Saturday, April 28, 2007

gratutious blogging

We haven't had much news to share. Chris went to Scotland. It's almost official moving day. Skinny kitty moved her babies. One of us is considering shaving his/her head. The bites of tiny red ants hurt. Really hurt. Jon Stewart is amazingly intelligent and quite diplomatic and Bill Moyers appears to have a journalist-crush on him. We're looking at permaculture volunteer-study options in Colorado and Oregon. A pint-size liquid nitrogen bottle costs $500. Randall L. Tobias, the deputy secretary of state responsible for U.S. foreign aid (including limiting funds to organizations who don't follow the administration's "abstinence only" preachings)- resigned amid the growing White House-prostitution scandal. It costs $1,200 to ship a 60 pound box from Tucson to Mozambique via UPS. And, I accidentally bought a chicken tamale at the farmer's market today.

By our standards, any of these could be blog-worthy stories. But this was going to be a road-trip travel-blog. Please enjoy this random selection of photos as we reconsider our mission here at owlhouse blog.

Sid finds refreshment, far from the reach of Diana's claws.

Brad's living room fashion show, inspired by a pre-move closet-cleaning and recent viewing of Zoolander.

Ukiah in David's Thai hat, worn on our inaugural trip to Sam's Club where people stared as we confirmed, first-hand, the evils of globalization.

Aslin bought 14 raffle tickets (to help fund a mormon baby adoption), won four times, and was one of the last to leave the dance floor.

Another fine specimen from David's international house of hats. And me, serving as a model for all those that believe salad should be finger food.

Well that was fast. Consideration complete. Turns out the blog can be related to any aspect of the lives of owlhouse residents or alumni. Peanut and Buddy confirmed the terms and conditions according to our bylaws. Stay-tuned for stories that may or may not involve travel.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

did I mention the bellydancing?

No? Well the story just isn't the same with out the visuals and the photos from the evening didn't turn out so well.

In other half-way news, I just caught part of the democrat's debate and the Alaskan in me sprung to life. Mike Gravel, I didn't even know he was in the running. (Ok, I didn't even know much of anything about him.) I'll be looking into his brand of crazy.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


has happened

the world.
on the edge,


---- Robert Creely

In honor of Earth Day and National Poetry Month.

Also considered for today's post, Some Trees, Preparing for Occupation and The Sunlight on the Garden.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

proper tourists

I have yet to hear anyone say anything positive about Tombstone, so let me be the first. Keeping in mind that I love history and campy drama and can usually tell the difference, I found a friendly town, colorful history, plenty to do without big money and a miniature horse. There are three, possibly four companies that produce gunfight shows, some comedies, some "historical" reenactments. Much to Aslin's disappointment, we didn't catch the Clanton Clan v. Wyatt Earp/"Doc" Holliday showdown or the OK Corral incident.

We did duck into the Bird Cage Theatre and the courthouse studying up on Ed Schieffelin, the wandering miner who first came to Arizona with the US Calvary. He gave up scouting with troops from Ft. Hauchua, striking out on his own. Schieffelin was warned that in this Chiricahua Apache's land, all he'd find was his "tombstone". From 1877-1886, $19 million of silver ore was mined from the hills of the aptly named town.

In the early 1880's, before the mine floods of 1886, Tombstone was known for lawlessness, liquor, wealth, vaudeville and serious theater. "China Mary" headed a well established Chinatown and Thanksgiving 1887 at the Maison Doree Restaurant included Pate Financiere and Buffalo Tongue. The Boothill Cemetery (and Jewish Memorial)- 1878-1884, gives a clear impression of boom, hardship and bust that was
Tombstone. Rodriguez, Kee, Rosenthal are buried among the unknown, infamous,"Two Cowboys- drowned," and those "shot four times," "lynched," "stabbed," and "found in abandon mine."

Our day continued another hour down Hwy 80 to Bisbee, an incredible town rich with copper, art, architecture, and narrow one way streets. I wish it was all Buddha and Sailor Moon folk art, but Bisbee has a painful labor history and I'm sure is in need of ongoing environmental clean-up. We plan to spend a few days in the area in early May, so look forward to more public art photos. I saw Chairman Mao, larger-than-life, on a utility box. Really.

(Notice anything special about this adventure? That's right, we made it there and back with no mechanical mishaps! Knock wood.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

apolitical lizards

This is not a post about the Dept of Justice, Iraq and funding the war,
Don Imus, our next president or Paul Wolfowitz and the World Bank saga. I generally have no shortage of words for these topics, but we all know they've been well covered by online journalists and in blogs of every sort.

On the other hand, there seems to be a shortage of lizard blogs. Maybe because they are so difficult to capture on film. I hear them rustling under the iris or whitethorn acacia and from the corner of my eye, I catch them running from brittlebush cover to the mesquites, where they blend with the bark. Tohono Chul Park is another story. Earless and horned lizards stared us down from the middle of the path, retreating only at the sound of the camera's zoom lens. An iguana gave a nod from under the agave. Magnificent as the barrio, Moroccan and zen gardens were, my appreciation was hampered by the fact that I read more political than lizard blogs. Peace to the friends and families of the Virginia Tech students. Curses to a president who addresses the campus with no call for gun control or improving our mental health care systems.

Also under represented in blogworld- sycamore trees. This beauty offered comfort beyond shade.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

maybe they know each other

I've been wearing Ukiah's shoes- Keen sandals. One, because I seem to have lost my flip-flops (somewhere in California?) and two because he finds shoes completely unnecessary. I've also been wearing the same pair of pants at least 4 days a week since December. Aside from the fading and the button I had to replace, and considering I bought them at Value Village, they've held up pretty well. I pushed them a step too far at Mt. Lemmon. A jagged boulder too far, really, and they split a couple inches at the right hip. My sewing kit is an Altoids box, no maroon thread. Grey stitches it is. And that would have been fine, gotten me through another four months if needed. Except that in helping some friends move, we had to make a stop at the Goodwill today.

We unloaded a desk, chairs, Halloween decorations, a tripod and asked for a receipt.

Nothing, nothing, nothing. And by nothing I mean nothing practical that will fit in the Rubbermaid box Aslin and I share as our dresser. A light, layered turquoise and black skirt has me considering sending a package home, briefly. The racks show every sign of resistance to segregation- refusing to be organized by size, color, style. But this particular store is unscented- none of the bug-bomb odor that so often oppresses thrift store air. I skim the aisles for greens and browns. The occasional orange catches my eye.

Ahead of me at the register, a 5-foot tall Hispanic woman rotates one of the thick gold chains on her neck. She pulls bags of plastic toys from her cart and tucks a short stray hair behind her ear. Gold and beaded bracelets slide half way to her elbow.

"Those are nice earrings," the cashier comments, brushing her own bleached bangs to the side.

The Goodwill shopper takes out her left earring, a dazzling rectangle stud. Cubic zirconia? She hands it across the counter, nods and waits for the accepting hand.

"Yes, very nice," the cashier approves, smiling one chipped tooth through painted thin lips, she offers to return the earring.

"For you. Muy bonita, si?" The Grandmother removes the second stud.

"Really?" No pause. "Gracias!" A Caucasian, very mid-west, three-syllabled 'gra-see-ass'. Ms. Nebraska leans into the counter, a single arm hug and kiss on the cheek.

"Si. Nuevo, for you. Is no problem," The woman admires as the employee guides the pair into the first of her three ear holes.

Ms. Nebraska rings the final bag of toys while Grandma writes a check.

"Can I see your ID?" She records the birthdate of her benefactor and together they double bag a collection of Happy Meal prizes.

I left with pair of cords (a different shade of maroon), olive green shorts and the mystery of apparent strangers sharing earrings. $6.98.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Never underestimate the power of a cookie

A call to action from Greenpeace.

"Last year alone, well over 1000 whales died for profit....In May of this year, the International Whaling Commission will meet on U.S. soil, to discuss the fate of the whales...What better way to sweeten up the Bush Administration than a weekend of Bake Sales to Save the Whales?"

That's right. A nationwide bakesale is scheduled for the weekend of April 28-29. From cookie cutters to a list of open kitchens, Greenpeace has organized all the tools you'll need to get involved. So, make your own or buy cookies here!

Thanks to worsted witch for bringing this to our attention.


Thursday, April 12, 2007


Your cute animal fix of the day...

It seems as though Skinny Kitty, the resident stray, has been sticking around for a good reason. Her babies were discovered tucked away in the bottom drawer of a weathered dresser on the neighbor's back porch. The kittens, eyes still closed, seem healthy and comfortable, well tended by their "wild" teenage mother. Looking for a new pet?
Peta's words of wisdom.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sky Islands

She's back (making very few disconcerting noises) and today, she climbed 9,000 feet without breaking a sweat. Go Buttercup!

The Catalina Highway, officially known as General Hitchcock Highway, has been compared to a trip from Mexico to Canada. From the saguaro-loving lowlands of the Tucson basin, to the mixed-conifer forest at the peak of Mt. Lemmon, the road is just under 30 miles long.

Aslin had to give up her Mad Libs leadership, directing her full attention out the window in an attempt to ward off the queasy-stomach syndrome brought on by 10 miles of switchbacks.

At 5,500 feet, we stopped at Middle Bear Canyon for a quick romp through the pines. That's right, pine cone dropping evergreens unlike we've seen or smelled since we left Camp Ocean Pines. Ahhh. "I know this air," Aslin inhales and spots a young oak.

Further up, the picnic tables at Loma Linda overlook a mountain side recovering from a massive fire. In less than an hour, we felt the temperature drop 20 degrees. The jackets and sweaters we usually keep in the van have vanished in the Tucson heat, and Ukiah sat eating pita and hummus, shivering.

We heard there was pie at the top. Pie and fondue. Genuine "Swiss Fondue" with apples, broccoli or bread. But it's the pie we heard about. Not so much that it was extraordinary, just that it was there. Sure enough, at the end of the road, just past ski valley , the Mt. Lemmon Cafe serves up $6.95/slice pie. A'la mode, $8.95. The paper menus were greasy, the seating in and outdoor- sticky, the pies in disposable tins wrapped with foil. Did my shallow pockets and rotten first impression mean keep us from experiencing the greatest pie in the world? It doesn't really look like it, but we'll let you know.

Rock scrambling Green Mountain on the way back down, we passed the "Do not sled" signs and Aslin hoped for a bear sighting. Someone had a party up where the Rockies meet the Sierra Madre Mountains. Between the broken glass, my loss of footing and the deceptive "easy" looking peeks and crevices, I wished I'd found the pocket 1st aid kit before we left the house. What goes up, must come down. Though not always along the same path.

The sky island visit was a nostalgic review of our life on the road, familiar at every stop. And as Ukiah was quick to point out, "so relaxing compared to our last hike."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

strawberry scone recipe

The Easter Bunny (seen here in eastern WA- August '06) works in mysterious ways. Ukiah and Aslin woke to baskets hidden in their adopted home. Thanks Easter Chris!

And speaking of mysteries- These poppies resurected themselves from a plain ol' seed pack.

Cooking up a new Easter tradition-

Step 1- Dye eggs. Preferably NOT TJ's organic white eggs, thoughtlessly individually stamped for freshness, interfering with the artistic quality of each hand decorated egg.

Step 2- Hide eggs, only in approved areas. Begin at 8am before Tucson sun reaches it's jellybean melting high. Monitor your area, offering clues if necessary and taking notes to better your hiding strategy in future years.

Step 3- Find eggs. Depending on your preference, concentrate on plastic candy and prize filled eggs OR go for the real thing. (Alternately, you could visually hunt eggs, leaving them in place for younger children or curious lizards.) Weave in and out of greenery and shadows, making the perfect photo opp near impossible. Instead, pose akwardly as friends continue down the path.

Step 4- Enjoy a second cup of coffee, peel eggs for brunch. Tell story of how you've come to spend over a month in Tucson with a family you met via Craigslist.

Step 5- Have only two scones left to share by 10am, the official start of the pot-luck. Seems as though the early birds were hungry.

Strawberry Scones (adapted from a half dozen recipes including Vegetarian Times and Orangette)

1 1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoons salt

4 Tablespoons cold butter/margerine

3/4 cup chopped fresh berries

3/4 cup yogurt- plain or vanilla
2 Tablespoons raw or brown sugar

1/4 cup milk (dairy, soy, rice)
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Extra flour for kneeding, tossing berries

- Preheat oven to 400
- Sift dry ingredients together
- Cut butter into flour mixture
- Mix yogurt and sugar
- Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing as little as possible
- Toss berries in a Tablespoon of flour, turn into dough
- Knead 1/2 dough on a floured surface, folding and turning no more than a half dozen times
- Form ball, flatten to 1/2 inch thick, cut into 6 or 8 pieces
- Combine milk and syrup, spoon over cut scones
- Bake on a oiled (or insulated) sheet for 12 minutes or until golden
- Cool on a rack
- Enjoy with coffee, tea or a mimosa!

NOTE- For lemon-ginger scones- replace berries and sugar with 1/3 cup candied ginger chopped fine. Add 1+ Tablespoon fresh grated lemon rind to yogurt mixture.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Buttercup Update

Faulty fuel pump. Again. That's right, the $300 pump that should have cost $200- FAILED after about 400 miles. Mechanics ensure that this is, indeed, the problem- they've check everything else as they don't want to have to go through this again.
Meanwhile, my crush on Samba continues.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

unhappy campers

The window of Ventana Canyon is an oval opening 15-feet high and 25 feet across- a hollow at the top of a Santa Catalina Mountain. A 6.4 mile climb to a 7,000 foot elevation would have carried us above the saguaro into the land of of ponderosa pines. Our best intentions had us out the door at 7 am, reality clocked us arriving at the trail head at 11. Where the trail hugs the cliff recess, we rested in the shade, a cool 80 degrees or so. Two-and-a-half miles in, we gave up hopes of reaching the Maiden Pools, knowing we should come back bright and early, another day.

So, the hike was shorter, hotter and included more complaints than would have been ideal. Still, the canyon was gorgeous. Lizard, bird, snake, one large mystery mammal, and a possible road runner sighting added to the excitement of a steep grade. FYI- Arizona has more rattle snakes than any other state. Ragged chocolate mesquites interlaced with the polished palo verde were were spectacular before the near cloudless sky. Occitillo are beginning to bloom, orange flowers at the height of the the poles.

In the shade with ice water and sandwiches waiting, Buttercup was a post-hike refuge. Until she lost power on Speedway just before rush hour. WHAT?!?! We changed the filter, replaced the pump... it's not the gas tank, doesn't seem to be the oxygen sensor or any electrical relay. If I had a sense of humor about this, I'd think she's conspiring to keep us in Tucson. Maybe she likes the scenery.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Basket balls should not have quills.

We planned to play some basketball this morning, but by 11:00 it was too hot. "The worst kind of weather," Ukiah called it "warm, muggy, just- eehh." By 4, the shade from the recycling bins spread a few feet down the curb- just enough of a bench for us to rotate from- commenting on the oppressive sun, taking shots, playing PIG, rushing for a rebound before the ball connected with the landscape.

Spring has srprung and that means new growth on the cacti. Young spines not fully rooted to their greenery, pierce the rubber of a stray ball. Baby thorns go unnoticed until the ball, back in play, meets a hand just so. And someone makes a tweezer run.

Arizona outdoor bball lesson- don't miss the backboard.

To the best of our knowledge, the penguins of Saturday night's birthday celebration avoid quill injury by not playing ball. They did sympathize as they've experienced (first hand) the discomfort of toothpick impalement.