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When I left off at the end of the first phase, we’d just gotten started turning this 40′ X 40′ bare piece of desert dirt into a garden. I’d tried growing some things but the weather decided it just wasn’t time to do that yet. This is why. No, it wasn’t a heavy snowfall, but it snowed off and on for about three weeks, and with that snow came some below freezing temperatures. So, planting would have to wait.
While waiting, I decided to make an addition to this first path. There was still a little mulch left and even several long branches. Some of them had been burned but no problem. I placed them so we wouldn’t get black legs from running into them. And, several large rocks also helped. This view is from the rear of the garden, looking toward my rig and pickup, with Marcie and Jim’s motorhome at the right.
Next on the garden agenda was building a raised bed. I found some lumber in one of the stacks near the front entrance and screwed them together. In order to keep from going completely broke buying garden soil, I shoveled and hauled many buckets of red dirt from behind us. Apparently someone last year planned to use that area as a garden but never did. Of course, I still had to buy some good soil because while the red dirt MIGHT grow cactus and sagebrush, it wouldn’t work for tomatoes. Since the weather seemed to be warming up, I actually planted a few jalapeño plants. They did really well—until the NEXT frost. Well, goodbye peppers.

Since a really strong windstorm had completely demolished the first fence, it was time to rebuild it. This time I sunk about eight large limbs into the ground about a foot or so. Digging wasn’t too bad AFTER I got past all the rocks. I then wired a length of chicken wire to the branches. Barring a hurricane or tornado, there’s no way this fence will blow over. Marcie and Jim attached the rest of the branches to the fence foundation with plastic strapping, and we decorated the resulting fence with small ornaments and birdhouses. The rowboat got a new home on the opposite side of the fence, along with the whirly thing. In the foreground is a cactus that I dug and transplanted. It’s doing VERY well.

The trees are now green and beautiful.

For a while we hung the hummingbird feeders on branches. However, I found something even better for the little birds. Here’s our “red” tree. I’ve seen as many as six hummingbirds at one or the other feeders, as well as some bright yellow orioles. It’s fun to watch the bird wars when the male orioles chase away the hummers. The female orioles are very laid back and everyone co-exists nicely. But, those males seem to want it all to themselves. Of course, we’ve needed to refill the feeders about every other day.
Since it was still too early to plant veggies or flowers, we haunted thrift stores and garage sales for fence decorations. Here are a few of our early finds.

We also found a pair of child’s boots for under one of the trees. Maybe it’s our beginning of Boot Hill.
The end of Phase 2 found us with the basic bones of the garden, and getting really anxious to plant things.
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Me, Jim, and Marcie on the trail to Bright Angel Point

Although I’ve been lucky enough to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon several times, Marcie and Jim had never been there. So, on a warm but very windy day last week, I shared the back seat with Clancy the Wonder Dog and off we went on a wonderful adventure.

After a stop at Jacob Lake for some breakfast, we headed down Highway 67 to use our Senior cards for free admission to the National Park – what a treat to be old enough for that!

We met up with Karen, one of our friends from the Workamper forums. She and her husband are back for their third year working at the North Rim, loving almost every minute of it. The nice thing, at least for us, is the nearest shopping is about 85 miles away, here in Kanab. So, I’m sure we’ll see them several more times before the end of October.

The road to the park didn’t open until Mother’s Day because of heavy snow, and there’s still some remainder of that snow. Clancy whimpered to get out and play in it as well as chase a deer or two she saw from her perch on my lap. Nope, sorry Clancy.

We explored the short, but steep, trail to Bright Angel Point, taking lots and lots of photos along the way. In addition, we offered to take pictures of couples together so they had a record of their visit.

After a wonderful lunch at the Lodge, where I had a Navajo Taco on fry bread, Marcie ate delicious beef stew in a bread bowl, and Jim opted for the pasta and salad buffet, we explored the gift store and the bookstore. Back at the car, Clancy was happy to see us since dogs are not allowed on the trails.

Heading back towards Kanab, we decided to check out Point Imperial, about a 20 minute drive to what I think is one of the most gorgeous views in what I’ve seen of the canyon. I braved walking down to the point in wind so strong it made me very glad there was strong metal railing for protection. Otherwise, I believe I’d have flown down to the bottom of the canyon. On the way back up, a park ranger let us know they were closing the road to the point because the strong winds were blowing down trees along the road. He wasn’t kidding, either, as on the way back to the main highway, we had to drive over one of those trees. Luckily it wasn’t a large one.

Back to Kanab after an almost perfect day. Poor Jim had to drive most of the return trip with no one to talk to as Marcie, Clancy, and I all went to sleep.

Perhaps you’ve wondered why I haven’t included any pictures, at least up to now. It’s impossible to take a bad photo at the Grand Canyon, which means even with some judicious pruning, I still have more pictures than anyone would be comfortable viewing in this blog. So, my wonderful friend Lou made them into a nice, simple website. Just click on the link, then click on each little picture for a larger view, and Enjoy!

http://www.my-photos.us/Chris-Smith/Canyon/Index.html

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What a wonderful RV site, especially for frustrated gardeners! One of the things I’ve really missed while living in a motorhome is the lack of space for gardening. While in Kanab three years ago, I did try. However, the results were less than successful, and I wrote a blog about the attempt back in November 2008.http://piecingalife.blogspot.com/2008/11/eat-your-veggies.html

However, this year we have a 40′ x 40′ blank canvas to work with. Yes, it’s in the middle of the high desert and the soil is plain old red dirt. Yes, it’s been really cold for two months with lots of heavy winds, snow, and frost. But, it’s our GARDEN through the end of October and we’re having a wonderful time.
Here’s how our canvas looked the first week of April. The whole area was covered with tumbleweeds and snow. Doesn’t look too promising, does it?

I waited for the snow to melt, then cleared away all the tumbleweeds that blew down from the hills behind us. That looked a little better. Now it was time to design a branch fence to mark the back of the garden area and hopefully also keep out some tumbleweeds. Here’s the beginning of our first fence.

We collected branches from everywhere we went. And, the fence started looking pretty good. But, there was a slight problem—the wind. But that’s later.
Next was making a path. Luckily I found lots of tree limbs and mulch from some tree cutting on the property. It was a simple thing to just lay out a path, load up buckets with the mulch, and spread it out. I first made one path.
A couple of tree stumps marked the beginning of the path. So far we hadn’t spent any money on this garden, but now it was time to collect things. Both Marcie and I love yard and garage sales as well as thrift shops so we looked for what we term, “junk.” I found a couple of things to hang on the fence. Then we drove out to Glendale, UT and discovered this little rowboat at a yard sale. I think we’ll eventually plant something in it, but right now it just graces the back of the garden, in case of a flood.

I was getting itchy fingers to plant something and really started too soon. On a trip to Wal-Mart in Hurricane, UT one morning, I bought some herb plants, including some basil. After planting the herbs in the herb garden former workampers had made, I got really excited about all the great pesto I could make. Well, that was mistake number two (the first was not burying the fence posts deep enough.) Although it was the middle of April, it wasn’t done snowing yet. Even though we covered all the little plants with plastic containers, the basil curled up and froze. However, the lavender, chives, cilantro, rosemary, and oregano still look pretty good.

So, that was the end of phase one of the garden making. Stay tuned for phase two.

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After last month’s experience with the mice, I thought I’d gotten rid of them once and for all. However, in the past few days I’ve noticed a rather foul odor by the front door with no idea what was causing it. So, remembering that the mouse/mice last month were able to get in and run around under the cooktop, I lifted it up and cleaned it really well, thinking perhaps it was mouse turds or something causing the smell. Nope, it was still there. I cleaned everything else – nope, still there.

 

So, I decided to take a break and read one of the new books from the library, this one Dan Brown’s latest, Lost Symbol. There I was, happily comfortable on the bed, when I happened to look down on the floor for some reason and, what do my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature MOUSE (cordless), calmly sitting there munching away on a crumb of something. Normally the things just take off, but this one just stayed there, daring me to catch it. I grabbed whatever was handy (a fleece vest), scooped him/her up, and tossed the creature out the door and into the canyon.

 

I then shampooed the carpet (hasn’t been done before) and at least the place looked clean. However, the smell still lingered by the door. In fact, it seemed to be coming FROM the door. Hmm. Oh, yeah. Two days ago I finally removed the shrink plastic from the screen areas that helped keep out the cold in Kansas and the sand/dust from the beach and the desert. Could it be that dirt and whatever else had collected on one side? Well, it was easy enough to clean it all off. Guess what? I think that did it. Who knew?

 

Now to destroy whatever welcome mat is attracting the creatures.

 

 

 

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I haven’t written a blog for a while because, frankly, lately I’ve really had nothing to say. I’ve been catching up on some long-overdue reading, attempting to make a few life decisions, and enjoying a perfect spot overlooking the Anza Borrego Desert as my place to live for two months. But, in checking out the new format of the UUA website this morning, I discovered this article by the late Forrest Church. Although I’ve read several of his books, this concise selection of suggestions hit home with me and I’d like to share his words with you. Perhaps you might find one or more of them as helpful as I have.


Let me share with you 10 simple hints on beginning—on how to re-boot your spiritual life, if it has become automatic or stale. Getting your soul in shape may lead to awe-inspiring mystical encounters some day. Yet how to begin (or begin anew) isn’t the least bit mystifying. Here are 10 simple thoughts to launch you on your way.

  1. Begin here. How deeply you would long for all the things you take for granted, if suddenly you lost them. So much of what we want we have already, so want what you have. Begin here.
  2. Begin now. You have everything you need. Everything. Plus the bonus of today, one day more than you will have if you wait until tomorrow. Begin now.
  3. Begin as you are. At your fingertips is a treasure trove of memories and dreams. Put one good memory together with one good dream and you are ready to begin. (Good memories are memories that make you feel good about yourself. Good dreams are the stuff of which tomorrow’s good memories are made.) Begin as you are.
  4. Begin by doing what you can. No more, but also no less. Don’t throw yourself against the wall. Walk around it. You can’t do the impossible, but so much is possible. So many of the things you haven’t tried you still can do. To get around the wall, you can set out in either direction—the wall has two ends. The important thing is to start walking. Begin by doing what you can.
  5. Begin with those who are closest to you. They can cheer you on only if you let them. Invite them to give you a hand—bow. And to lend you a hand—ask. And to take your hand—no one can take your hand, if you bury it in your pocket. You say they won’t cheer you on, help you out, or take your hand? Maybe not, but how will you know without asking? Begin by asking.
  6. Begin by turning the page. Today you can open a new chapter of your life. If you are trapped in your story (stuck in place, botching the same old lines), revise the script. Practice a new line or two. When reading a book, we sometimes reach the bottom of a page only to realize we have been glossing its words without registering their meaning. We haven’t been paying attention. We don’t have the faintest idea what we’ve just read. So we go back to the top of the page and try to concentrate. It happens again. Sentences dissolve into words. Words into sounds. The books of our lives are no different. Resist the temptation to wallow over some dark passage until you know exactly what went wrong. You never will. Besides, perfection is not life’s goal. Neither is unnecessary pain. If you are stuck, open a new chapter. Turn the page.
  7. Begin by cleaning up your slate. Don’t erase the past. File it by experience, to keep it handy should you need it. But don’t obsess over it. Ticking off a growing list of grievances gets you nothing from life’s store. As for the things on your “To Do” list that you’ll probably never do, place them under a statute of limitations. When they serve no longer to inspire but only to haunt you, x them off. Not only is there no reason to carry over unnecessary indictments from one day to the next, but you’ll also never reform the things you can about yourself, until you stop trying to reform the things you can’t. Begin by cleaning up your slate.
  8. Begin by looking for new questions, not old answers. Answers close doors. Questions open them. Answers lock us in place. Questions lead us on adventures. Socrates boasted himself the most ignorant man in Athens. Each new insight raised a dozen questions, extending the compass of his ignorance. Yet beyond every ridge he climbed there lay a wider vista. The more questions we have, the farther we can see.
  9. Begin with little regard for where your path may lead. Destinations are overrated. And never what we imagine. Even should we somehow manage to get where we are heading, we won’t end up there. Until life ends, no destination is final. In fact, the best destinations are those we look back upon as new beginnings. Good journeys always continue. So don’t be driven by desire (that empty place within you), never to rest until you reach your goal. Invest your joy in the journey.
  10. Begin in the middle. Our lives will end mid-story, so why not begin there? Don’t wait around for the perfect starting pistol. Or until you are ready. You may never be ready. No reason to wait in the grandstand for some official to guide you to the gate. Jump the fence. Enter the race in the middle. Here. Now. As you are. By doing what you can. With those who are closest to you. By turning the page. Cleaning up your slate. Looking for new questions, not old answers. And with little regard for where your path will lead.

Finally, before you begin, a bonus suggestion—Begin small. Dream possible dreams. Set out to climb a single hill, not every mountain. Soul work needn’t be strenuous to be high impact. You can begin transforming your life with a single phone call. Or by writing a kind letter. Or by opening your blinds to let the sun flood in. Don’t say it’s nothing. It’s everything. For you have now begun.

Source: Original. Rev. Dr. Forrest Church (1948-2009) was Minister of Public Theology at the Unitarian Church of All Souls, New York City. He died on September 24, 2009, following a long illness.

Copyright: Any reprints must acknowledge the name of the author

 

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After a day filled with movie research, trip to post office and library, doing income taxes, playing the piano, taking a long walk, and watching “Field of Dreams,” it’s finally time for Tom Lehrer. Thank you for being patient.

If you remember listening to Dr. Demento on the radio quite a few years ago, Tom Lehrer’s music might be familiar to you. In fact, the good doctor praised Lehrer as “the best musical satirist of the 20th century.” I think the first of his songs I ever heard was “Be Prepared,” a parody based on the Boy Scout motto (click on the green words to hear the song).

[music] Be Prepared

Be prepared! That’s the Boy Scout’s marching song,
Be prepared! As through life you march along.
Be prepared to hold your liquor pretty well,
Don’t write naughty words on walls if you can’t spell.

Be prepared! To hide that pack of cigarettes,
Don’t make book if you cannot cover bets.
Keep those reefers hidden where you’re sure
That they will not be found
And be careful not to smoke them
When the scoutmaster’s around
For he only will insist that it be shared.
Be prepared!

Be prepared! That’s the Boy Scouts’ solemn creed,
Be prepared! And be clean in word and deed.
Don’t solicit for your sister, that’s not nice,
Unless you get a good percentage of her price.

Be prepared! And be careful not to do
Your good deeds when there’s no one watching you.
If you’re looking for adventure of a
new and different kind,
And you come across a Girl Scout who is
similarly inclined,
Don’t be nervous, don’t be flustered, don’t be scared.
Be prepared!

I could do a lot of research but found that Wikipedia has already done that for me. So, here’s whatever you’ve ever wanted to know about Tom Lehrer. While you’re reading, I’ll concentrate on entertaining you with more of his songs, beginning with “National Brotherhood Week” and “When You Are Old and Gray.”

Then we have the cheerful, “We Will All Go Together When We Go.” I especially love how many times he changes keys.

If you’re a Southerner and proud of it, you might wish to skip this one, “I Wanna Go Back to Dixie,”

Lehrer turned to writing music for children’s television with songs for the PBS show, “The Electric Company, “which my daughters grew up watching.

Here’s “Silent E”

Finally, a little ahead of time but you can save it for the end of the year, “A Christmas Carol.”

I hope you enjoyed this short little romp through the satirical but fun world of Tom Lehrer.

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It’s coming – really. But the piano is such a draw up here. I’ve been playing Scott Joplin rags and yes, Tom Lehrer songs. And Ben’s been singing along. It’s like feeding a starving person – after ten months of no piano access, I’d play forever, or at least it seems so, except the Tower gets too cold this late in the afternoon as the cold air just funnels down from the top. So, now I’m back – well, I do need to take a walk before it gets dark. THEN . . . . . . . LOL!

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