets.  Then back to the house to safely stash firearms and off to Cottonwood for another load of concrete blocks.  Then back here in time to test out some reloads in a new pistol only to return with barely enough time to get the fire running by sundown.  Heck, I haven't even had time to reply to emails lately.  One thing's for sure, such a schedule makes time pass very quickly.  Today, we have to get the household spic & span & tidy for Susun's return.  There won't be much free time tomorrow and then we're off to Mesa on Friday.  We shoot again at IDPA Saturday morning, and then pick up Miss Susun at the airport that afternoon.  We may zoom back here or simply stay at Roger's so we can return on the Beeline backroad on a leisurely Sunday morning drive.  Decisions, decisions.

As of tomorrow, we will have been here 3 weeks but it seems like only yesterday that we arrived.  Hopefully, this winter won't go as fast as the last one did.  Does anyone have a device that slows down time?  (Other than waiting in line at DMV, of course.)

They say this is the busiest travel day of the year.  We tend to think "they" actually have it right on that pronouncement. We hope you will enjoy safe travels even if you are simply going to the local grocery store.  The day before Thanksgiving can be a wild and crazy day so keep an eye on all those food-crazed shoppers and last minute travelers--most of them only have one thing on their mind--visions of a table groaning under the weight of all that food.

Have a GREAT DAY & Many Cheers, jp

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Well, we came up with a novel concept during the middle of the night about 2 AM-ish.  It's called "Rent-A-Present.  Yep, we're taking the rice cooker back to Wally World later today.  It's a really bad influence on our life. It just sits there and taunts me to cook rice.  Even small amounts of white rice aren't good for me but a half pot full?  I mean whadda gonna do but eat it all.  No such thing as moderation when it comes to white rice.  I don't wanted to be tempted to cook one more gain of white rice, at least until my 65th birthday which, thankfully as far as carbohydrate consumption goes, is almost a full year away.  So, the bottom line is I got to enjoy a birthday present and now I get my money back.  How good is that?

We had grand plans to build an edifice yesterday but those plans faded into the morning mist when we realized we would have to go to Cottonwood again.  Cottonwood is filled with really Old People.  I mean we're talking OLD-OLD.  They make people in their mid-70's look like spring chickens.  Sometimes I think the average age of Cottonwood is 93.  Yeah, I know that's not demographically possible but it sure seems that way when the grocery aisles are gridlocked with electric scooters, walkers and cane-swinging geriatrics.  I just didn't want to be reminded of my inevitable fate yesterday so I avoided the highways and byways and stayed safely home all day lone.  Well, actually, I did go out in the desert to shoot my 93-year-old Colt 1917 .45 ACP revolver.  That's a 93-year-old I can really appreciate!

Thanks for all your great birthday wishes and comments here on the blog.  After reading Wayne's comment I decided to chuck my Type A plans and goof off all day. It was a delightful goof off day and went entirely too fast.  How could I spend the whole day here and still have to hustle to get a fire going before sunset?  Maggie called early in the morning and actually SANG "When I'm 64" by the Beatles.  Great voice, Maggie!  Thanks, Spudboater and Kirsty for your really kind comments.

Susun hid two birthday cards here in the house and it was a lot of fun finding them.  Kind of like geo-caching, only different.  One of the cards is real traditional and very sweet.  The other one says "Happy Birthday to the BEST thing that ever happened to me."  When you open the card it says, "...from the best thing that ever happened to YOU!"  Well, she sure got that last part right.  I love You, Sweetie!

We actually DID get a real birthday present of sorts.  We were mentioned in the local newspaper in conjunction with a story they did on Dex. You can click here to read it.  Thanks, Steve, for a great story on Dex.

Isn't that a cute little campfire in the photo above this post.  We had ourselves a mighty fine campfire last night and stayed until the last flame flickered down to glowing embers.  We waxed very philosophical about campfires.  Each of them is so totally different each night--kind of like how no two snowflakes are the same.  The fires are kind of a metaphor for life in ways that would take far too long to explain here and really gunk up this blog post.  Anyway, it was a good fire and we wanted to memorialize it by putting it someplace semi-permanent.

Today's the typical Tuesday Target Shoot.  We all packed and ready to go.  Leaving in about an hour.

Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp

Monday, November 21, 2011

When I'm 64

'Tis true!  One of the fun things about turning 64 is that we get to enjoy the Beatles tune.  (Lyrics below.)  Susun turned 64 back on Ground Hog Day.  Now we both get to be 64 until she joins the Medicare Generation next February. 

Nothing special is planned for today.  We had a lot of outside plans but it's drizzling outside so the outdoor stuff might not work.  It's probably going to be an inside day.

We moved pretty slowly yesterday after the high speed whirlwind Valley Visit.  We did manage to get a little work area set up in our well house.  Now we've organized all our spent cartridge casings and are all set up to tumble and polish them to a bright and shiny luster. That took most of the day.

Afterward, we then went over to Cottonwood to buy 16 of the 8x8x16 concrete blocks to make the base for the earth oven project.  The little Nissan couldn't possibly carry all 40 blocks needed for the job.  We originally thought we were going to build the base out of 32 blocks but now we realize we need 40. 

We arrived back at 2CR just in the nick of time to get a fire up and running before the sun hit the horizon.  Then we carried over our Patio Caddie grill and began the process to determine the orientation of the oven.  What's an oven orientation?  Well, the earth oven will have an opening into which you place wood for a fire and then food to cook.  Who ever is operating the oven will spend a pretty fair amount of time standing around the this opening.  So, we might as well "orient" the position of the oven to maximize the view.  You'd think this would be an easy process but, hey, it takes time, thought, and mucho vino to get the correct view going!  I mean we take this oven orientation stuff seriously, ya know?

While in Cottonwood, we bought ourselves a decadent birthday present.  A cheap-o rice cooker.  You've seen this little buggers--they are typically found in dorm rooms and cheap-o apartments where starving students live.  We can't eat much rice because the carbohydrate content is off the charts.  Bet you didn't know that rice is so full of carbs it's ridiculous.  Whatever.  Anyway, I love the most worthless kind of rice--plain long grain white rice--the stuff that's been stripped of all known nutrients except for boatloads of carbs.  I love a steaming bowl of really hot white rice all covered with butter and salt and pepper.  To me that's real decadent--a forbidden food, so to speak.  Anyway, so what's Little Yonni buy for his birthday?  A cheap-o $13 rice cooker.  Cheap thrills, huh? Then Little Yonni comes in from the campfire and cooks up a pot of sinful white rice and purrs like a kitten while slurping it down with fresh roasted green chiles and cheese on the side.  YUM-O-YUM!  Better than Thanksgiving dinner.  Heck, I shoulda bought a can of Spam to really make the meal complete.

Today, we're prolly gonna go back to Cottonwood to buy the rest of the blocks.  It had been our goal to build the base today--there's something vaguely poetic about building an earth oven base on the day we turn 64.  Who knows? Maybe the weather will clear up and we can "git 'er dun."

And without further ado, may we present one of The Beatles' finest tunes:

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now.
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine.

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four.

You'll be older too,
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four.

Every summer we can rent a cottage,
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck & Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Happy Campers: Gage, Mema and Van.

Sunday Greetings

The last few days have been a typical whirlwind warp.  Thursday and and went in a pleasant blur.  Friday was likewise.  We lost count of the various places we went for various reasons. (One of the places ALWAYS visit in Mesa is Bass Pro Shops--above--it's kind of a mecca for outdoors people.)  Yesterday was about as rush-rush, go-go as it could possibly be.

The blog author left Roger's Place before 7 am, grabbed a breakfast burro at the Pro Ranch Market and made it over to the north flank of South Mountain well before 8 am.  The IDPA Club there commenced shooting their Saturday match shortly thereafter.  We will describe that experience over on the shooting blog.  Meanwhile, the match wrapped up at 10:30 am and we hotfooted it back to Mesa to commence helping Miss Susun prepare for her departure.  We left Roger's Place at 1 pm and got Our Sweetie to the airport about two hours in advance of her flight.

We're certain she's having a wonderful time hugging her daughters and grand sons.  We're also certain we will soon start receiving texts, Facebook photos and more.  We're so happy she's visiting with her girls and grand kids again.

After leaving Sky Harbor, we went back south into West Mesa once again to meet Justin W. for a firearm transaction.  THANKS, Justin!  Then it was off into Tempe to meet Chris D. to pick up some brass.  And then we headed up the 101 into Paradise Valley to meet David S. to buy a holster.  After that we hustled back to Rimrock and rustled up a campfire before the sun dipped below the horizon.  Gary came for a brief visit before spending most of the night in a Search & Rescue exercise in the use of maps and GPS at night.  Those guys never stop training.

We kept the campfire going well past its normal "burn down" time and enjoyed thinking of Miss Susun having a wonderful time in San Diego as well as the blur of events of the day.

OK, now that we are "batching" it again here at Second Chance Ranch, whazzup?  The top priority will be to begin building the earth oven.  We might even start on that project today.  It's time to stop talking about it and get down and dirty and DO something.  Wouldn't you agree?

If the past is an indicator, this week will go flying by and we won't even tackle half the tasks we hope to tussle.

Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp

PS--One of the really cool features of Bass Pro is their aquarium.  It contains all the game fish typically caught in Arizona.  The kiddies love it.  The waterfall is pretty cool, too.  Bass Pro Shops ROX over Cabela's and it makes Sportman's Warehouse look like a Circkel K.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Down in the Desert

We took the backroad down to Mesa yesterday.  It takes an extra hour and costs a little more in gas but it's some much nicer than traveling I-17.  The scenery is superb and we arrived relaxed and stress free.  We stopped for lunch at the East Verde River.  The nearest Food City had a Mexican kiddie carnival set up in their parking lot.  We spent a couple hours shopping (see "Jackpot" below) and Susun served up a great din-din of spiral sliced ham, baked yams, potatoes and fresh green beans.  Yesterday's high temperature as 79 degrees here.  Yea, verily, that feels HOT! It's fun to be back down the land of cactus and palm trees.


Well, we hit the jackpot at the Mesa Deseret Industries store yesterday afternoon.  For a mere buck, we have a new favorite hat.  This is SWEET!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dexter Allen Day

Today was Dexter Allen Day.  It was an incredibly Special Day for a lot of people, but most of all for DEX, as he is known by all his admiring Fans.  Dex got a Big Time National Award from the Forest Service.  He was honored as one of the Nation's top Wild & Scenic River managers.Normally he would have been sent to Washington, D.C. to receive the award but, as you know, budgets are tight in Fed Land and so they kind of downsized his award presentation event.  That turned out to be a Good Thing.  It meant that Dexter's Dear Wife, Jodi, as well as Dexter's Mom and Dad and his Friends could attend the award presentation.

It was a Genuine Real Big Deal, as far as these things go.  The District Ranger, Heather Provencio, scheduled the presentation to coincide with a weekly Staff Meeting.  That meant that ALL of Dexter's Peers were in attendance.  It also meant that each and any of them that wanted to stand up and say something had the chance to do so in front of their peers.  As far as events like these go, it turned out really, really well. Dex even got officially promoted right up to another Federal Pay Grade.  Dex is doing an awesome and incredible job at manager of the Wild & Scenic Verde River.  On top of that, he's pretty much the point man for the Fossil Creek Wild & Scenic area as well and that's a huge challenge.  Dex takes it all in stride and is making a tremendous positive difference on behalf of both the Verde and Fossil.

All-in-all is was a very impressive event.  I didn't speak at the event as I would have been far too emotional.  I tried to speak at the Verde NRCD meeting Monday morning about Dexter's award but I choked up and could barely talk.  A local news reporter called me today to talk about Dexter's award and I danged near broke into tears on the phone about it. We are so proud of Dexter and we celebrate Jodi and Dexter and the whole Family!

There are nine photos below.  I don't have the emotion tonight to put captions of them.  Perhaps we will do that tomorrow.  Anyway, here they are.

Congratulations, Dexter! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In praise of envelopes

It's a rainy Sunday morning here.  Whoever said it was going to be warm and dry here is full of "hooey."  Oddly, the NWS keeps insisting it's going to be warm and dry here.  Apparently, they don't bother to look out of their office windows.  It's chilly and definitely wet.

Yesterday was a real nice day.  We spent about 5 hours in Cottonwood doing all the typical stuff people from Rimrock do in Cottonwood.  Susun did huge amounts of laundry.  The blog author went to the semi-annual gun show at the Fairgrounds.  We shopped at waaay too many stores.  Susun filled up our drinking water bottles, we gassed the vehicle and then upon our arrival back in Rimrock, we spent the remainder of the afternoon unpacking all the booty we acquired in Cottonwood.  It takes a full day to deal with Cottonwood.  We won't be spending another day there like yesterday until Susun returns from San Diego the weekend after Thanksgiving.

OK, so whazzup with envelopes?  Well, the coolest thing about an envelope is not that it can be used to mail stuff.  Nope, the back of an envelope is our "go to" place to make a list.  What would life be without the classic "back of an envelope" shopping list?  Who knows how many businesses have started out with a Number 2 pencil sketch on the back of an envelope?  When the going gets tough, we reach for an envelope and make a list.  In our experience a list rendered on the back of an envelope is a REAL List and the stuff on that list actually gets DONE.  We are lifelong list makers.  We've made lists on every thing of paper object you can imagine, from paper plates to napkins to cash register receipts.  But the lowly envelope tops them all in utility, efficiency and effectiveness.  There's something about an envelope that gives it some much more substance than anything else.  Besides, an envelope fits in a jeans pocket so much better and feels like it belongs there.  For some reason, envelopes don't get lost like mere scraps of note paper do.  Plus, you can put coupons in an envelope.  Try that with a Post-It Note.

Envelopes also look really righteous.  They hark to a long tradition of list making usage.  When we are slogging through yet another grocery store, we dutifully pull out our envelope and studiously examine the back of the envelope for pearls of wisdom in what to buy next.  We would be lost without envelopes.  No doubt about it.  Some days are so busy they require a full #10 envelope.  Others, such as today, will easily fit on the No. 6 3/4 Security envelope.  Rarely do we need a large manila envelope for a REALLY busy days!  A staid old #10 will generally cover just about any type of day.  The bottom line is that you can generally accomplish all the stuff you put on the back of an envelope.  There's great satisfaction in looking at your envelope at the end of the day to see everything properly crossed off or lined through.

We often wonder if the phrase "pushing the edge of the envelope" actually evolved from making lists on them.
We push our envelope's edge all the time, especially when we're running out of room for the last couple of items on our "to do" list for the day.  That's when we are forced to write really small or use obscure abbreviations or notations to make something fit before the push the edge of the envelope.

Take today, for example, we ran out of room to write the word "Target" (the store not a shooting target).  So, we just drew a tiny little target icon right at the very tippy, tiny edge of the envelope and, hey, that's works for us.

We suspect every one who reads this blog has used or actually still continues to use envelopes for list making.  If perhaps you have fallen out of the habit of using envelopes for such a high and noble purpose, we urge you to reconnect with your Inner Envelope.  You will find it to be an especially satisfying experience.  Besides, it's nice to know you can push the edge of your own envelope and not get in any trouble!

Well, enough with envelopes already, OK?  When newspapers write about ridiculous stuff, readers yawn and mumble, "Must be a slow news day."  Well, it's a slow news day here at The Daily News so that's why we're stuffing envelopes this morning.

OK, what's on the envelope today? Looks like Little Yonni is heading down to the north edge of Phoenix to facilitate a transaction. While he's down there, he will engage is a mini-frenzy of errand running at stores which don't exist here in the hinterlands.  Susun might go hiking but it's doubtful with the weather being what it is.

Tomorrow, most of the day is taken up with the Verde NRCD meeting.  Tuesday morning see the weekly Target Shoot.  Wednesday we go early to the Red Rock Ranger District to witness Dexter Allen getting a National Award from the Forest Service.  Thursday we head down to Mesa.  Saturday Susun flies out to San Diego.  That's about as far out to the edge of our envelope as we can see right now.

Spudboater is a bit blue this morning.  Her beloved Boise State Broncos lost to TCU by a point last night.  We sure know how that stings Spud Buddy.  Sorry 'bout that.

Wayne Ranney put up a new blog post not long ago.  Something about rats and dams. You can click here to read it.  Kirsty's Momedy blog continues to showcase the cutest baby photos we've seen in a really long time.  Now, yes, I know that Mom Sarah officially sends the cutest photos of Gage and Van but check Momedy and I think you will agree Kirsty's photos are totally awesome.  Dear Friend & Neighbor Gary is down in the bottom of the Grand Canyon this morning.  He hiked down to Phantom yesterday.  Believe it or not, he has been meeting with a group of friends there each mid-November for 30 years.  This is his 24th participation in an annual tradition.  That's quite the place to have a gathering of friends.

We are mentoring Joshua W. on becoming a river guide.  This week we asked for some advice from one of Flagstaff's outdoor legends, George Bain.  It took awhile for George to focus on my request but he finally delivered last night.  Believe it or not, there is a program called the "Native American River Guide Training Program" at NAU where Josh is now a freshman.  You can click here to check it out.  It's offered under the auspices of something called the Landsward Institute. Ironically, Karan English is the Director.  Dear Friends who can go into the Way Back Time Machine with us will get a chuckle out of the irony of that connection.  HA!  Anyway, it's going to be fun seeing how Joshua interfaces with this unique training and developmental opportunity.

Well, this is about all the words we can to line up sort of in a row.  Have a great day and Many Cheers!  jp

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fitting Friday Fire

 Who knows how many scores or even 100's of photos we've taken of our campfires.  We don't put too many on this blog because they quickly get old and boring and trite. In fact, three's too trite today, eh?  We DO love our campfires.  The weather hasn't been real conducive to campfires lately.  Last night conditions were perfect for a campfire.  No wind, decent temps in the low 50's.  Yippie!  It's always so nice to see the campfire from a distance and, of course, up close, too.
 Campfires are an endless source of enjoyment for both of us.  It gets us out of the house in the evening when we would probably just be sitting inside staring at the computer.  It keeps us from being labeled fuddy duddies.  The fire draws over our neighbor, Gary, almost every time we light one up.  The fire is always a special highlight whenever friends gather here.
When you are actually watching the flickering flames, your eyes can't really see what those gaseous tentrils are really doing.  Perhaps that's why we take so many fire photos.  The pictures help us see a few of the awesome beauty of the flames themselves.  The art show put on by those flames is created and then disappears in a nano-second, always changing, ever renewing.

We have been in a bit of a mini-dither the past week.  Firewood prices have skyrocketed and supply has shrunk down to next to nothing.  Normally, firewood sellers are almost at every intersection.  This year?  Not so much.  The absolute cheapest we've seen any type of firewood is $200 a cord and those are pitifully short cords at that,--usually padded with undesirable wood of dubious origin.  We went into Camp Verde late yesterday afternoon and were surprised to see a trailer load of really good looking shaggy bark juniper--our favorite campfire wood.  Shaggy bark emits a fabulous scent into the air that can't be described.  It's the smell of a juniper fire and is one of the great icons of the Southwest Experience.  The aroma of burning juniper is downright almost intoxicating to those who have grown to know and love that olfactory delight.  Unfortunately, shaggy bark is nearly impossible to find this fall and one seller quoted me $275 a cord (same as oak) simply because it's in such short supply.  I fully expected to be quoted a high price for the trailer load I found last night.  I was downright shocked when they said it was $200.  Well, I figured I'd stretch them out a little bit and say I had to ahve the wood delivered at 7 am Saturday morning.  And, guess what?  Three burly bubbas showed up shortly after 7 am and the four of us made short order of unloading what sure looks like a full cord of shaggy bark.  Yippee, Skippie!  We've now gone from rationing our meager supply of alligator juniper to staring at a winter's worth of really fine, seasoned shaggy bark.  Life is good, indeed.  Campfires R Us!
Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sunset for 11-11-11

We will talk about this sunset tomorrow.  Just wanted to put up the photos tonight.


On again, off again, on again. That's how it went with Kate Blevins Birthday today.  Kate, Susun and Jodi cooked up a plan last night and it all came together like clockwork this morning.  Everyone showed up at the Montezuma Well National Monument parking lot just before 11 am.  We all hot-footed it down to the Well Outlet and were able to line up and smile just in time for 11:11 am on 11-11-11.  YEA! (Naturally, Susun made the signs.)  Meanwhile, a group of meditators were doing their ritual nearby.  We were invited to join in and it was a fitting and powerful experience.  Everyone fell totally silent--so quiet you could hear a sycamore leaf falling to the ground.  Someone played a flute with impeccable beauty and all our Spirits soared.  Later, Kate climbed atop a charismatic rock and read us a wonderful poem.  Afterwards, we dutifully trooped up to the Well itself.  It was one of those special days at the Well--not a hint of wind or even air movement.  The water in the Well was so still, you could see the reflection of one of the ancient ruins.  (Look closely, it's there.)   Finally, everyone adjourned to a nearby Mexican restaurant to enjoy a festive lunch together.  It was a truly memorable way to observe the uniqueness of 11-11-11.  Happy Birthday & THANKS, Kate!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Forgot The Camera

Yep, Susun had a Dear Diary Day Wednesday but left home without her camera so there's no photos to show this morning.  She spent four hours with Betty and enjoyed a great lunch at the new Sedona Airport Cafe.  Later they were to visit Bob M. in Betty's former home.  Betty has been living at Sedona Winds since August 2007 and loves the place.  The care facility has plenty of options for the residents but Betty loves traveling around with Susun.  Call it Driving Miss Betty.  Susun is already planning a plethora of adventures with Betty this season.  We're already lobbying Bob to take the four of us over to the In N Out in Prescott.  Betty LOVES In N Out!
Susun left here mid-morning and didn't return until 5 pm.  She also managed to get in a visit with Kate and Brock at Verde Earthworks. 

Coincidentally, Goatherder might be poised to do some driving for Verde Earthworks running some of their recycling routes around the valley.  GH spent yesterday morning learning the ropes from Pedro who is about the age of GH's son, Josh.  There was some talk of a big birthday party for Kate on 11-11-11 but she's decided she doesn't want have a hoop-dee-doo celebration.

A week from today we will be taking off for Mesa to spend a couple of night with Roger and Nancy before Susun flies off to San Diego for a Happy Thanksgiving week with Sarah, her grandsons and Stasea, too.  She better not forget her camera for that trip!

The blog author laid low yesterday.  He woke up with a really painful knee and could barely hobble around the straw house.  The pain didn't begin to subside until mid-afternoon.  It feels somewhat better this morning so perhaps we will be able to do some weed whacking before the next storm is due to arrive over the weekend.  Luckily, it's progged to be a weak storm with little rainfall.  We have been truly soaked and hosed here this past week.  At times it looked like the straw house was sitting on an island in a large large.  Hey, maybe it was a  mini-Gilligan's Island, eh, Spudboater?

After the knee became less lame later yesterday, we were able to get a few things done around here, including the final unpacking of our remaining stuff.  My shed--The Guy Shed--is now organized and tidy once again.  There's not much on tap in our upcoming calendar.  We're taking a well-deserved social break.  No lunches, dinners, parties or other appointments lie ahead.

That's all the news there is this morning.  Have a great day & Many Cheers,jp

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday wrapup

Yes, it's true, we are very remiss in blogging.  Sorry 'bout that.  This blog post of more of a photo album than a regular narrative.  You will find some commentary below each photo.
One of the highlights of our return ti Ol' Airy Zonie was the delivery of Joshua's new OBB Sunday afternoon.  He was delighted to receive the boat.  Pa Goatherder put together an awesome lunch as only GH knows how to do.  Josh, Katie and GH are Family here and it's great to be back enjoying their Happy Spirits.
The entire Sunshine Family made the migration with us this year.  We didn't leave any of them to freeze through the dark winter in our Idaho basement.  They were very appreciative, of course, and have been filling the straw house with much merriment.
Each branch of The Sunshine Family Tree, such as they are, has their own little area to stretch their legs and tend to the young 'uns.
Grand Pa and Grand Ma Sunshine are definitely poised to rock around the clock.
Yesterday morning we enjoyed the first of many fun Tuesday Target Shoots.  Everyone there welcomed us back with smiles and hugs and happy handshakes. We shot our "new" 93-year-old Colt M1917 .45 ACP revolver for the very first time yesterday.  What a cannon!  It's great.  After the Tuesday shoot, we spent three hours with the group above out on the Montezuma Well National Monument, our neighbor.  That's local celebrity Bill Cowan at right waving.
Bill and NPS Archaeologist Matt Guebard did a lot of head and beard scratching Tuesday trying to match old photos with the current "lay of the land."
This is the autumn view looking downstream along Wet Beaver Creek.
It's quite the typical fall riot of color in the lush riparian area here.  The photo above looks down over the Monument's picnic grounds.
Pa Goatherder was the very first to greet us upon our arrival November 3rd.  He drove over his new ride.  We insisted on doing a "family portrait" of a Man and His Truck.
Although quite late, here's a shot of our very first campfire the night we arrived back home here.  We've onyl managed to light 3 campfires out of seven potential nights.  The weather has been real wet.  We've received over an inch and a half of rainfall.  Last night, we hosted Dear Friends & Neighbors Gary and Robin for dinner.  It was Robin's birthday so we sang Happy Birthday and lit a campfire to serve as her campfire.  The high humidity put a chill in the air that the campfire really couldn't dispel so we skee-daddled inside soon to enjoy another wonderful Miss Susun dinner.

Hopefully, we will get back in the groove with blogging.  Thanks for reading & Many Cheers, jp