Monday, September 24, 2018

Shy Moon

I see you hiding,
Floating between cloud islands. 
Searching for the sea,
Open dark waters where
You illuminate my garden
With your bright,
Steady beam.

You are in place,
Like a great ship
Sitting on the ocean
Of dark blue silence.
Surrounded by a mass
Of tiny, twinkling rafts.
Your starlight companions.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Celebrate Banned Books Week

The last week in September is Banned Books Week - 2018. Time to Celebrate!

Read a book that’s been banned. Here's a potential list: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, To Kill a Mockingbird, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Red Badge of Courage, The Catcher in the Rye, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Moby Dick.

The books below —along with many others—have been targeted for removal from bookshelves around the nation. Find out what all of the buzz is about! Join us as we celebrate Banned Books Week and encourage your children to read a banned book.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Blister Beetles

It's that time of year again... 

The blister beetles are doing their dance to make more blister beetles, and I suggest we all put on our old shoes and stomp until they are all flat and dead! You can ID them by their flat head, long bodies and legs, and thread-like or beaded antennae. Here are photos of species we see most often around Paulden, in Yavapai County, Arizona.
Every horse owner should know what they look like because it  just takes a few in a flake of hay to cause a horse to suffer digestive and urinary tract damage, inner hemorrhages and even death if they are unlucky enough to ingest too many. The beetles are capable of synthesizing cantharidin, one of the most poisonous compounds known to humans AND this chemical causes terrible blisters on the skin (see last photo).

The last (gross) photo is when one got to me, while I was cleaning out an old shed in NM. I never even knew I rubbed against its body until later. I had seen the beetles in the shed and did not recognize the species. The blister lasted 3-4 months and the doc felt it was at risk of infection if she lanced, so I kept it clean, bandaged, covered with a pants leg.

Beautiful bugs aren't always beneficial. This one is not one of my favorites.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Searching for Lagged Lookout Trees

Overgaard Tree 1998
In 1998, I published a story in High Country News, Lagged not Logged
Now, LISTEN to a story I helped write for KNAU Earth Notes that involved traveling to see some of the remaining trees in the Kaibab National Forest, AZ.

My husband, Paul, and I try to incorporate physical searches for lagged lookout trees when we travel the forests of Arizona and New Mexico. Included in our research is:
  •  Historical trees that died or fell, including the Overgaard tree, which succumbed in 2002 to the Rodeo-Chedisky Wildfire. 
  • Gathering GPS coordinates for the old trees using historical locations and compass data.
With our travel history we have learned:

* How lagged trees were designed and used. These important wonders of history, tell stories of firefighters that located fires in the early 1900’s by sitting like birds for hours in the tops of these trees. 

* Specific information for Arizona visitors and explorers about the lagged trees that are still accessible to backpackers, hikers, photographers and natural history enthusiasts. These amazing old trees have many stories to tell. Their historical value, condition and location is important – before they all fall to the ground. 

One of the easiest trees to access, view and photograph is the Tusayan Tree in Tusayan, Arizona, at US Forestry Dept, 176 Lincoln Log Loop, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023. (Follow US Hwy 69 to the USFS station and ask for updated to the tree. It is unmarked and near an APS Sub-station off first round-about in town).    
Hull Tree, Kaibab NF 2017

Hull Tree 1950's

998 High Country News: Lagged Not Logged, by Christine Haese

"Climbed Delodo Tree. Had a bad feeling, so dry and hot. Storm last night brought plenty of lightning, little rain. Spotted smoke to south, blowing northeast and picking up ... Caught hobbled mare and saddled up. Rode to Little Nelson Lake Tree, saw smoke again. Looks like a big fire ... May need extra folks on this fire." -  from Firefighter Journal of U.S. Forest Service fire spotter July 1935

Before the fire lookout tower, there was the "lagged" lookout tree - so named for the steel lags that provided steps to the top of the tree. The Civilian Conservation Corps created a network of these tall trees that spanned ridges and mountaintops across the national forests. Nimble fire spotters climbed to their tops on the spiked steps of tempered steel or wood ladders, then checked the horizon for smoke. Some lookout trees, such as the Hull Tank Lookout Tree on the Kaibab National Forest, still have their wooden platforms. On the Mogollon Rim of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona, a 60-foot-tall ponderosa pine known as the Overgaard Tree still stands, its rungs grown high. And on the Kaibab National Forest, several lookout trees have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While lookout trees were left standing across the United States, they were most common in the Southwest. For more information, contact the Kaibab National Forest, 928-635-8272, Black Range Ranger District of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, 928-535-4481 or the National Historic Lookout Register, 1-800-476-8733. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018


Saturday was our day off, so of course we headed to the mountains. Drove the Perkinsville Road from Drake Cement Plant to Williams, AZ. On the way back, we stopped for a picnic at an old CCC Camp F-28-A or Camp Boyce. It was hot, but Pondo shade was nice.


Demonstration at Rockin' R Ranch State Park

A packing/tack-up demonstration was held on Sept 7th in Camp Verde at the new Rockin’ R Ranch State Park. This was a large national and International (Canadian National Parks Directors) event.
Paul and daughter, Tara, took our mules and helped Back Country Horsemen of Central Arizona show how to pack animals and transport trail, construction tools, food etc. into the back country for workers.


Monday, September 3, 2018

Overland Road Historic Trail

Sit back, take in a deep breath of fresh mountain air and enjoy the ride with us by clicking on the link.

This route was laid out and built in the summer of 1863 by the Army. It connected the Beale Road with the growing community of Prescott, which experienced a short-lived gold rush. This road left the Beale Road near where Flagstaff is today, and continued west through Garland Prairie to Lockett Spring. Then, it turned southwest to cross Hell Canyon and from there south to Prescott. About 30 miles of the route is located on the Kaibab National Forest. The road was used by the military, immigrants, and freighters between 1863 and 1882, when the railroad was built across northern Arizona. Much of the Overland Road has been covered over by the present-day Forest Service road system, but portions are still visible. We rode Scooter and Bug on a section south of Williams, AZ off USFS Road.

The Forest Service has developed the Overland Road into a recreational trail. The route makes use of forest roads and trails which have been marked with rock cairns, brass cap markers, tree blazes, and 4" by 4" wood posts. A treadway has not been cleared on the trail sections, so it can be a challenge to follow. Trailheads with interpretive signs are provided. The trail sections are open only to hikers and horseback riders. Portions of the historic route that are part of the forest road system may be accessed by any means, including motor vehicles and mountain bicycles.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

From Paul McCartney to Me

The page is old now and turning a bit yellow, but then it's been hanging in my office for almost three decades. I took this out of the concert book from when I attended the Paul McCartney World Tour in Tempe, Arizona and it is still an inspiration to me.

Gardening With the Wind

When The Wind Blows
Gardening with the Wind

Here are a few tip to learn how to help your treasured trees weather the tempests and keep from snapping in the wind. It's not as difficult as you think.

     In Texas they call them Blue Northers. Around the Great Lakes, it's Lake Effect storms. Chinooks create caution from Alberta, Canada south to New Mexico. In Alaska, the Taku storm winds prevail and the California coast braces for the seasonal Santa Anas. Whatever their names, a key ingredient of these storms is wind - and lots of it!
Plant a Tree for Wind Resistance
     How you plant will benefit the plant as it grows and gains the strength for all kinds of weather. Your main objective when you plant a new tree (whether fruit bearing or ornamental) should be to encourage rapid growth and production, coupled with vigor and storm resistance. A tree may appear large and strong, but if the root system is not established properly, a windstorm can leave you with a gaping hole in your well planned landscape. Try these simple steps for planting 
  • Break up the root ball ( especially if they are growing in a spiral) and tickle the roots in the bottom of the pot. Better yet, purchase only plants that are well rooted in their containers, but not so root bound that the roots are spreading out of the bottom of their container. 
  • My grandpa used to teach, “Dig a $10 hole for a $5 tree”. Today’s horticulture specialists teach a little differently, but the basic theory is sound. Spread the roots outward in the hole. A good rule of thumb is - place the plant in a hole twice as wide as the root ball and deep enough to be able to add organic matter and mulch to the hole in addition to the soil. 
  • Finish planting so the final grade or level of the soil is the same as the container the plant was in.
Water Trees to Withstand Winds
     Many types of large trees, like some of those seen on golf courses and lawns are really not suitable for shallow, large volume watering systems provided by sprinklers. Sprinkling does not allow trees to anchor their roots deeply to provide strength against strong winds. Less frequent watering provided slow and deep is best. The way you water your tree in the early stages will determine how it reacts and responds to wind during a storm. Watering close to the trunk encourages the root system to grow in a small pattern, clumping inward toward the trunk. Instead, it's best to move the water source outward as the tree grows - toward the drip line and away from the trunk. If you water the roots in this manner, you will provide added strength to the tree.
     Summertime in the deserts around Phoenix, AZ brings seasonal monsoons. Predictably, the high wind storms create toppled trees. Mature cypress, California pepper, olive trees, and others fall victim to winds over 50 mph. Experts are ready for calls to repair and
remove. The wind damage estimates citywide after these storms can top out in the millions. Toppled trees, watered with shallow sprinkling systems, collapse on their sides and display support systems with shallow roots growing close to the trunks. More evidence of the important of watering properly.
Prune Trees for Wind Resistance
     Most trees grow well with little or no pruning - they've done so for years. In fact, if you look closely at nature, some of the most attractive trees are always less than perfect. Some of the prettiest are the palms that grow sideways, pines angled along the ground or cypress twisted by coastal gales.
      If too many branches develop, competition and shading will allow some branches to grow faster than others. In turn, the small, weak branches will die and drop. Whenever possible, allow your trees to develop with minimal pruning. Prune only to correct obvious structural faults, such as poorly positioned or strongly competing limbs, weak branch attachments, or limbs that are damaged and dead. Remember, when you destroy natural formations - trees react. If a limb is removed, make sure there is a reason for it. Recreational pruners can undoubtedly cause problems that will be difficult to correct in later years. Most experts still abide with the guideline, "prune only 25% of the tree each growing season". Pruning more can cause unnecessary damage. Nature has created a unique way of allowing trees to develop their own manner of balance.
Caring For Trees With Wind Damage
     Broken limbs that occur during severe windstorms should be repaired. When the branches are large or high up on the tree, call a professional. But in home gardening, where do-it-yourself is a part of life, you can cut the limbs yourself and have them fall properly in the intended place with just a few planned practices.
Usually, you can prune trees any time of the year, except when the tree is swelling with new buds or putting on new growth or fruit. A tree in its dormant stage is generally best for consideration. In most areas the ideal month for pruning is December through February. In higher elevations, the season can extend into March or even April.
     Equipment needed for pruning is usually easy to find and inexpensive, although size of the pruning job will dictate the type of tools needed. Hand shears and pruning loppers are handy for small limbs less than one inch in diameter. Hand pruning saws are ideal for use on larger limbs. Chain saws may be needed  for bigger jobs.
     Treating wounds in trees from wind damage with petroleum based tar is not as crucial as previously thought, especially on small cuts. Some nurseries still recommend that all pruning cuts be treated with asphalt salves, Bordeaux paste (a topical fungicide) or other tree healing products. The argument exists that you are making an incision on living tissue (just like a surgeon) so the wounds are subject to infection and disease. But most extension specialists and master gardeners agree that research points in another direction. So what is the treatment of choice by modern professionals? Nothing – leave it alone. Prune to maintain and repair wind damage limb, but then allow the tree (which usually has its own built-in mending system) time to heal naturally.
How to Prune Trees Safely
     Don't forget about safety - an important consideration when working in the garden with any tools. Safety glasses, gloves, sturdy ladders, and when necessary, hard hats and ear protection may be needed. Also, if the tree is large and tall, it may be a good idea to make it a two-person job.
     Broken limbs and split trees that leave an exposed cavity used to be a tree surgeon's dream. Nowadays the reality is... trees usually heal just fine on their own, without a lot of extra expense and cosmetic packaging.
     If you have any questions or doubts, check with your local extension office for proper pruning techniques. It's a free service, with expert guidance.

Shy Moon

There. I see you hiding, Floating between cloud islands.   Searching for the sea , Open dark waters where You illumin...