A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hawk's Nest in a Sahuaro--Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

A giant hawk's nest in an equally giant sahuaro
Seems a bit prickly to me, but...home is where the heart is.


 You can see this nest for yourself not far along the the appropriately named Hawk's Nest Trail in the southern part of Phoenix Sonoran Preserve.  Park at the Desert Vista Trailhead (1900 W Desert Vista Trail).

Apparently, this nest also gets used by owls in the springtime.  I saw not one feather of either bird, but the nest was impressive!  

You can combine this trail with others (I took the Dixie Mountain Loop to the Valle Verde Trail to the Great Horned Owl Trail to the Union Peak Trail and back along the Desert Tortoise Trail for a nice loop that wasn't too long or too short).  By the way, I love your work, trail namers!

If you like geocaching, you'll find some nice caches along here. 

Happy Hiking! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Tubac Presidio

At the awesome Tubac Presidio in Tubac, Arizona, south of Tucson.

Me pushing the arrastra, a simple milling mechanism:


A replica of an outdoor kitchen, with ocotillo dividers, gourd storage containers, and a stove with comal for making tortillas:


The first printing press in Arizona.  Don't miss the cool video about the process and all the fascinating information about what an Old West editor had to do:


Strange plant in the herb garden:


Old West public transportation:


Don't skip the beautiful artwork in this room, along with the fascinating historical tales that go with the art.

If you're at all interested in history, culture, archaeology, or botany, you'll love the Tubac Presidio. Some places get caught up in the dry facts of the dates and names and who owned what when, but the Presidio does really well getting at the good stories of the people behind the history.

It's a state park, and costs $5 per person, but it's well worth it.  And if you're in the mood for this type of thing, be prepared to spend at least a full couple of hours.  We spent half the day.  Check it out here:  http://www.tubacpp.com/

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Moon Rise in the Desert


I caught this beautiful super moon at the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve yesterday.  A beautiful night and a great way to start off 2018!

And here's what led up to it:



Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

This book has a lot of fascinating information about the complex lives, habits, and survival strategies of trees. The author makes very good arguments that trees learn and feel, that they communicate with and help each other—attributes that make them seem a lot more like animals than I'd ever suspected.

It's very detailed (for a layperson), and sometimes repetitive, which makes the pacing quite slow—much like the pacing of trees, I suppose. That's not to say it's dull. Just take it in slowly. The structure of the book makes this easy, presenting the information in short essay-like chapters that can be read alone.

It's very heavy on the type of trees that grow in the author's forest--so it's a little narrow--but he's an expert THERE, and doesn't pretend to be otherwise.


A very enriching book.



Sunday, December 24, 2017


I made traditional Czech Christmas dinner today (Czechs do Christmas on Dec 24). 

Okay...so it wasn't totally traditional, since I didn't keep a carp in my bathtub for a couple of days and then fry it up myself. But we did have fish and Czech-style potato salad. My family thought the potato salad (with peas and carrots) would be weird, but they all really liked it.  

The most traditional soup as an appetizer on Christmas is fish soup, but quite a few of my friends do mushroom soup instead.  Maybe the people in the region where I lived are particularly good mushroom hunters.  Anyway, I made mushroom soup with mushrooms I picked and dried myself in the Czech Republic.

Then we rang a bell and turned to the Christmas tree to see what Ježíšek (baby Jesus) had brought us.

It all reminded me of a lovely Christmas I spent with a dear friend in the Czech Republic.  

Thursday, December 21, 2017

My short story, "Foolish Promises," on Timeless Tales


My short story--a Rumpelstiltskin retelling with a twist--is available on Timeless Tales.  If you want to read it free, go here:  https://www.timelesstalesmagazine.com/rumpelstiltskin

They also did audio versions of the stories, and I thought the reader did a really good job with mine.  The voices are awesome.  If you want to listen to the story, you can get access to the current issue for $5 through the Timeless Tales website. 

Enjoy the story!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tubac Presidio Schoolhouse

The classic one-room schoolhouse at Tubac Presidio:


Here are some punishments for bad little boys and girls in 1848.  Notice how fighting and quarreling earn you 5 lashes.  The heinous offense of boys and girls playing together earns 4.  But the worst thing...the crime that gets you 10 lashes...is...gasp...playing cards.   Oh, the horror.


A stove like my dad remembers (he also remembers the chairs above):


The Tubac Presidio is an awesome place with all sorts of interesting history and juicy stories.  See my next couple of posts. 

Tubac is south of Tucson, just a few miles north of the border to Mexico.  The Presidio is a State Park, and the modest entrance fee is well worth it.  http://www.tubacpp.com/