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Showing posts from January, 2023

The State Tree of Arizona

  Do they still have state trees, birds, etc.?  Well, regardless, I know what the state plant of Arizona should be. But there probably isn't a state soil.  If there were, here is what the state soil of Arizona would be. Just yesterday I gave up on an evening walk with my little dog because she got into the cholla again.  I had the needle-nose pliers along, and she is getting braver.  But still, when she squeals, it wounds me.  If this sounds too critical of Arizona, how would you experience the sweetest pleasure of the desert unless it was set up by brutality?  The contrast is exquisite. What could be more fresh, kind, merciful, and gentle than a desert after rain?

Why Big Fish Eat Little Fish

I used to think that England was a bully for swallowing Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, and Ireland.  What justification was there?    I think the Ukraine War answers that question. If Wales had been completely independent of England, Wales might have made agreements with France (or other enemies of England) to use Wales as a springboard for attacking England.  The resulting war would have been bloody because France would have gotten entrenched on the island of Britain. Likewise Russia made a mistake in allowing Ukraine to join Russia's enemies after the 2014 coup d'├ętat.  The bloodiness increased because of that decision.  You could probably make the same argument about Russia allowing the Baltic countries, Poland, or Finland to join Russia's enemies, unless Russia permanently accepts these changes.  But it couldn't accept Ukraine allying itself with Russia's enemies.

When Teddie Bear Chollas Take Over

Altitude 2000 feet in southwestern Arizona.  I wish I understood what was going on with the Teddie Bear chollas around here.  If memory serves, they used to be fairly rare around here.  Now they are everywhere.  It is a dreadful experience to see your dog get into the teddie bear chollas. The good news is the situation is more manageable than you think.  Dogs learn to avoid the cholla segments that fall off the plant and roll around on the ground, sometimes several feet from the parent plant. Dogs tend to get these cholla segments on their feet, and then they try to get them off with their mouths.  You might not be able to remove every spine from the dog's mouth or tongue.  Believe it or not, dog saliva softens these spines. My little dog got into the teddie bears for the first time yesterday.  Believe it or not, she didn't transfer the spines to her mouth.  She was lucky, because her daddy had a pair of needle nose pliers to pull the segments (1-3 inches long) off the paws.  S

Hoping Versus Expecting

 The new Congress has been in session for a couple weeks now. It is already dropping out of the news, as it should. Every year I find myself setting lower and lower expectations for things in general. That doesn't mean giving up hope. Actually it is quite the opposite of that. Any surprises are likely to be on the positive side. We should be cheerleaders for those surprises. At the moment geopolitics and national politics seem too discouraging to think about. I would rather think about having some of the best winter camping weather ever. "Best" means cool and calm. And if that isn't perfect enough for you, we have had enough rain to hope for colorful wildflowers in late February (?). Let's hope I am tough enough to remain in the desert long enough to see those wildflowers. Usually I have left the desert by the first of March.

Joining the Elites at Davos

The mighty world-improvers are set to convene again in Davos, Switzerland.  I wasn't invited. But that won't stop me from showing the world how we can achieve Utopia.   Think of a peasant grandmother, a babushka, walking down to the Volga River in the 1800s.  She carries a basket of clothes for washing.  At the river she chops a hole in the ice, and goes to work with her bare hands in the cold water.  And she is using no electricity, no Russian gas, no coal or petroleum.  How virtuous! The saints of Davos smileth upon her. A couple days ago my washboard arrived.  I haven't had one since my trip to mainland Mexico.  I remember the corrugated, galvanized steel washboard working quite well.  My new washboard appears promising, that is, effective.  It is just the right size for a 5 gallon bucket.  It is lightweight and won't rust.  But it is plastic, therefore, made from petrochemicals! It worked better than I hoped.  Look at this, just from a couple small articles of cloth

The Capture of Soledar

The "Wagner" group of the Russian military has apparently taken over the Donetsk city of Soledar today. (Donetsk is one of the four regions recently annexed to Russia.)  Considering how slow the battle near there has proceeded over the last couple months, this all seems rapid and triumphant.    There is an irony to watching the video from the movie, Apocalypse Now, featuring Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries."  The video is a powerful combination of visual images, dramatic situation, and music.  Of course the war in the movie was Vietnam, but it is related to the Ukraine War in the sense that the Ukraine War might be seen as the American Empire's biggest debacle since Vietnam. Heretofore the war in the Donbass region has been slow and slogging, as if it were imitating the Western Front of World War One, albeit with satellites and drones.  And now something happened that seems blazingly fast by comparison. A certain amount of triumphalism is called for

Running Out of Gravity

There is something a little bit funny about the Yuma desert outside my door.  It has a desert pavement, but it is soft and thin.  (My little dog loves running on it, though.)  Nah, it is something else. Where are the arroyos?  There are only gentle swales a couple feet deep.  And yet bushes and dwarf trees line up along these swales.  Although there is nothing visually entertaining about this, it is fun to consider that this part of the Colorado River system has run out of 'gravity.'  There is only a few feet of altitude between my campsite and the Colorado River.  After that, it loses only a couple feet per mile before it oozes into the Gulf of California.  A person can camp over so much of the West and spend all of their time in the high-altitude drainages of the Colorado or the Columbia/Snake.  You could say that Yuma is the sister city of Astoria OR or even New Orleans.  Over most of the West, there is plenty of 'gravity.'  But not in Yuma.

Non-Chilly Nights

I was driving south the other day.  Not a good direction.  With all that sun blasting through the windshield, it was necessary to turn on the air conditioning -- in January for gawd's sake.  My Yuma nausea kicked on in seconds. But wait.  Since it is January, the warm hours only total up to about four.  That means 20 hours of mild coolness, instead of the more usual chilliness that one experiences in Arizona at night.  Being at an altitude of 250 feet has some advantages! In fact mild coolness at night is a rare pleasure for me.  It is worth thinking about it. 

Adapted to an Utter Wasteland

The burros are loud around here, especially an hour before sunrise.  They have built a nice network of single-track trails.  It makes sense that they need to make a trip to the Colorado River for water.  I've never seen 8 of them before in one group. (A day later we saw 12 in one group.) It isn't completely vegetation-free in the wide arroyos.  Can they pull leaves off sticker-y trees and make a living off of that?  Burros are one of the few signs of life here; there aren't even any jackrabbits in this gawd-forsaken wasteland. The Little Cute One (my cockapoo) finally saw the burros and started squealing frantically.  She has a strong prey drive.  I didn't unsnap her from the bike.  She was acting like she would chase these burros for miles!  It seems surprising that a little cutie could have the same desires as a real animal. This was a reminder of how determined Life is, in the most unlikely places.  That is the thing worth thinking about here.  Not pretty sunsets.

Birds of a Feather

 The most optimistic attitude towards camping in 2023 is that I will manage to find a place to get away from neighbors in Arizona.  It is something to work for.  It would truly be "Living the Dream." It is ironic that I am grousing about RV snowbirds when camping near Arizona's largest collection of geese snowbirds.  The geese seem to like parking next to thousands of other geese.  (I thought there was some reason why I disliked geese besides their hissing and shit.) I used to think that young Van Life nomads were an improvement over the stereotypical snowbirds of the older generation.  After all, the Van Lifer has no room for a 6 kilowatt construction site generator.  Then again, it seems like Van Lifers are slamming the door every 10 minutes.  (At least generator noise is steady.)  Why the slamming?  Their You Tube channels extol the glamor of Van Life.  But apparently they need to escape claustrophobia in that van every 10 minutes. Oh dear me!  I am starting a new year